Zillow Now Tells the World About Your Foreclosure

Privacy advocates raise an eyebrow at new feature

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 26, 2012 1:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – If you were hoping your neighbors wouldn't find out about your financial troubles, we've got some bad news. Zillow.com, a popular site allowing people to see how much homes are worth, is now allowing users to search for homes that are headed for foreclosure—even if they're not yet for sale, the LA Times reports. Visitors will be able to see whether the homeowner has defaulted, and by how much, and what the house might sell for, among other details.

While this information has always been technically public, it was only available via cumbersome public record searches. Zillow says it's offering a service by making it more transparent. "This helps buyers become smarter about their local market," the site's marketing officer says, and it could help underwater borrowers, too, by exposing them to potential buyers. But privacy advocates are concerned. "Sometimes things are protected not by the law, but by the act of having to go look it up," says one professor.

A bank owned sign is seen on a home that is listed as a foreclosure on a HUD website, in Hawthorne, Calif., July 21, 2010.
A "bank owned" sign is seen on a home that is listed as a foreclosure on a HUD website, in Hawthorne, Calif., July 21, 2010.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
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