Judge John Michael Vazquez of the District of New Jersey has come to a conclusion when it comes to Zillow’s Zestimates service. EJ MGT LLC, a New Jersey limited liability company, claimed that the real estate giant “illegally contracts with certain real estate brokers to alter the location of those brokers’ property listings’ estimated prices, called ‘Zestimates,’ on Zillow’s web pages while not offering this option to other brokers, agents, and property owners.” EJ MGT LLC stating to be in the latter part of that list.
Specifically, EJ MGT LLC has accused the Zestimate tool of selling their property short when in 2017, when the liability company listed a property on Zillow’s platform, the Zestimate tool appraised it for what the plaintiff claimed was below what EJ MGT had anticipated, causing two potential buyers to turn down the purchase. The plaintiff stated that after EJ MGT filed the first complaint, Zillow moved the placement of that specific property’s Zestimate so it no longer appeared at the top of the property page under the listing price and instead showed a ‘View Zestimate’ link where the Zestimate should have been. EJ MGT had requested this link be removed which was denied by Zillow.
Overall, EJ MGT accused Zillow of suppressing the likelihood it would be able to sell the property for a fair price.
The court considered this and reported that the “Plaintiff does not allege that it lost any potential buyers to a comparable property sold by one of the Co-Conspirator Brokers in which the Zestimates were in a less prominent position. Plaintiff only indicates that two potential buyers informed Plaintiff that when they viewed the Property in 2017, they ‘were turned off from considering a potential purchase of the property based on the discrepancy between the listing price and the Zestimate.’” Further stating that this issue is more harmful to consumers, not sellers like EJ MGT.
This isn’t the first time in recent years that another company has come for Zillow’s throat with antitrust claims. In January of this year, Vermont-based For-Sale-By-Owner Platform, Picket Fence, filed a complaint against the real estate giant for unbalancing the competition between smaller real estate listing sites in the region.