Zillow Offers $1 Million to Improve Zestimate

May 25, 2017

One week after facing a class-action lawsuit over its home-price tool, Zillow is looking to improve it with a contest. The real estate website is offering a $1 million award to the “person or team” who can improve its Zestimate, an online tool meant to help people estimate the value of their property. Zillow officials say the contest has been in the works for more than a year and was not motivated by the lawsuit.

Last week, Zillow faced a class-action complaint filed by suburban Chicago home builders that argued home buyers were viewing the Zestimate as a formal appraisal.

Zillow officials say the Zestimate's error rate is 5 percent on the more than 110 million U.S. homes it provides valuations upon. But officials acknowledge that the tool could be improved upon.

Zillow has set a deadline of Oct. 16, 2017 for contest submissions. The top 100 entries will be invited to participate in a final round, which will begin Feb. 1, 2018. The contest winner will be revealed by Jan. 15, 2019.

“The next round of innovation will come from imaginative solutions involving everything from deep learning to hyperlocal data sets — the type of work perfect for crowdsourcing within a competitive environment,” says Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief analytics officer.

Source: “Zillow Hears Your ‘Zestimate’ Complaints: It’s Offering a $1 Million Prize for a Better Algorithm,” MarketWatch (May 24, 2017)