Lawsuit: Zillow Ruined My Ability to Get a Decent Offer

April 29, 2019

A real estate developer who owns a $150 million spec home in Bel Air, Calif., has filed a lawsuit against Zillow, claiming the portal “tainted” his property by falsely recording that it sold for tens of millions of dollars less than the asking price. However, the home was not sold and was still on the market for the $150 million price tag. The developer, Bruce Makowsky, is suing Zillow for $60 million, citing “permanent harm” to the public perception of the property.

In February, a person with a Chinese IP address was able to hack into Zillow’s security measures and change the sales price of the mansion’s listing, the Los Angeles Times reports. Zillow only allows the owner of a listing to change information about the home. On Feb. 4, Makowsky’s home was shown on Zillow as having sold for $110 million. The lawsuit claims Zillow, over the course of a week, also posted false sales prices for the home of $90.54 million and $94.3 million.

Makowsky says the false sales prices have destroyed the property’s public perception as an “elite listing” worth more than $100 million. He accuses Zillow of lacking a security process to prevent trolls or criminals from claiming a property and posting false information.

The spec home, dubbed the “Billionaire,” is a four-story mansion spanning 38,000 square feet with 12 bedrooms, 21 bathrooms, and three kitchens. It boasts a 40-seat movie theater, a $30 million fleet of exotic cars, two wine cellars, a four-lane bowling alley, and a candy room. The home was originally listed for $250 million two years ago, and as of January, it has been listed for $150 million, the Times reports.

Zillow has declined to comment publicly on the pending litigation, but the company has stressed to reporters that it works to display current and accurate data on its website, which is largely pooled from public records. On April 19, Zillow asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, citing a section of the Communications Decency Act that protects web operators from being held responsible for information published by its users. A hearing is scheduled for June 24.