Mary Ellen Podmolik

Amid lawsuits, Zillow launches data competition to improve 'Zestimates'

Amid lawsuits, Zillow launches data competition to improve 'Zestimates'

Real estate site Zillow is launching a $1 million competition among data scientists to improve its "Zestimate" home valuations, but said the crowdsourcing initiative is unrelated to recent lawsuits filed in Chicago against the company.

The Seattle-based company on Wednesday said it was looking to boost the accuracy of its automated home valuations on 110 million homes across the country. Zillow says its Zestimates already have grown more precise and now about half the time are within 5 percent of the eventual sale price, compared with 14 percent when it launched in 2006.

Major upgrades to the tool were made in 2008 and 2011 and another will be rolled out by next...

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