Homeowners Say Real Estate Website Lists False Foreclosures

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A stranger’s knock lead to a troubling discovery for one North Texan.

“My house has never been in trouble,” Demetria Rogers told CBS 11 News.

She built her dream home from scratch in 2001.

Thus, when a stranger came knocking at her door one afternoon, it rattled her. The encounter was caught on her doorbell camera.

“I was wondering, I was looking online,” the stranger said to her. “I saw this house online, is it foreclosed?” he asked Rogers.

“And, then he said ‘well, your house is on Zillow. It’s foreclosed on,’ ” Rogers recalls. The stranger wanted to know if she wanted to sell it.

She immediately rushed to check the real estate website Zillow herself. There it was. Her home was listed as a foreclosure. Zillow cited public records showing her home was bank-owned for 10 years. Rogers called the real estate agent Zillow had listed for her home. She couldn’t help. Then she called the mortgage company who said that her home was never and is not referred for foreclosure.

The I-Team dug through county property records, tax records and court records to confirm, there was no foreclosure.

“I have been nervous ever since. I am very concerned!” Demetria said.

Turns out Rogers is not the only one. The I-Team found dozens of similar listings all over North Texas. The homes are listed as foreclosed online, but county records show otherwise.

Ray Daughhetee owns one of them. He has been trying to get Zillow to correct the foreclosure listing on his home since he discovered it about two years ago.

“So far I’ve reported it twice, and then today,” he said.

He is concerned about what it was doing to his home’s value.

“If I see the home is foreclosed upon, it throws up a lot of red flags.”

Real estate expert Nicole Espinosa says people think the home is damaged and not maintained properly. Also, she says homes listed as foreclosed on Zillow far outnumber the real foreclosures.

For example, Zillow shows 1,045 foreclosed homes in Tarrant county. The Multiple Listing Service or MLS, used by realtors, lists at just 553. That includes homes in pre-foreclosure.

In Dallas county, Zillow shows 1,491 foreclosed homes, compared to MLS data of 591. Espinosa says the perception it leaves, is the biggest problem.

“Why is your house listed as a foreclosure, or why was it once, in a foreclosure,” Espinosa says it gives a negative perception to the buyers.

Zillow told CBS11: “Zillow has information on more than 110 million homes and we strive for accuracy in all listings. The primary source of our information comes from public records. Because public records sometimes have inaccurate information, we’ve made it easy for homeowners to claim their home and provide us accurate information. Homeowners can flag their home details on Zillow with one-click, and if the information is no longer accurate, we will remove it immediately.”

Several realtors said, Zillow benefits from having as many listings show up as possible. That draws buyers and connects them to realtors.

The company wouldn’t say how often it checks and corrects records on its own, without leaving it up to homeowners. About a week after the I-Team started investigating, the foreclosure label on Demetria Roger’s house disappeared. But, she believes the damage has been done.

“The guy who came to buy my house was asking the neighbors about it. that’s embarrassing.”

If you want an accurate list of foreclosed properties, you can ask a realtor. Most counties in North Texas keep updated lists on line.

Click the following links to them by county:

 

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