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Shaker Heights concerned about Zillow property tax listing errors

Posted at 10:16 PM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-07 23:11:34-04

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Shaker Heights Mayor David Weiss said he's concerned about listing mistakes on the popular real estate database Zillow and hopes all property tax listing errors will be corrected quickly.

They are listing errors that have left Shaker Heights homeowners like Mark Wallach upset and frustrated.

Wallach, who has been trying to sell his home since March, told News 5 he was stunned to discover Zillow had his annual property tax costs listed at $35,000, nearly double the actual cost.

Wallach said he had to threaten Zillow with a lawsuit to make the correction and believes the listing error is costing him potential buyers, time and money.

“I was just leafing through the Zillow listing on our house trying to figure out why we weren’t getting any traffic our house,” Wallach said.

“I sent them an email and I said I’m going to file a class action suit if you don’t fix this and the next day mysteriously it was fixed.”

“But it not just my home, oh thousands, thousands, it may be every house listed in Cuyahoga County. Everybody I talked to in different cities around the county have had the same problem."

Howard Hanna real estate agent Jim LeSueur said 17 of his listings had Zillow property tax errors that on average were 80% too high.

LeSueur said he was able to get Zillow to correct his listings, but agrees the errors could cost seller significant money.

“I checked all of our properties priced between $500,000 and $200,000 and they were all wrong,” LeSueur said.

“When a house languishes on the market, you’ve got the monthly mortgage payment, you’ve got the tax and you’ve got the maintenance.”

“You want to have all the information in-line and accurate for every property that you put on the market.”

News 5 contacted Zillow about this situation and it it issued the following statement in response to our story:

“Zillow currently obtains property tax records for Cuyahoga County from a third-party vendor. After a recent review of Cuyahoga County’s data, it appears the vendor provided us with an estimated property tax calculation, not the current year’s tax data. We’ve informed the vendor of the error and they are currently working to provide us with the most up-to-date tax data for Cuyahoga County. Zillow strives for accuracy, which is why homeowners can claim their homes on Zillow and update their home facts. If any information is inaccurate, homeowners can contact us and we will work to update it.”

Still, some home sellers like Wallach believe Zillow has an obligation to take more aggressive responsibility in actively searching and correcting listing errors on its own.

“Zillow doesn’t seem to be changing it except when people contact them and tell them you need to change this. They’ve know about this for more than a month now, I don’t know why they haven’t fixed it,” Wallach said.

“Change these things quickly, you have a responsibility to the public to give them the most accurate information you can, and you’re not doing that.”