Homeowners Say Real Estate Website Lists False Foreclosures

Homeowners Say Real Estate Website Lists False Foreclosures


STRANGERS KNOCK ON THE DOOR LED TO A TROUBLING DISCOVERY FOR A FORT WORTH HOMEOWNER. HER HOUSE WAS LISTED AT FORCLOSED EVEN THOUGH SHE PAID THE MORTGAGE EVERY MONTH. SHE KNEW THAT WASN’T RIGHT AND THEN SHE CALLED THE CBS11 EYE TEAM. POPULAR REAL ESTATE SITES HAVE THE WRONG INFORMATION. Reporter: ONE OF THE FIRST PLACES YOU GO IS ONLINE. IF YOU WERE TO GO AND LOOK AT TOP REAL ESTATE SITES LIKE ZILLOW AND TRULLIA YOU WOULD SEE THOUSANDS OF HOMES IN NORTH TEXAS THAT ARE LABELED AS FORCLOSED BUT THAT’S NEWS THAT THEIR OWNERS. Reporter: 16 YEARS AGO DEMETRIA ROGERS FOUND A SPOT IN SOUTH FORT WORTH SHE COULD CALL HOME. YOU WERE ONE OF THE FIRST IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. I WAS THE PROUDEST ONE. Reporter: FOR 16 YEARS SHE’S BEEN PAYING THE MORTGAGE AND PAYING THE TAXES WHICH IS WHY A VISIT FROM A MAN THIS SPRING CAUGHT HER SO OFF GUARD. HEY WHO ARE YOU LOOKING FOR. I WAS THIS HOUSE ONLINE. NO, NOT THIS ONE. HE SAID YOUR HOUSE IS ON ZILLOW IT’S FORCLOSED ON. OH, NO. Reporter: ROGERS QUICKLY CHECKED ZILLOW FOR HERSELF, AND THERE IT WAS. HER HOME FORCLOSED. SHE CALLED A REAL ESTATE AGENT ZILLOW LISTED FOR HER HOME AND THEY COULDN’T HELP. THEN SHE CALLED HER MORTGAGE COMPANY. YOU’RE NOT IN FORECLOSURE, YOU’RE NOT CLOSE TO IT. Reporter: THEY GOT COURT RECORDS TO CONFIRM THAT THERE WAS NO FORECLOSURE NOTICE. I WAS VERY CONCERNED. Reporter: WE FOUND DEMETRIA WAS NOT ALONE. WE FOUND ANOTHER HOME THAT ZILLOW SAYS HAS BEEN FORCLOSED FOR 19 YEARS BUT COUNTY RECORDS SHOW IT’S NOT. WE LOOKED AGAIN THIS TIME A HALF MILE TO THE SOUTH WE FOUND ANOTHER ONE AND THE OWNER THERE TOLD US THAT HOUSE IS PAID OFF. AS WE KEPT LOOKING WE FOUND DOZENS OF SIMILAR LISTINGS ALL OVER NORTH TEXAS. SO FAR REPORTED TWICE AND TODAY WILL BE THE THIRD TIME. Reporter: DOROTHY HAS BEEN TRYING TO GET ZILLOW TO CORRECT THE LISTING ON HIS HOME SINCE HE THOUGHT ABOUT SELLING IT FOUR YEARS AGO. AT THE TIME I DIDN’T HAVE A REASON TO WORRY ABOUT IT. I WAS IN MY HOME, MAKING PAYMENTS. THE MORTGAGE COMPANY NEVER TALKED TO ME ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE. Reporter: BUT AS TIME HAS PASSED HE’S STARTED TO WONDER WHAT IT’S GOING TO HIS HOME’S VALUE. IT SAYS A HOME HAS BEEN FORCLOSED UPON IT THROWS UP A LOT OF RED FLAGS. YOU THINK THAT IT’S NOT BEEN TAKEN CARE OF, THERE’S A LOT OF DAMAGE TO THE HOME. THAT IT’S NOT VALUED AS THE OTHER HOMES WOULD BE. THERE IS A NEGATIVE BECAUSE YOUR HOME IS BEING MARKETED AS A FORECLOSURE OR PREFORECLOSURE. Reporter: ESPINOSA SPECIALIZES ON FORECLOSURES. DOES THAT SEEM RIGHT TO YOU? NO NOT AT ALL. NOT EVEN CLOSE. Reporter: ZILLOW SHOWS 1,045 FORCLOSED HOMES. THE NUMBER THAT TARRANT COUNT TIP HAS 563. ZILLOW SHOWS DALLAS WITH 1,000. WHY WAS YOUR HOME LISTED AS A FORECLOSURE WHAT’S GOING ON YOUR HOUSE? ABSOLUTELY NEGATIVE PERCEPTION. Reporter: ZILLOW IN A REPORT SAID, WE STRIVE FOR ACCURACY IN ALL LISTINGS. THE COMPANY WOULD NOT SAY HOW OFTEN IT CHECKS AND CORRECTS RECORDS ON ITS OWN. WITHOUT LEAVING IT UP TO HOMEOWNERS. ABOUT A WEEK AFTER WE STARTED INVESTIGATING THE FORECLOSURE LABEL ON DEMETRIA ROGERS HOUSE DISAPPEARED. BUT SHE’S AFRAID THE DAMAGE HAS BEEN DONE. AND THE GUY THAT CAME TO BUY THE HOUSE, HE WAS ASKING MY NEIGHBORS ABOUT THE HOUSE. SO THAT’S EMBARRASSING. WE TALKED TO SEVERAL REALTORS FOR THIS STORY THAT TELL US IF ZILLOW BENEFITS TO HAVE AS MANY HOUSES AS THEY CAN. THAT CONNECTS THEM TO REALTORS. YOU WANT AN ACCURATE LIST OF FORCLOSED PROPERTIES YOU CAN USE ONE OF THOSE REALTORS OR MOST COUNTIES KEEP AN UPDATED LIST ONLINE. WE PROVIDED A FEW OF THOSE

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