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A foreclosure sign hangs on a fence in front of a foreclosed home on April 6, 2011 in Richmond, California.
Real estate site Zillow already boasts an enviable database of homes for sale and a catalog of property prices nationwide, but the site’s latest development is an archive of foreclosed homes that aren’t yet on the market.
The 1.8 million homes, either bank-owned or in the process of foreclosure, were already publicly available, but will be free and much more easily accessible on Zillow. Users can flag homes as potential buys for the future, and realtors and sellers will be able to predict which will sell best. In these tumultuous times for the housing market, foreclosed homes have become a much-utilized commodity – in some cities, tour companies take potential buyers to foreclosed homes in droves.
How might free, easy access to a database of homes in the foreclosure process change the market? Should foreclosed but not-yet-for-sale properties be listed publicly? Do neighbors, employers and the general public have the right to know about your pending foreclosure? Do the benefits outweigh the privacy concerns?
Kerry Vandell, dean’s professor of finance and director of the Center for Real Estate at the Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine
Joseph Turow, Professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communications and expert in online privacy