Zillow.com Web site
Zillow.com via Reuters
Zillow.com has teamed with Microsoft to offer house hunters a bird’s eye, low-altitude view of residential neighborhoods.
updated 4/13/2006 9:17:00 AM ET 2006-04-13T13:17:00

Zillow.com already lets you learn how much your dream home might sell for. Now, you’ll also be able to see what the house and its surroundings look like.

Zillow, which provides free, anonymous home value estimates, has struck a deal with Microsoft Corp. to offer detailed pictures of homes using the software company’s “bird’s-eye” mapping technology.

(MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

The technology, which is the same offering found on Microsoft’s Live Local mapping site, provides photographic search results that are, in some areas, close-up enough to make out individual cars or the state of a neighbor’s hedge.

Such pictures could be useful for would-be home buyers eager to know if their prospective abode abuts, say, a lovely park, or a wrecking yard.

Spencer Rascoff, Zillow’s chief financial officer, said there would be no option for homeowners to remove their house from the site.

He acknowledged that Microsoft’s technology, which is still in test form, does not always show the correct house — an issue that may be less problematic for someone searching out driving directions that for a person who is considering buying a property.

But Rascoff said users should be able to clear up any confusion by looking at both the photographic search results and Zillow’s own maps, which show parcels of land and estimated values for surrounding properties.

Seattle-based Zillow, which launched in test form in February, uses county records and other data to compile its “Zestimates” on about 47 million homes nationwide.

Redmond-based Microsoft’s technology covers only some metropolitan areas right now, but the company is aiming to expand its coverage by the end of the year.

Rascoff said the multiyear licensing deal isn’t exclusive, meaning competitors can strike similar deals with Microsoft. He declined to provide other details on the deal.

At least one competing product, realestateABC.com, also offers photographic search results; it uses online mapping technology from Microsoft’s rival, Google Inc.

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