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updated 9/20/2006 9:36:28 PM ET 2006-09-21T01:36:28

Zillow.com, a real estate site that publishes estimated values for some 68 million U.S. homes, is now giving homeowners the chance to add newer information about their properties to its vast database.

Since the Seattle-based startup launched in February, many homeowners have contacted the company challenging the accuracy of certain home values and suggesting that Zillow allow them to enter updates on things like remodeling projects that don't appear in public records.

"Opening up Zillow's massive database and allowing homeowners to contribute factual information and commentary should, over time, dramatically enhance the quality and relevance of Zillow to buyers, sellers, and homeowners," Rich Barton, Zillow's co-founder and chief executive, said in a statement.

Barton became the first homeowner to publish such an update. He said his house had 3.5 bathrooms, not 2.25 as public records indicate, and that he'd remodeled the basement and two bathrooms, and added a home office, laundry room and wine cellar.

With the changes, Barton estimated his own is worth $3.25 million, a value posted below Zillow's $2.84 million "Zestimate."

To get access to the database, homeowners will have to register and "claim" their home's record through an online verification process. If they decide to publish their updates, the information will be displayed alongside Zillow's existing data for that home. They can also choose to keep the updates private or share it with only certain people.

In the past, Zillow users could recalculate a home's value using a private worksheet but the company didn't have access to those updates.

Zillow ranked fourth among U.S. real estate and apartment Web sites in August, according to Nielsen/NetRatings data, behind Realtor.com, AOL Real Estate and MSN Real Estate.

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