Zillow CEO: Here's why we are killing it


After spending the last two years in the doghouse, online real estate player Zillow Group has bounced back, up more than 11 percent this year.

More people now type the word “Zillow” into Google than the words “real estate,” Zillow’s CEO Spencer Rascoff told Jim Cramer on Wednesday.

It’s instructive to look and compare Zillow with Redfin. I always think Redfin blew its chances, by trying too hard to be a tech company instead of a RE company. Zillow is a horizontal player, and Redfin is vertical. I now expect Zillow to completely dominate the RE industry in the next 10 years.

Zillow is becoming the Google of real estate.

Zillow may have the “name” but if it wants to be the dominant real estate site it needs to bolster its analytics area (get more tech?). The fact is, you can’t be #1 if your numbers (home price valuations) are widely considered to be way off. The best of both worlds would be to merge Zillow and Redfin together.

I’ve never seen Zillow sell a house. I’ve now seen multiple Redfin listings.

For online research, it’s all about what you’re looking for. I’ll look at Redfin for active listings, and Zillow for inactive ones. But if Zillow starts selling houses, they’re going to be under the same rules as REdfin, and then … I guess I’ll look at realtor.com for old data?

I wouldn’t call Zillow a real estate company. I doubt if they belong to any MLS.

Every “Zillow” agent I’ve come in contact with has been less than stellar. IIRC they charge agents to be listed. Their “lenders” are worse. Too many bait and switch on the lending side.

Maybe they have improved. I compare listings every now and again and often see out of date listings and sold listings on Zillow. I use Zillow to see the before photos on flipped homes.

Do you use Trulia?

Why do you think the Zillow numbers are so inaccurate?

Zillow has the potential to be the unified, national MLS. We the real estate aficionados know Zillow got bad data, but it seems that’s where most “normal” people go to look for houses. Redfin’s market share is still incredibly small, even in tech heavy areas like here and Seattle. If Redfin is where most people started their house search, it’d be hard for them NOT to have more customers. Which makes me think not that many people search on Redfin to begin with.

MLS got their data from real estate agents. So if in the future Zillow can convince more agents to input listing data into Zillow directly, its data quality will improve. Zillow already has some “coming soon” feature, trying to get a head start against local MLS’es. If that’s where most customers go, that’s where agents will go too. Some sort of network effect.

Zillow best bet is to get money through advertising and referrals. Whether they realize that or not. But if they want to become a RE agency, they’d better make a strong go of it.

I use trulia for the stats which seem better to me than redfin’s. I use zillow when I want to find data on a particular house that wasn’t recently sold since you can go through a neighborhood and click on houses. For example, if you wanted to say “How many houses on this street have the square footage I’m looking for?” I’d use Zillow because RF doesn’t allow you as easy access to that.

Zillow bought Trulia so I wonder if they will merge info.

Zillow isn’t a RE company. They are tech. They don’t list homes. They don’t represent buyers. They are really just an ads sales platform for real estate. That’s how they make their money. If Google doesn’t buy them, they’ll eventually displace them. I imagine Google could stand up a better home price estimating tool within a few months. They already have all the maps data.

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There are whispered rumors that google is planning to sell off their maps. Whispered rumors are rarely accurate but one never really knows for sure.

Another trick Zillow plays to entice agents to list their houses on Zillow first, yes, even before MLS:

Zillow lets you be the only agent on the house’s page.

For a price of course. So if a potential buyer saw the house on Zillow, and wants to know more, there are no other agents’ ads on that page. Only the LA. Unless the buyer already has an agent lined up, she is more likely than not just contact the LA.

That’s double-dipping-licious.

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Spinning of maps would be pretty dumb. They invested a ton in building them out. The maps integration is a selling point of their cloud offerings. Also, there are a lot of way they could monetize maps better. They could probably put yelp out of business within 6 months.

double-dipping-vicious is available here but not in all states. I guess the LA will have another agent be the buyers agent on record if they can’t double-dipping-licious

Agreed. Plus they need an excuse to run their self-driving cars around all over the place :slight_smile:

What is the cost of maintaining Maps?

Easily 1-2B a year I think. But it’s totally worth it. It’s a huge competition moat.

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I doubt that Google will sell off all mapping. They might sell off sections. When google maps are mentioned I think of getting directions. That is one portion of mapping.

Other mapping would be Google earth and their GIS products. Their GIS has a few limitations and algorithm issues that they have no plans to fix. They have not been able to gain market share with utilities, government agencies, schools, airlines and others. Airlines are particularly picky about maps being correct. Black holes in maps are frowned upon. Utilities are the same way. They really want to know exactly where their underground lines are.

Map is a vital component in the upcoming auto-driving war. A group of German car makers banded up to buy Nokia’s map last year. Uber bought some of Microsoft’s map.


Now where will the Japanese car makers get their maps? Korean?

Very interesting space to watch.

Zillow is a ripoff mafia typeorganization. …Just like a protection racket…They use info realtors pay for and then harass them to buy exclusive advertising. …Which is a total lie…they sell dozens of exclusive ads in each market…The FBI should arrest these ass holes…

Sounds like a great biz then. Need to look into their stocks…

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