So now Zillow’s doing lay-off’s too, as they’ve let go 25% of their workforce this week.
In its current permutation, I have no quarrel with Zillow and actually enjoy their product, read their blog, and use their valuations. With good comparative sales information, I find their value ranges pretty accurate, and I like the aerial photos and supporting statistics about each home.
Because of Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink’s success of bringing travel to the Internet at Expedia.com, they probably assumed that they could do the same thing with real estate. They’ve always claimed they had no intention of disintermediating agents, but Barton did say he thought the role of agents may change and that he thought agents were overpaid.
Barton was quoted as saying that inevitably real estate services and fees will change as online services take hold.
“I’m not implying that we have some new commission model figured out, but it feels like . . . Realtor services are going to be unbundled a bit,” he told Inman Real Estate News.
Since then, however, they’ve bent over backwards making nice with real estate agents. In the beginning, it was first thought that home buyers and sellers were their clients. But now it’s apparent that real estate agents are.
Real estate agents and other real estate support services such as mortgage professionals, these are Zillow’s true clients, as they’re the only ones actually, literally buying what Zillow has to offer. While millions of buyers and sellers might come to the website, they’re not spending any money there. But the real estate agents are, so it’s imperative that Zillow makes the real estate agents and real estate related businesses happy. Without the real estate ads, their revenue source would dry up. They’ve taken on the role of agent’s de facto business partners, to augment the information that agents are able to provide to their customers, and to be a portal that brings eyeballs and clicks to those who buy the ads.
What I appreciate the most about Zillow is that they haven’t found success using our product (listings), but creating their own with their unique value algorithms, aerial, street and hybrid maps, statistics and market reports. Where Trulia uses our listings to attract eyeballs, Zillow is actually creating unique content to lure homeowners on to their site. Zillow does have listings, but they still have valuable content without them.