Reflecting on Zillow’s Influence Over the Past Three Years

Zillow’s three year anniversary presents an opportunity to reflect on the past three years. A lot has changed in the real estate tech space, but the real estate business remains a belly-to-belly business, with client relationships solidified with handshakes and time spent together in the car, in houses, at the coffee shop.
Zillow in Charlottesville, Virginia

Zillow’s presence in the Charlottesville real estate market is negligible; in spite of this I’ve always considered them another tool in the good Realtor’s toolbox. For instance, check out the zestimate on a property I am currently marketing in Crozet: none.

Zillow provides Realtors an opportunity to defend their value by giving consumers more and better questions to ask.

Their presence has pushed virtually every facet of the real estate industry. Forward, in my opinion.

But – from a technological perspective, I doubt that real estate search would be where it is today with Zillow’s influence. It can be a great tool.

Realtors have to defend their practices, their value, their quality – in at least small part because we have to answer the question – why should I trust you rather than Zillow? I for one, have welcomed the opportunity to answer this. (more in a later post)

Brian Boero at 1000Watt Blog offers this kick ass post on Zillow’s three year anniversary – (bolding mine/read the whole thing)

The real estate industry owes Zillow a debt of gratitude, whatever their fate may be. The backlash against the Zestimate was stoked by those with a competitive agenda and clung to by agents who, perhaps justifiably, had an utter lack of confidence in their own capacity to deliver value. The Zestimate was and remains a very rough measure, but worse, I would argue, was the slapdash pricing guidance offered by the hundreds of thousands of shamefully under-qualified agents running wild during the boom years. True professionals never fretted about Zillow, consumers got more information to aid decisions, and brokers were forced to rethink their own approach to merchandising their valuation services. Everyone that matters comes out ahead.

And … This from the Wall Street Journal’s “Developments” blog:(bolding mine)

When it comes to real estate, more Americans are moving from denial to acceptance. Zillow.com, a Web site that provides housing-market information, says it found in a recent survey that 57% of participants believe their homes lost value during the past year. That was up from just 38% in a similar survey during last year’s second quarter.

A website. Not THE website.

One question I (try to) always ask my new buyer clients is “where are you searching for homes right now?” Frequently they will say that they are using my home search site, the local Realtor Association’s public MLS site, occasionally Realtor.com, and sometimes they will say Zillow or Trulia, and I heard Homes.com from a customer last week, too. In consumers’ minds there is not yet one place to search for all homes that are currently for sale. And for now, that’s ok.

Zillow makes me a better Realtor because they force me to defend my value to consumers. Defining and defending value and competency in a vacuum, without a foil, is challenging.

I still think that Zillow (nor any software) cannot adapt as I wrote a couple of years ago, and that no software, no algorithm can determine value as well as intelligent, intuitive, perceptive humans. There are far to many unzillowables to account for.


Related stories from RealCentralVA

Fragmented search with Zillow and Trulia – 12/2007

Zillow might be righter(er) – 1/2008

What if – Zillow is right? – 8/2006

Zillow steps it up – 12/2006

Full Zillow coverage over the years.

Greg’s comment rings true today:

General impressions: More agents seem to hate Realtor.com than fear Zillow.com.

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