OK, here’s something I’ve never done in over a decade of blogging and content generation — I’m asking for input on a potential series of posts before I write them.
Because this is going to be a lot of work, and if there is no interest, there’s probably better ways to spend my time. Normally I wouldn’t care what people think about what I’m writing, but we’re talking probably a dozen future posts and a significant investment of time. That means less time to spend with my toes in the water and ass in the sand, my preferred way to pass time these days. If I’m going to give that up, seems prudent to inquire about the general level of interest before heading down this path.
Below is the beginning of Part 1 of the Hater’s Guide to Zillow. There’s not much here yet, that’s kind of the point, but there should be enough to glean the basic gist of the guide; at least as it exists in my head today. Let me know if you think this is something you might read, find useful, or at least entertaining. Just click “Like” or drop a quick comment. If you think it’s stupid, by all means, say so! Not asking for an in-depth analysis, not making any promises for future value, just trying to gauge general interest level before diving in.
Thanks for the input!
Preamble and Disclosures
This is Part One (of an unknown number) in a series of thoughts and prognostications about Zillow Group (ZG). More commonly known as just, “Zillow,” or even simply, “Z.” Thought by many in the real estate industry as a valued partner, contributor, even friend. Also thought by many to be the Spawn of Satan, destroyer of real estate agent careers, and quite possibly the harbinger of the end of all humanity. Seriously! Zillow killed off the dinosaurs too. #BlameZillow
In full disclosure, I worked for Zillow Group for over six years as their director of industry outreach. I retired in August 2018. While I may be biased positively toward ZG, I do have an inside perspective that very few possess — an active broker’s license, experience as an agent and broker-owner, and a Zillow Group employee who literally sat in the middle of the PR department, steps away from half of the C-suite. That perspective makes these ponderings, I hope, something of interest and use to those within the real estate industrial complex. Those consumers who for whatever reason want to see how the real estate sausage is made may also find this of interest. Then again, it’s quite likely no one will care. Whatever, I’m retired, I have lots of time, and I enjoy writing. This is what you get, make of it what you will.
For the Securities and Exchange Commission, Zillow Group attorneys, and Zillow conspiracy theorists, nothing I discuss here (or elsewhere) is confidential information. Not even close. I’m no longer privy to any sort of confidential, proprietary, or inside information within Zillow Group, and I wouldn’t repeat it if I was. I do have a few stock options, vested but not yet exercised, and I have a small holding of both Zillow and Zillow Group common stock, neither of which are remotely significant financially and have no impact on my opinions that follow.
So take this writing, and those that follow, for what they are worth — the opinions of one person. Granted, one with a little different perspective than most, and one who will do their best to remain impartial but who will freely admit is a fanboy of Zillow Group’s mission and the team executing that mission.
Part 1: The Zestimate
In the beginning, there was the Zestimate.
Literally, the Zestimate was on Zillow before listings were. “Huh? How can there be a Zestimate if there are no listings?” Simple. Zillow started as a database of homes. Not homes for sale, homes. All homes. It was a year or so into Zillow’s existence before For Sale listings would appear on the site. Today, there are over 110 million homes in Zillow’s “living database of homes” (“living,” because new information, including homeowner-generated content, is constantly being added to the site).
While the actual data doesn’t exist, I’d bet large sums of money that it was about 30 seconds after the Zestimate first appeared online when some real estate agent somewhere said, “this Zestimate thing is bullshit.” More than twelve years later some are still mumbling that, and more.
What is a Zestimate?
What the Zestimate is Not
Why Consumers Like It
Why Zillow Displays It
Why the Zestimate is not Evil
Why Hating on the Zestimate is a Waste of Energy
Zestimate Objection Handling in Three EZ Steps
Future Parts of the Hater’s Guide to Zillow
- Becoming a brokerage.
- Becoming an MLS.
- Eliminating agents.
- Stealing listings.
- Selling back leads.
- Never makes a profit.
- Only cares about profits.
- Too consumer-centric.
- Decimating broker’s value.
- But, travel agents! (Founder’s motivation).
- Oh, Canada!
- Others as deemed necessary / fun.
The Short Story
Main beef: Accuracy
Average rant: “Zestimates SUCK. They are never right! Has Zillow ever been inside the house? Homeowners are delusional about home value, and it’s Zillow’s fault. ”
Primary Zillow talking point: The Zestimate is a starting point. It’s not a Zappraisal.
Perceived Objection Difficulty: 47
Actual Objection Difficulty: 3
Consumer perspective: Like getting an idea of home value without winding up in an agent’s database. Most understand putting a “Z” in front of the word “estimate” doesn’t change the definition of the word.