Once upon a time, Zillow was a media company selling digital real estate ads for agents. Also, once upon a time, Zillow was considered to be outside and merely looking in to the real estate industry.
Not any more, according to Brad Inman, one of the industry’s primary influencers. Just as Google is to search, Amazon is to e-commerce, Facebook is to social, Brad Inman said, “Zillow is to real estate.”
After listening to co-founder Richard Barton’s “upfront” and “no holds barred” presentation at the recent Inman Connect conference, Brad Inman said, “Bottom line, Zillow will do whatever is necessary to build out its new consumer experience (iBuying via ZillowOffers) and, in turn, do whatever is best for Zillow shareholders.” Inman believes, “Zillow is about changing the real estate experience without being hemmed in by anything, including the old rules of real estate.”
These are big words coming from one of real estate’s biggest influencers and opinion makers. Inman comes to his words by the facts that Zillow is in the business of buying and selling houses, is building up its infrastructure to serve its buying and selling model and is developing/scaling its property management network of contractors, movers and handymen to, again, serve its business model. Additionally, Zillow, now a declared brokerage, is morphing its Premier Agent program into a general commission split of 35% on every “successful” (consummated transaction) referral from its gigantic consumer database and distribution.
Inman believes that Zillow will some become the largest buyer and seller of homes in most of America’s markets. Inman believes that agents “only as needed” will represent Zillow. Inman believes that Zillow will, for the very first time, generate huge commission income. And Inman believes that Zillow will dominate the mortgage lending and title industry, thus generating huge fees from those ancillary services.
Already the keeper of more data on consumer behavior, transaction information, home listings, political clout and consumer mind’s share than any other real estate business entity and/or trade association, Zillow, according to Inman, has the “full support of Wall Street, its money and its market cap to make the most of anything possible” in the industry.
Inman lastly cautioned others in the real estate industry by saying, “Do not expect any politically correct promises (from Barton).”