Zillow Partners With Google. Game over? For who?

Feb 14, 2013  |  Michael Wurzer

Zillow has made a ton of news lately, and seen it’s stock price soar to a $1.4 billion valuation as a result. The string of announcements was capped off yesterday with news of a partnership with Google to power Google Now, a search tool for mobile devices.

The Google partnership and a new partnership with HGTV prompted Zillow’s CEO, Spencer Rascoff, to tweet yesterday:

The same announcement prompted Robert Drummer from iMapp to tweet:

Jim Duncan, a well-known real estate blogger in Virginia, said the announcement huge:

He then follows that up with a great question in a blog post today:

We’re not to the point where zestimates replace market analyses – there are so many unzillowables that can’t be quantified by an algorithm – view, smells, neighbors, proximity to work, stuff, groceries, etc but the question that marginal real estate agents need to be asking themselves (that great ones have been asking themselves for years) is this:

Why should my client trust me more than Google/Zillow?

(my answer to this question coming next week)

Perhaps a better question is whether an agent or broker will ever be found or heard with all the noise and popularity of Zillow. Or, as Spencer Rascoff says, as a practical matter, will every broker and agent need to be on Zillow or, as Jim says, will Zillow simply become the de facto standard simply by ubiquity? I think these are very real possibilities and, as an MLS software vendor, I wonder if this is yet another version of the story we’ve all seen before about the Death of the MLS, which started this blog nearly six years ago?

I didn’t think so back then but the success of Zillow in building a juggernaut that is changing our industry is undeniable. The only question is how far and successful will they be, and will MLSs, brokers, and agents find themselves in the no-win position of having to partner with Zillow to not be marginalized?

What do you think? Same story different day, or is this something new?

3 Responses to “Zillow Partners With Google. Game over? For who?”

  1. Robert Drummer says:

    After consistently warning MLSs about what could happen if they didn’t keep tighter control of their listings, I’ve given up. I’ve been one of a few voices at conferences, on blogs and on Twitter warning of the Zillow “juggernaut”. No one seems to care, so why should I?

    Yes, the game is over. Zillow is cited by the Wall Street Journal for quotes in real estate articles. The White House does chats with Zillow. Zillow partners with Google. Where is Realtor.com? Where is NAR? *crickets*

    Zillow makes almost all of their money from REALTORS® and they built their business off the backs of broker’s listings. They didn’t steal anything….it was handed to them.

    As to the question “Why should my client trust me more than Zillow/Google?” Your client will trust you more…’cause they’re your client. Of course REALTORS® possess more local knowledge and know the “unzillowables”. The bigger question is: What about your potential prospects?

    Anyone who has seen the numbers knows that Zillow is the leader in consumer eyeballs and their latest announcements only point to more growth…at the expense of everyone else hawking services on the Internet. Zillow’s Uniques (however questionable that stat may be…hint: divide by 3.8 to get a more realistic number) aren’t growing because the population is exploding. Their growth is at the expense of every REALTOR®, Broker, Franchise and MLS that handed them the gift of Advertising Units (that’s Zillow’s term for listings, if you didn’t know).

    Zillow, et al, control the consumer eyeballs. And it’s only gonna get worse. Heads can be stuck in the sand and bloggers can blog about unique selling propositions all day. If Zillow had a dollar for every negative post about the Zestimate….wait, they already do.

    At this moment, I can’t understand why anyone is surprised. What did you expect would happen?

    “Oh, hai Zillow. Please, take these listing and let me pay you to put my name next to them. Pay the MLS? Oh, of course not, that’s just silly”.

    Can a genie be put back in the bottle? Can an egg be unscrambled? It’s going to take more than a few guys saying “the sky is falling”, but anything is possible.

    Until then, congrats to Spencer and Zillow.

  2. Rick Stealey says:

    MLS listings are a disgrace. They don’t have a quality plan or even know the definition. As long as they allow blurry pictures, pictures taken with wide lenses that greatly distort the view, bathroom photos with the toilet seat up, incorrect directions, missing information (real estate taxes), addresses that are not recognized by google earth, misspellings and bad grammar, they deserve to be taken out of business. I wish google would start from the ground up and do it right. I want VIDEO, high resolution photos, street views. I want what technology is able to provide. Realtors are obsolete.

  3. I love Zillow and I hate Zillow and I use that to my benefit. I am a featured agent on Zillow and ask every client who uses me to review me. I post every listing on Zillow and post those to Craigslist. I get leads from Zillow, although few every pan out.

    On the other hand, I “hate” Zillow. But I offer a website that is better than Zillow, so when someone asks me yet again about some totally not for sale property that “popped up on Zillow”, I get to say – OMG, will you please use my website and stop using Zillow?!

    If today’s agent has not taken the past five years to get themselves with the program, that is, if today’s agent is not saturating the internet with fabulous marketing and spending the necessary money on an internet presence, it is their own fault. The trend toward needing a dominant internet presence has been prominent for at least the last five years.

    We need to understand how our clients use the internet and partner with the internet behemoths like Zillow, understand that Google LOVES it’s own stuff and saturate Google with our posts and pictures and maps – (did you know you can create your own maps and google will find them in their searches?), and filter all of this internet marketing into a personal message that our clients can hear.

    We do not need to bitch about it along the way.