In a bold move—and likely a surprise to the 89,000-plus real estate professionals presently paying for its services—Zillow Group announced today its intent to launch a new consumer real estate search portal, RealEstate.com. The portal is “designed for millennial homebuyers,” according to a release about the launch, and will source listings directly from brokerages, franchises and MLSs. The URL, which currently directs to Trulia and was procured by Zillow during its acquisition of Trulia, will go live in May.
“We’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about millennials, how they approach real estate and the experience they expect during the search process,” said Jeremy Wacksman, CMO at Zillow Group, in the release. “We know from our own research they are driving the housing market, as half of homebuyers in the U.S. are under 36 years old. This represents a huge opportunity for agents to connect with this growing audience of buyers. RealEstate.com is designed with the millennial shopper in mind and will provide another way for them to connect with an agent.”
According to Zillow Group, real estate agents “will receive the same listing treatment they currently have on Zillow and Trulia,” and stated the company will release more details about the consumer experience at launch.
“This is a move that many industry observers have believed would happen at some point,” says John Featherston, president and CEO of RISMedia. “There is no denying Zillow’s powerful position in the marketplace; however, according to recent SEC filings, Zillow showed a decrease in agent advertisers to 89,147 as of September 30, 2016—down from 96,965 as of September 30, 2015. This decrease was despite increasing their sales and marketing expenses over the same period from $82.0 million to $92.8 million. At the same time, their mortgage business is growing significantly, with revenues increased by $22.0 million, or 68 percent, for the nine months ended September 30, 2016, compared to the nine months ended September 30, 2015.
“The launch of Zillow’s new real estate brand should prove to be extremely interesting to our entire industry,” Featherston adds. “When you take into account Zillow’s market cap of more than $6.1 billion is larger than that of Realogy and RE/MAX International’s combined, there’s little doubt Zillow’s entry will not only turn the heads of real estate professionals throughout the industry, but, more importantly, draw the attention of millions of home sellers and buyers. This could be the story of the year.”
According to the release, the millennial generation (ages 18-34) is playing an increasingly large role in the housing market. In addition to making up the largest group of home buyers today (42 percent), millennials rely heavily on technology early in the buying and selling process, according to the 2016 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report. Agents also continue to play an important role with this engaged group of buyers, 70 percent report using an agent in their home search and they are more likely to find their real estate agent online (29 percent) and to evaluate agents using online reviews (61 percent).
RealEstate.com will join Zillow Group’s other brands, including Zillow, Trulia, StreetEasy, HotPads and NakedApartments.
Stay tuned to RISMedia for more developments.