Zillow adds community pages

Real estate site Zillow now has places for locals to chat about their schools.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman

Zillow (previous coverage), a site for home buyers, sellers, and lookie-loos, is getting a broader focus today: on neighborhoods, not just houses. As such, it could become a resource for people neither selling or buying, but rather just living.

An active Zillow neighborhood page. Zillow

Neighborhoods now have their own pages, which include demographic info (I'm surrounded by lawyers who ride motorcycles, apparently) listings of homes for sale, and community features. There are discussion boards and neighbor directories, which could, theoretically, make Zillow a useful resource for people who live there. I'd find it useful, for example, if there was an active discussion board about issues facing my little slice of the world: parking, schools, restaurants, and so on.

Right now, though, Yelp is my resource for local commerce. It even has reviews of the auto shop on our main drag, for example. But a discussion on noncommercial topics would also be good, and Zillow could provide that.

That's the dream, anyway. But while the new neighborhood features are very useful for buyers investigating places they might want to move to (and sellers trying convince them), the community for residents won't work unless each neighborhood gets a critical mass of residents online who start to view Zillow as more than a real estate site. I don't know how Zillow gets there from here without losing its focus on home sales.

See also: Backfence; FatDoor (preview); and StreetAdvisor (review).