To say that start-up Zillow has created a buzz in the real-estate industry could be one of the understatements of the year. It has already generated so much interest, in fact, that at least one blog (HouseHunting 101) has begun tracking what other blogs are saying about it.
Why so much interest? Easy. Even though other realty sites have been around for awhile, Zillow raises the bar significantly by crunching its own numbers and coming up with a potential price tag for your home--something that sellers usually pay real estate agents for. But Zillow also raises the prospect of providing related services that go well beyond home valuations, greatly easing the daunting procedures of buying and selling homes in today's complex market.
Translation: A lot of people in the real estate food chain feel threatened. Appraisers are the most obvious potential victims, but the housing ecosystem reaches far and wide: Think, for example, how much easier it is to search for a home in desire areas Zillow's satellite maps, rather than hunting through classified ads in the newspaper that have few photos and give no sense of neighborhood, property history or comparable values.
So even though Zillow may have some early problems--the most comment criticism seems to be the accuracy of its "zestimates"--it represents the kind of game changer that can revolutionize an industry.
Blog community response:
"As accuracy improves, Zillow may spell the end of appraisal fraud. A quick Zillow search of a suspect appraisal will easily shine the light on a padded value. Even with the current margin of error, underwriters can use this tool to identify other comps in the area, and see the overall estimated value of the neighborhood as a whole."
"Zillow doesn't help me track the transaction, order the inspections, schedule showings, deliver the contracts, ensure the financing is secure, inspect the title, coordinate the closing, manage client anxiety, advertise the property, create the property-specific Web sites, hold an open house, set up an estate saleÂ...or do any of the hundreds of specific tasks necessary to successfully close a real estate transaction."
--Twin Cities Real Estate Blog
"One common development idea is new search engines which are specific to particular areas of search where they can specialize and provide much deeper and current information than Google, Yahoo, or MSN are able to manage. Zillow is one such search engine invading the Real Estate industry. They've come under fire from real estate agents who are concerned that Zillow may have the same damaging effect on their business as travel sites had on travel agents."
--SEO Litaracy Consultants