Zillow goes after mortgages

From Techrunch:

Zillow, the site where you can find pricing estimates and other info about houses around the United States, aims to disrupt the online lending market with the launch of its Mortgage Marketplace.

That is an interesting monetisation play in the online real estate space. My thinking so far, which echoes that of the numerous people I have spoken to in this space, is that the big pot of cash to go after is estate agents commissions. Mortgages feels to me that it is at least as interesting, particularly here in the UK where the position of estate agents is so entrenched.

  • Nic, I’ve spoken with a couple of the leading online real estate intermediaries, and its all about charging the agent for leads. What ever way it adds up, that is the current model. The problem for the last few years was that the market was so hot, the agent could just sit back and not invest all that much in developing capability. The only thing that mattered (seriously) is that the Agent looks like they are doing the best job possible for the seller, and that was measured by how high their property appeared on google search. If your house appeared on the first page of a search, hey your agent knows what he is doing.

    In terms of selling your house, it seems to me that the the “final hook” for the agent, is that they are better at showing people around your home, and that people buy a “depersonalised home” + “a lifestyle” (I think).

    Here’s a a thought (and an off beat one at that), “if you could hire, “professional presenters”, as opposed to estate agents, would you then be able to break the grip of the old guard”? So why not a “zillow market” for professional presentation talent?

    And because now I can’t shut up, here’s another point, “how long do you think it took the new 2.0 real estate plays to build the level of eyeballs that the old 1.0 Real Estate intermediaries had”? HINT: not as long as you might think. That means the API/OPEN/Social dimensions might be more powerful in this space than people give credit, at least for audience building.

  • Nic, I’ve spoken with a couple of the leading online real estate intermediaries, and its all about charging the agent for leads. What ever way it adds up, that is the current model. The problem for the last few years was that the market was so hot, the agent could just sit back and not invest all that much in developing capability. The only thing that mattered (seriously) is that the Agent looks like they are doing the best job possible for the seller, and that was measured by how high their property appeared on google search. If your house appeared on the first page of a search, hey your agent knows what he is doing.

    In terms of selling your house, it seems to me that the the “final hook” for the agent, is that they are better at showing people around your home, and that people buy a “depersonalised home” + “a lifestyle” (I think).

    Here’s a a thought (and an off beat one at that), “if you could hire, “professional presenters”, as opposed to estate agents, would you then be able to break the grip of the old guard”? So why not a “zillow market” for professional presentation talent?

    And because now I can’t shut up, here’s another point, “how long do you think it took the new 2.0 real estate plays to build the level of eyeballs that the old 1.0 Real Estate intermediaries had”? HINT: not as long as you might think. That means the API/OPEN/Social dimensions might be more powerful in this space than people give credit, at least for audience building.