A previously tight-lipped Internet startup, created by CEO Rich Barton, (former CEO of Expedia.com) and President Lloyd Frank released their new consumer online real estate service Zillow.com
Selling your home or Researching properties? This amazingly simple free application layers housing data ontop of maps/satallite imagery (ala google maps). Click on the home and not only is the user is presented with common mls information such as square footage, bedrooms, yr built, etc., but is also offered tax data, estimated value, previous selling prices, and graphs displaying trend data over the years for that specific home. Taking on the English Language itself, they've trademark the term Zestimate which will soon be common-speak to mean "Rough Internet home valuation", much like "googling" means search.
Read: MLS data for all properties + the data your Realtor provides
Even though only in beta, Zillow takes up 2 terabytes of information and contains housing data on 60 million homes, which is about half of those in US. In addition to "push" data such as lot size, Zillow will also include insider input, such as if the property has a fresh coat of paint. When asked why Rich started the company, he replied that he recently was buying a house and being a spreadsheet geek, thought there was a need and lack of easily accessible information.
Founded in early 2005 by Internet veterans from Expedia, Amazon.com and Microsoft Corp., along with real estate insiders, Zillow is set take on one of the most powerful industry groups in the country; Realtors and the Muliple Listing Service.
Rich Burton says, "Creating a consumer online business in one of the largest industries, real estate, will be a delicate challenge requiring a mix of marketing, technology, and real estate smarts." Funding doesnt hurt either. As one of the most heavily funded Internet companies in recent memory, Zillow has raked in 32 million so far. Putting the green to work Zillow has been on a hiring spree, sucking up programmers and interface designers, 40 new positions since late last year, currently around 75.
For now, Zillow is playing nice with the industry saying, "Real estate agents will be our partners", using advertisements from lenders and brokers to fuel the free service. In a NPR interview Rich said, Expedia was a travel agent, Zillow is not a real estate agent. Currently they don't show homes for sales, but with over 60 billion up for grabs from real estate comissions, and a warehouse full of programmers, Zillow's future is bright.
Currently there are some kinks and speed issues, common in beta sites, some places work, some places don't and others have only partial information - but it only takes one look to appreciate how powerful the tool can be. Amazon and Expedia were not merely websites, but transformed their industries and the ways consumers think and interact with them, Zillow has the know-how and the gumption to do the same for the way we think of buying and selling homes.
You'll find company information as these folks soon hit mainstream news across the country, but here is a more intimate look at a to soon-to-be household name Zillow, via the CFO & VP of Marking Spencer Rascoff's Blog.