Where real estate agents fit into Zillow’s grand vision

Rich Barton - HW+

Zillow is the elephant in the room, and Mynor Herrera doesn’t know whether to feed it, ignore it, or find a mouse.

Herrera at first felt he needed to work with Zillow, and he sent a check to the company each month in exchange for leads. But the head of Mynor & Associates, a Keller Williams affiliate in Bethesda, Maryland, grew frustrated.

“We used to attribute 25% of our business to Zillow,” Herrera said. “But they were constantly changing their fee structure, so we couldn’t count on it. Also, we figured they would wake up one day, and say, ‘Hey, we’re a brokerage.’”

Zillow, for years, made money selling leads to real estate agents, a practice that agents like Herrera already felt ambivalent toward.  

But Zillow has changed.

In 2020, the three-year-old Zillow Offers program, where Zillow itself buys a home and then resells it, made up the majority of both company revenue and expenses. That’s despite the company pausing the iBuying program for four months amid the pandemic.

Last fall, Zillow opened brokerages in Atlanta, Phoenix, and Tucson, which focus on finding new buyers for Zillow Offers-purchased homes.

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