One of the more amusing things about the real estate industry in the 21st century is the extent to which Zillow triggers some folks to heights of lunacy otherwise seen only in the more extreme social justice warrior types. If Zillow bought Coca-Cola tomorrow, some people would immediately switch to Pepsi.
The latest fracas involving Zillow’s Instant Offer test is a good example. Inman News reported on it yesterday:
The new Zillow product allows prospective homesellers to receive all-cash offers from a hand-selected group of 15 large private investors along with a side-by-side comparative market analysis (CMA) from a local Zillow Premier Agent.
The way it works seems pretty straightforward. Some homeowner surfing Zillow fills out a form. That form is sent to well-heeled (institutional) investors. It is also sent to some agents who are asked to provide a valuation (CMA) and try to get the homeowner to list the home with them instead of selling to an investor. The homeowner can choose to (a) sell to an investor, (b) sell to an investor, but pay an agent to help, or (c) list with an agent.
Doesn’t strike me as being all that different from all of those “What’s Your Home Worth?” type of things we have seen on the real estate web since… well… the start of the real estate web. I distinctly remember Homegain doing that back in the day, and doesn’t anybody remember HouseValues.com?
And yet… the response from some (though not all) people has been… ah… striking. Y’all need to chill out. This isn’t anything more than Zillow trying to fend off real threats looming on the horizon in the form of Opendoor and its copycats. Yet, some of the same people who were pooh-poohing Opendoor as a We Buy Ugly Houses with fancier office furniture are losing their ever-loving minds when Zillow does something similar but with a benefit for agents.
If that’s not a symptom of Zillow Fever, I don’t know what is. Let’s explore this like rational people.
[Note: I have a business relationship with Zillow, but as I have mentioned many times before, they don’t even know that I’m writing this. But, you make up your own mind, y’hear?]