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There aren’t enough advertising dollars for Zillow.com to go IPO, but adding Google Street View makes the site a little more useful

So far, in 30 months since Zillow.com launched, precisely one client has shown me a Zestimate. I mention the site all the time, just as a matter of casual conversation, but only the INTx types know what the hell I’m talking about. Last night on the the phone with Brian Brady, I equated the Realty.bots with model trains: We fool around with these model train layouts because they’re interesting and fun — and then we get up and go back to our real jobs on the railroad.

That’s not completely fair. I’ve been using Zillow more and more in my own real estate practice, as one of my pre-listing tools. Because our current MLS system sucks so bad — it’s gone on July 28th — often I will go to Zillow first.

One thing I’ve wanted and missed at the site is Google’s Street View.

Guess what we’re getting today? That link is dead for now, but I’m not under any embargo, so here’s the news:

Even though it uses Microsoft’s satellite imagery, Zillow will also be adding Google’s Street View technology for exterior elevations of homes and views of the streets and surrounding areas.

The other bit of Zillow news this week was the announcement by Zillow.com CFO Spencer Rascoff that the start-up will not be going IPO in 2008.

The problem? All of Zillow’s services are built on an advertising-based revenue model, and it is struggling to sell enough ads.
 
“There’s an online advertising recession right now, and we are not immune,” said Rascoff. He did not show any signs of departing from the company’s advertising-based business model, or its eventual plans for an IPO.

Street View doesn’t seem to be turned on yet, as I write this. The IPO spigot may be turned off for quite a while.

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  • 8 comments

    8 Comments so far

    1. Michael Fisher July 23rd, 2008 9:02 am

      Although Mr. Rascoff admits that their services are reliant on ad revenues, I think they would better serve the layman/consumer in terms of disintermediation and transparency if there were no “Address Undisclosed” uploading of copied IDX third party-off site (Pay for more info) ads not so cleverly disguised as for sale listings.

    2. Dave July 23rd, 2008 9:30 am

      As more people discover Zillow the numbers will be there to get them on advertising buy lists. I am a regular contributor to Zillow Mortgage threads and have seen some of the bigger ad spenders like Dietech and Quicken shy away after exposure of some of their mortgage marketing strategies as being very costly to the borrower. The latest “quicken..come to your own conclusions” ended with a Quicken manager stepping in at the last minute and making money saving (to the borrower)and face saving for quicken changes so that the borrower got a better than a typical Quicken mortgage. As more borrowers avail themselves of this convenient way to vette their mortgage opportunities and get a competitive deal, the audience numbers will reflect the increased traffic and advertisers will be willing to buy ads on Zillow.

    3. Chris E July 23rd, 2008 9:48 am

      Lets get a grip here people.Zillow has done more damage to the real estate industry than good.Consumers like to believe what they want and getting those Zestmates is an uphill battle making it more difficult and time consuming to educate them.Personally when they show me those zestimates,I have a tendency to turn them way.One can think this is stupid,yet has saved me much grief and from what I hear from other agents,that have wasted much time with them my loss is minimal.The most precious element in our business is time.The way one spends his time determines his/her paycheck.Period.
      Now sites like Zillow can be good in the future,but as of now (in my opinion) are liability.Most of these sites are created and run by people that have nothing to do with real estate.They had a good idea but they do not seem to have any real estate background.Now with that said the MLS,that has real estate background has been behind the ball,as it has fall to catch with the ever changing real estate practice environment.

    4. Dave Phillips July 23rd, 2008 6:07 pm

      It will be interesting to see if Zillow, Trulia and others can survive living on venture capital in a rough market. Realtor.com may fight off another bunch of contenders simply because the competition goes under.

    5. Cheryl Johnson July 23rd, 2008 6:07 pm

      Surprising to hear Zillow hasn’t got more traction in Phoenix. Zillow is very popular in these parts.

      In fact, many sellers that call us have already posted a “Make Me Move” number on Zillow, and if you don’t know what that “Make Me Move” number is when you meet up with them, shame on you.

    6. Miami Real Estate Attorney July 24th, 2008 2:55 pm

      Zillow is just data point to use.

    7. [...] people in the Facebook, Share my Mind with Google and constantly talk on miPhone while admiring the Street View out my Zillow window.  Last night I even had a tall glass of milk with my Obeo.   The Soft [...]

    8. shell smith July 30th, 2008 1:56 pm

      I agree, them adding the street view was a great idea. I do however like PropertyMaps better. Their google maps/mls mashup is easier for me to use. I hope it can help someone else out there.