Is the housing slowdown bad for Zillow?
I get asked this question a lot, so I figured I’d answer it here once and for all.
The short answer: no, I don’t think so.
The long answer: like most things, it is good in some ways and bad in other ways.
In times of flat or declining housing prices, looking up the value of your house or a friend’s house is undoubtedly less fun. So I’ll concede: in slower times (which are upon us), we lose some voyeuristic traffic.
On the other hand, in times when houses no longer sell themselves, we clearly benefit from sellers and agents looking for more ways to market their listings and themselves. We also benefit from buyers searching out more tools to get an edge in real estate – and that’s what Zillow is all about. In a buyers market, the more you know about the house and the area, the more you can potentially negotiate. Whether you’re checking out recently sold homes in the area, are interested in the sale history of a home, or have a question to ask the owner or agent– knowledge is power!
Since this is Zillow after all, a data crazy company, let me cite some stats to make my point. In August 2007, we had 4.4 million unique visitors come to the site – 17% more people than came to the site in August 2006. Zillow continues to grow our traffic significantly while the overall online real estate category’s viewership is down about 2% year over year according to Hitwise. So while personally I’d love to see my house’s Zestimate start increasing again, I think that Zillow can prosper as a great tool for buyers, sellers, agents and brokers in a down market.