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How Zillow Makes Money: A Business Model Breakdown

A breakdown of Zillow's products, business model, and key business metrics.

Updated quarterly. Last updated: July 7, 2021.


Zillow Group Overview

Ticker ZG
Industry Real Estate Technology
CEO Rich Barton
Year Founded 2006
IPO Date July 11, 2011
TTM Revenue $3.4 billion
TTM EBITDA $279.5 million
1-Year Return 84.48%

What Zillow Does

Zillow is an online real estate marketplace founded by Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink. Before starting Zillow, Barton and Frink founded a little travel company called Expedia.

Zillow 1.0 helped people search and discover homes for sale. It also created the much-hated, at least by realtors, Zestimate. The Zestimate made home values visible to everyone.

Now, they're kicking it up a notch with Zillow 2.0.

Zillow 2.0 helps people buy, rent, sell and finance a home all on one platform. Its mission is to make real estate transactions as simple as ordering a package from Amazon.

Zillow Group's brand portfolio:

  • Zillow-Its original marketplace for buying or renting homes and apartments.
  • Zillow Offers–Started in 2018. Its iBuyer program helps home sellers get a quick, all-cash offer for their homes.
  • Zillow Rentals–Helps renters find an apartment for rent. Zillow also helps landlords post listings, screen applicants, draft leases, and collect payments.
  • Zillow Home Loans–Helps borrowers find a mortgage or refinance their home.
  • Zillow Closing Services-Its title and escrow service.
  • Trulia–An early Zillow competitor. Zillow bought Trulia for $3.5 billion in 2014.
  • StreetEasy–Zillow, but for the New York and New Jersey markets.
  • Hotpads–Helps you find an apartment or home for rent.
  • Zillow Premier Agent Program–Helps realtors connect with potential buyers.

Zillow Group's software products:

  • Mortech–Helps price loans for mortgage professionals.
  • Dotloop-Document software for realtors. It lets agents edit, sign, and share documents without using print, fax, or email.
  • Bridge Interactive-Software for multiple listing services (MLS) and brokerage companies.

How Zillow Makes Money—Its Business Model

Zillow has three revenue-generating segments:

  • Homes
  • Internet, Media, & Technology (IMT)
  • Mortgages

Homes

  • Includes Zillow Offers (iBuying) and Zillow Closing Services.
  • The Homes segment generates revenue primarily through Zillow Offers.

Internet, Media, & Technology (IMT)

  • Includes Premier Agent, rentals and new construction marketplaces, dotloop, display & advertising, and business software solutions.
  • Premier Agent generates revenue by selling ads, marketing services, and technology services to realtors, brokers, and other real estate professionals.

Mortgages

  • Includes Zillow Home Loans, advertising sold to mortgage lenders, and its software product—Mortech.
  • Mortgage revenue is generated through mortgage originations and selling loans on the open market.
  • They also make money by selling leads to mortgage professionals.

Zillow's revenue breakdown

Zillow Offers: Unit economics

Zillow Offers: Profitability per home


Zillow's Key Business Metrics

Zillow tracks four metrics to measure the health of its business.

  • Visits
  • Unique Users
  • Number of homes sold
  • Loan origination volume (this is a newer metric. There wasn't enough data for a proper chart)

Visits and unique users

  • Visits: Counted when a user does something—like view a listing—on Zillow, Trulia, and StreatEasy's mobile apps and websites.
  • Unique users: Counted when a user accesses one of Zillow's mobile apps using a mobile device and accesses its website using a desktop browser for the first time during a calendar month.  

Number of homes sold through Zillow Offers


Zillow's Competitors