Zillow is on its way to the Canadian market. At Renzo Real Estate, we always figured it was not "if", but "when" this would happen. Zillow is a consumer-minded, database company that takes searching for listings to a whole new level. In the real estate industry, Zillow is most well known for their controversial "Zestimates", an algorithm that values homes with the click of a button. Of course, there is a standard of error associated with Zestimates, but they do give a potential seller a general understanding of their value.
The Canadian real estate market was quick to respond to Zillow's announcement because of the potential that Zillow will have access to MLS sold data. The MLS sold data has previously been protected by the real estate boards and The Canadian Real Estate Associate, to avoid misuse of the data. With Zillow having access to the sold data, their computer algorithms can derive a general value for one's property. The non-supporters of Zillow in the industry mostly come back to the thought that Zillow is starting to nudge out the real estate agent.
Zillow's intended profit model is similar to that in the US. They plan to sell internet leads back to real estate agents. This has helped lead to an overall revenue of almost $850 Million in 2016.
Personally, I do not have a grievance with Zillow, and I welcome their entrance into the Canadian real estate market. I believe the value of a real estate agent goes well beyond having access to sold data. If one's value proposition to the consumer is solely the harboured data, then one is likely in the wrong industry. Furthermore, having more options for buyers (beyond realtor.ca) helps empower our buyers and having more educated sellers helps as we list their properties for sale.
As an industry, we must work with technology, not against it. The technology will come whether we like it or not, so let's continue to up our game as real estate agents.
- Michael Montgomery, Broker - Renzo Real Estate