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Why Zillow Is Free and How It Makes Money

On Zillow, it’s free to listing a house for sale by owner or agent and to listing a property for lease. Zillow’s on-line and cell search instruments, together with its smartphone app, let customers seek for a property and think about estimated property values without cost, too.

Zillow reported This autumn and full-year 2020 earnings, together with annual income of $3.3 billion, up 22% year-over-year.

Shares of Zillow Group (ZZG) cut up in August 2015, appearing on its promise made in July to create new courses of shares to supply entry to new revenues whereas additionally establishing a technique for additional funding.

How is Zillow Group, Inc., Zillow’s guardian firm, in a position to provide all these providers without cost and nonetheless become profitable? Let’s discover out. (Observe: Zillow is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zillow Group, which additionally owns Trulia, StreetEasy, and HotPads.)

Key Takeaways

  • Zillow makes cash by charging property administration corporations to promote their listings on the Zillow Rental Supervisor.
  • Zillow gives Premier Agent branding on their web site, which incorporates a number of itemizing service search, shopper evaluations, previous gross sales, bio, photographs, and movies.
  • Zillow earns income when actual property brokers buy promoting on Zillow’s web site that targets customers in an agent’s native market.
  • In November 2021, Zillow introduced it is going to be winding down iBuying, a service whereby the corporate flips homes listed on its website.

Advert Gross sales to Property Administration Corporations

A technique Zillow makes cash is by charging property administration corporations to promote their listings on the Zillow Rental Supervisor, which incorporates web sites from Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads.

Zillow sends certified leads—potential renters—to those advertisers to assist them maximize the return on investment on their promoting {dollars}. The corporate has recognized leases as a big market alternative. Renters transfer extra usually than householders, and property house owners should spend cash on promoting and lease concessions to fill items.


In early 2019, Zillow revealed that it was doubling down on its home flipping or Provides enterprise, which launched in April 2018. Central to this service, which shall be accessible in not less than 14 markets by the tip of the yr, is an actual property expertise development referred to as iBuying.

The transaction is streamlined and made faster and simpler for sellers, due to automation. Clients can use the net platform to ship Zillow particulars of their residence, and the corporate responds with a money provide inside days. The shopper can both settle for Zillow’s provide, listing their residence with a neighborhood agent that Zillow connects them to, or select to not promote in any respect. If Zillow buys the house, it fixes it up, relists it, and hopes to resell it inside 90 days.

In November 2021, Zillow introduced it might be winding down its residence shopping for service over a number of quarters, citing the “unpredictability in forecasting residence costs” and its impact of making extra steadiness sheet volatility. The corporate additionally introduced it might be shedding 25% of its workers.

Premier Companies for Actual Property Brokers

Zillow gives Premier Agent branding on their web site, which incorporates a number of itemizing service search, shopper evaluations, previous gross sales, bio, photographs, and movies. Real estate agents can even buy promoting with Zillow. Advertisements focused at customers in brokers’ native markets assist them get new shoppers who’re shopping for or promoting houses. The adverts additionally present brokers with elevated visibility for his or her listings to assist them discover consumers. The Premier Agent program additionally gives brokers with a buyer relationship administration system that helps them monitor Zillow customers who’ve expressed curiosity in working with an agent. Prices for providers fluctuate by zip code.

For the yr ending Dec. 31, 2020, Premier Agent income decreased from $943,947 in 2019, to $788,952 in December 2020, a lack of -16.41% month-over-month.

Actual property brokers primarily pay Zillow primarily based on the variety of advert impressions delivered to customers in specified zip codes. Premier Agent providers stay Zillow’s principal income.

Advert Gross sales to Mortgage Lenders and Different Companies

Zillow additionally sells promoting house on its website to mortgage lenders and different companies that wish to attain Zillow shoppers. These different companies embody inside designers, residence group retailers, basic contractors. Most of those advertisers are in the true property business, however some promote telecommunications providers, automotive services and products, insurance coverage, and shopper merchandise. Show income relies upon largely on the variety of month-to-month distinctive guests Zillow receives.

Mortgage lenders primarily pay Zillow primarily based on cost per click (CPC) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM). A click on implies that after looking for mortgage rates, the consumer requests extra data from a neighborhood lender, whereas an impression implies that the advert seems on Zillow’s on-line or cell website. Zillow additionally earns cash from the subscription-based mortgage software program firm Mortech, which is owned and operated by Zillow Group. It additionally gives lending providers by the Mortgage Lenders of America.

Threats to Zillow’s Income

Most of Zillow’s promoting relationships are short-term, so it may possibly’t take them without any consideration. Zillow’s promoting income, on which the corporate’s monetary success depends, may undergo if current advertisers ended their relationship and Zillow was unable to interchange them. If Zillow’s consumer base dwindles or its rivals change into extra engaging advertisers for mortgage lenders, property administration corporations, and actual property brokers, advert income may decline.

Additionally, as the corporate depends closely on advert income from its Premier Agent program, income may severely undergo if brokers cease seeing worth from promoting on Zillow. Lastly, successful to the true property market or a drop in consumer interest in residence shopping for and mortgages, each of that are past Zillow’s management, would seemingly cut back site visitors to the positioning and result in a drop in advert income.

The Backside Line

Zillow makes cash by promoting promoting on Zillow.com and the Zillow cell app to property administration corporations with vacancies, actual property brokers searching for consumers and sellers, and mortgage lenders searching for debtors. And it additionally sells to basic advertisers, particularly ones in the true property business.

Whereas it is clear Zillow took an enormous hit in its earnings and basic status because of the failure of its homebuying service, the corporate nonetheless leads the net actual property market.

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