Zillow’s Ascent to the Housing Super App

In the ever-evolving landscape of real estate, Zillow Group has embarked on a transformative journey, meticulously crafting a blueprint for a comprehensive digital ecosystem. This vision is rapidly coming to life through a series of strategic acquisitions, each serving as a cornerstone in the architecture of what is poised to become the industry’s first housing super app.


From the acquisition of ShowingTime in October 2021, which revolutionized the way showings are scheduled and managed, to the recent integration of Follow Up Boss in November 2023, enhancing customer relationship management for agents, Zillow has been on a steadfast mission. The acquisitions of VRX Media and Aryeo have brought cutting-edge visual technology and marketing media solutions into the fold, while the addition of Spruce in September 2023 has promised to redefine the closing experience with its tech-enabled title and escrow services.


These strategic moves are not merely about expansion but signify a reimagining of the real estate transaction as a seamless, integrated experience. Zillow’s ambition is clear: to connect all the fragmented pieces of buying, selling, and owning a home into one streamlined, user-friendly platform. This series of acquisitions demonstrates Zillow’s commitment to leading the charge in innovation, setting a new standard for what consumers and professionals can expect from the real estate industry.


For real estate professionals, this narrative is not just a story of corporate growth but a clarion call to embrace the digital transformation that is reshaping their industry. As Zillow forges ahead, creating a super app that promises to encompass every aspect of the real estate journey, professionals are invited to join in this evolution, leveraging these tools to enhance their service and thrive in the new digital era.


The stage is set for a new chapter in real estate, with Zillow at the helm, steering towards a future where technology and human expertise converge to create unparalleled experiences for buyers, sellers, and agents alike.




Strategic Acquisitions To Housing Super App

Zillow’s journey toward creating a housing super app has been marked by a series of strategic acquisitions, each carefully timed to build upon the last, creating a comprehensive ecosystem for every aspect of the real estate transaction.


ShowingTime (October 2021): The acquisition of ShowingTime, a leader in real estate scheduling and showing technology, set the stage for Zillow’s ambitious plan. This move aimed to simplify the home touring process, a vital step in the real estate transaction. Mike Lane, President of ShowingTime, highlighted the potential of this integration, “Joining Zillow Group gives us an opportunity to amplify our reach and deliver on our mission to make the real estate transaction a seamless experience for consumers and professionals alike.”


VRX Media (December 2022): Following ShowingTime, Zillow acquired VRX Media, a provider of virtual tours and other 3D content, to enhance the visual representation of listings on its platform. This acquisition acknowledged the growing consumer demand for immersive online experiences in the real estate market.


Aryeo (August 2023): Aryeo’s platform, which provides marketing media solutions for agents and brokerages, was the next strategic addition. The acquisition aimed to enrich the content available to agents, with Aryeo’s co-founder and CEO, Branick Weix, stating, “We’re teaming up with ShowingTime+ because we both believe in building technology that makes the industry better.”


Spruce (September 2023): Zillow’s acquisition of Spruce, a tech-enabled title and escrow company, added a critical layer to its offerings, aiming to streamline the closing process. Matt Daimler, Zillow’s senior vice president of product, emphasized the importance of this acquisition, “With Spruce, Zillow is building a tech-forward, high volume title company for the future.” Patrick Burns, CEO and co-founder of Spruce, echoed this sentiment, “Like Zillow, Spruce is driven by the vision of offering an amazing transaction experience to buyers and sellers. We’re excited to join Zillow in the ambitious mission to create the best closing solution for the modern home-buying process.”


Follow Up Boss (November 2023): The most recent acquisition of Follow Up Boss, a leading CRM system, represents a significant leap forward in Zillow’s strategy to enhance the real estate professional’s workflow. Dan Corkill, CEO of Follow Up Boss, expressed his company’s aligned goals with Zillow, “We’re excited to join forces with Zillow… to help agents and teams more efficiently convert leads into clients and close more deals.”


These acquisitions, each a leader in their respective niche, are integral to Zillow’s commitment to building a comprehensive suite of tools that cater to every step of the real estate process. Rich Barton, CEO of Zillow Group, has been clear about this mission, stating, “We are building Zillow 2.0… a seamless, integrated online experience for the next generation of real estate.”


For real estate professionals, the message is clear: the future of the industry is being shaped by these strategic acquisitions, and staying ahead means embracing the digital tools and platforms that will define the real estate landscape of tomorrow.




The Vision of the Housing Super App

Zillow’s vision for a housing super app is a bold reimagining of the real estate landscape, where every step of the home journey is interconnected and simplified. This vision is becoming a reality through their strategic acquisitions, each carefully chosen to address a specific aspect of the real estate process, ultimately creating a seamless experience for users.


The acquisition of ShowingTime, a pioneer in real estate scheduling technology, laid the groundwork for this vision by streamlining the property showing process. This integration has made it easier for agents to manage their appointments and for buyers to view properties, setting a new standard for efficiency in the industry.


With VRX Media, Zillow embraced the power of visual storytelling, understanding that the future of real estate lies in immersive experiences. By providing high-quality virtual tours and 3D content, Zillow has enhanced the online property browsing experience, allowing potential buyers to envision themselves in a new home before ever stepping foot inside.


Aryeo’s acquisition brought a suite of marketing tools to Zillow’s arsenal, enabling agents to create compelling, media-rich listings. This move underscored the importance of high-quality content in the competitive real estate market, where the ability to stand out can make all the difference.


The integration of Spruce’s tech-enabled title and escrow services marked a significant step towards simplifying the often complex and opaque closing process. This move is a testament to Zillow’s commitment to removing barriers and creating a frictionless transaction experience from start to finish.


Finally, the acquisition of Follow Up Boss, a leading CRM platform, has empowered agents with sophisticated lead management and client relationship tools. This integration is crucial for agents to nurture leads effectively and convert them into successful transactions.


Together, these acquisitions form the backbone of Zillow’s housing super app, a platform that promises to cover every angle of the real estate process. This is a vision of a future where technology enhances every interaction, making the journey of buying, selling, and owning a home as intuitive and stress-free as possible.




Impact on Real Estate: Expedia’s Playbook

Zillow’s pursuit of a housing super app is not just an innovation; it’s a potential industry revolution reminiscent of Rich Barton’s previous disruption in the travel industry with Expedia. The parallels are striking, and the implications for the real estate sector could be just as transformative, if not more so.



In the ’90s, travel agents were ubiquitous, but Expedia’s digital consolidation changed that landscape forever. Real estate agents are now at a similar crossroads. Zillow’s super app could centralize and streamline the home-buying process, potentially reducing the agent’s role in transactions. Agents who adapt to this new technology, focusing on personalized service and leveraging the super app’s capabilities, could thrive, much like those travel agents who embraced the internet to enhance their offerings.



Brokers, akin to travel agencies during Expedia’s ascent, may find their traditional roles evolving. The super app’s all-encompassing nature could diminish the need for multiple intermediaries in real estate transactions, compelling brokers to differentiate themselves through unique services or by using the platform to augment their business models.


Mortgage Brokers

Mortgage brokers could see a shift similar to that experienced by financial advisors in the travel industry. As Zillow’s super app integrates mortgage services, it could become the primary channel for clients, potentially reducing the demand for independent mortgage advice. Mortgage professionals will need to offer more than just loan services; they’ll need to provide comprehensive financial guidance to remain indispensable.


Title Reps

Title representatives might face a shift comparable to that of travel insurance agents post-Expedia, where the digitization and centralization of services could lead to a reduced need for their traditional roles. To stay relevant, title reps will need to focus on providing exceptional service and handling complex transactions that require a human touch.


Data & PropTech Entrepreneurs

Data and PropTech entrepreneurs are looking at a future that could mirror the aftermath of Expedia’s rise, where access to a centralized pool of travel data spawned a new era of innovation. Zillow’s super app could serve as a similar foundation for real estate innovation, but entrepreneurs will need to navigate within a space where one platform holds significant market power.


The Consumer

Just as Expedia democratized travel, Zillow’s super app has the potential to democratize home buying and selling, offering consumers a more streamlined and transparent process. However, the risk of reduced competition and choice is a concern, as it was with the consolidation of travel options under Expedia.


The story of Expedia is a testament to the power of technology to disrupt and redefine industries. It serves as a valuable lesson for today’s real estate professionals: adaptability is key. As Barton’s vision for a housing super app unfolds, it’s clear that the real estate industry is on the cusp of a new era. Professionals who can leverage the super app’s capabilities while maintaining their unique value will find opportunities in this new landscape, much as those in the travel industry did when faced with the digital revolution.




Realtors Must Adopt AI: Adaptation

In the wake of Zillow’s push towards a housing super app, the real estate industry stands on the precipice of a digital transformation akin to the revolution in the travel sector spearheaded by Expedia. For realtors, the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a futuristic concept but an immediate imperative. This section explores the reasons why Real Estate AI must become an integral part of a realtor’s toolkit to navigate the changing tides effectively.


Adaptation as a Survival Strategy

The story of Expedia taught us that industries evolve, often rapidly, with technology acting as the catalyst. Realtors who adapt to AI-driven tools will not only survive but also thrive. AI can handle everything from predictive analytics to customer service inquiries, allowing realtors to concentrate on the strategic aspects of their business. This shift mirrors the transition of travel agents who leveraged online platforms to offer value that no algorithm could match.


Elevating Client Service

AI has the potential to revolutionize client interactions by providing insights that lead to more personalized service. For instance, AI can analyze a client’s preferences to suggest properties that best match their desires, much like Expedia’s recommendation engine. By adopting tools like the REfresh Engine, realtors can offer a level of service that anticipates clients’ needs and exceeds their expectations.


Informed Decision-Making

Data is the new currency in the digital economy, and AI is the best tool for mining its value. AI equips realtors with real-time market insights, predictive trends, and consumer behavior patterns, enabling them to make informed decisions swiftly. This data-driven approach is essential in an industry where timing and knowledge can mean the difference between closing a sale and losing a client.


Operational Efficiency and Growth

AI’s ability to automate routine tasks is a game-changer for operational efficiency. It allows realtors to manage their portfolios effectively, akin to how travel agents used online booking systems to handle a larger volume of bookings. This efficiency is not just about doing more in less time; it’s about scaling services without compromising quality, ensuring that growth is sustainable and manageable.


Proactive Innovation

The real estate professionals who will lead the market are those who not only adapt to change but also anticipate and drive it. AI is at the forefront of this innovation. By integrating AI into their business practices, realtors can offer cutting-edge services that set them apart from competitors, much like the travel agents who first adopted Expedia’s platform to offer a more comprehensive service.


Competitive Differentiation

In a market increasingly dominated by large platforms like Zillow’s super app, AI allows realtors to differentiate themselves. By leveraging AI, realtors can offer a bespoke, nuanced service that large platforms cannot easily replicate, ensuring they remain indispensable to their clients.



Strategies for Success in New World

The real estate industry is undergoing a seismic shift with Zillow’s development of a housing super app, reminiscent of the digital revolution that Expedia incited in travel. For realtors, navigating this new ecosystem requires strategic adoption of AI and a keen understanding of the evolving digital landscape. Here’s how realtors can position themselves to thrive in this new environment.


Embrace Technological Synergy

Realtors must seek out and integrate AI tools that complement their expertise. Platforms like the REfresh Engine from Likely.AI can predict likely buyers and sellers, enabling realtors to focus their efforts more effectively. This synergy between human insight and AI’s analytical power is the key to delivering exceptional service in a tech-driven market.


Cultivate a Unique Brand

In a market where Zillow’s super app could become the norm, realtors need to establish a unique brand presence. This means leveraging AI to enhance personal relationships and build a reputation for unparalleled service that goes beyond what an app can provide.


Leverage Data for Personalized Service

AI can process vast amounts of data to offer personalized insights. Realtors should use these insights to tailor their services to each client’s needs, much like travel agents used data to customize travel experiences in the Expedia era.


Adapt to Consumer Expectations

Today’s consumers expect seamless digital experiences. Realtors must adopt AI to meet these expectations, providing efficient, transparent, and responsive service. This adaptation is not just about survival; it’s about setting a new standard in client care.



Embracing Change and Moving Forward

As we draw the parallels between Zillow’s strategic acquisitions and the digital revolution that Expedia brought to travel, we also must consider the recent Sitzer/Burnett verdict and its implications for the real estate industry. This landmark decision, which challenges traditional real estate commission structures, could amplify the listings business and reshape the competitive landscape in which Zillow’s super app will operate.


The verdict, which calls for a more transparent and value-driven commission model, echoes the need for innovation and adaptation—themes that are consistent with the digital transformation we’re witnessing. It serves as a reminder that while technology like AI can empower realtors, the industry’s legal and regulatory frameworks also play a pivotal role in shaping their practices.


In light of this, realtors must navigate these changes with a dual focus: leveraging AI to enhance their business and staying informed about shifts in industry regulations that could impact their operations. The REfresh Engine by Likely.AI, with its patented Pre-Market AI models, exemplifies the kind of innovation that can help realtors stay ahead in a market that values data-driven decisions and transparency.



Call to Action: Steer Your Course with Confidence

In an industry where change is the only constant, equip yourself with the tools and knowledge to steer a confident course. Join our private facebook group to engage with a community of forward-thinking real estate professionals. Gain insights into how AI is transforming real estate and the phases that have led us here, get our white paper on real estate AI, written in partnership with T3 Sixty.


The future of real estate is unfolding before us, shaped by technology, consumer expectations, and now, landmark legal decisions. Embrace the REfresh Engine’s innovative capabilities to ensure that your journey through these dynamic times is not only successful but also well-informed and compliant with the evolving landscape of real estate commissions.


Brad McDaniel
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