Zillow Talks up "essentialism" of Agents as Former CEO Says CoStar Is "rooting for chaos"

April 20, 2022
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The President of Zillow, Susan Daimler has claimed that the real estate portal company is "bullish" on its relationship with U.S. real estate agents and has praised agents' "essentialism".

Daimler's comments came in an interview with legendary industry figure Brad Inman at the Inman Connect industry conference being held this week in New York.

The interview also included a swipe at a company that is increasingly becoming a rival for Zillow in the residential space. When asked about the specific threat that CoStar poses, Daimler responded by asking Inman if he knew the name of any Zillow rival that CoStar operates:

"I don't know the name. Do you?"

Daimler, who prior to her promotion to company President in February last year had been in charge of Zillow's flagship listings product Premier Agent, also said that competition is great and "keeps us all on our toes".

There was another thinly-veiled dig at CoStar with Daimler saying that Zillow believes "buyers should be represented by a separate agent than the sellers", a stance that is a "very different philosophy than other platforms".

The subject of so-called 'dual-agency' whereby the same broker represents both the buyer and the seller in a deal, was a hot topic of conversation at the conference with former Zillow CEO and co-founder Spencer Rascoff weighing in on the subject.

In a separate interview with Inman, Rascoff posited that the current government probe into possible collusion between buyer and seller agents in price-fixing could bring about a "black swan" event and see challengers like CoStar gain ground on incumbents like Zillow in the ensuing chaos:

"It would be chaotic if a black swan were to happen like cooperative compensation to be banned by the government. Can you imagine? It could happen.”

“When all the cards get thrown up in the air and everything changes, that’s when new entrants emerge, and new disruptors emerge,” Rascoff said. “And that’s very much what CoStar is trying to be.”

The scenario Rascoff was referring to could come about after the Department of Justice reneged on a settlement made with the National Association of Realtors under the previous administration and instead decided to broaden its investigation into whether agents can share pricing information with one another.

According to Rascoff, the turmoil in the world of U.S. residential agency which could result from any limitation of price sharing is something that CoStar is "absolutely rooting for".

Despite describing CoStar as "legit" and "not to be trifled with", the former Zillow CEO, who is nowadays focused on the second home ownership platform Pacaso, said that he hopes that the company does not go the way of Yahoo:

“My name is still kind-of, and probably always will be, connected to Zillow … So I’d rather be the co-founder of Google than the co-founder of Yahoo.”

 

April 20, 2022
Edmund got to know the world of portals and marketplaces working at Mitula Group (which became Lifull Connect after the buyout in 2018). He worked directly with hundreds of portals across the world in his role in the content department for three and a half years before transferring to the SEO department to understand the inner workings of listings sites. He joined Online Marketplaces as Head of Content in March 2020.

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