Zillow continues to dominate the listing syndication search site traffic. With an average of 8.3 Million unique visitors to the site each month in 2009, they are crushing their 2008 traffic by 60 percent! But they want to be the number one site period to surpass Realtor.com, so what are they doing?
Zillow Adds Rental Listings – Charges For Them
Today Zillow announced they will be adding the ability for landlords to advertise their for lease properties on the site. You can search them at Zillow Rentals. Here’s the kicker, Zillow knows they need to start making money. (After all they’ve received $87 Million in venture capital funding… someone is going to start wanting some of that back.) Without specific information, I’m sure that their ad revenues are down. Their primary ad partners were Realtors advertising themselves and their listings. With revenues to Realtors down they are surely not forking over the dollars they were willing to in 2006.
So, to add a for lease listing to Zillow they will charge $9.95 for the post to be live 180 days. Each post is entered manually and not received via a syndication feed. This means that Realtors will not have the ability to have their rental listings appear on Zillow without manual entry and paid insertion.
I believe that this new rental traffic could drive as much as 15% new traffic to Zillow’s site which would put them in the number one spot for all real estate websites. We’ll see though if they can drive enough traffic by having paid insertions. My guess is that at some point rentals will go the same way that for sale properties do. Paid insertion for manual entries, free if included in the feed.
Search By Monthly Payment
Zillow is also adding a new Search by Payment feature to the filters once results are returned. These new feature will compare For Rent listings with the expected average mortgage payment to purchase a home. This way people in the market considering renting can see what they would be able to buy for the same price.
Zillow To Charge To Manually Insert For Sale Listings
While it’s a big deal that Zillow will be adding rental listings, I think the hidden story is Zillow finally going after revenue…
According to Zillow, 3% of all listings on the site are manually inserted. This means a Realtor, Brokerage, or Owner is manually typing in the details of the home and uploading the pictures. Like the rental listings, Zillow will now charge brokers to do this. Again the fee will be $9.95 for 180 days listed on the site. The fee however does get you something extra… manually uploaded listings will now be featured on the site.
However, this is going to effect some people that generally really understand the power of Zillow and are probably some of their biggest proponents. Chances are these manual insertions are from small to independent brokerages and for sale by owners that don’t have the resources to create their own feed. These agents need to immediately find a resource to syndicate such as Postlets, VFlyer, or Tribus’ listing syndication system. (Owners will still be able to list a “Make Me Move” price, it doesn’t allow them to feature the property for sale. Also if your listing is currently for sale it will stay on there until January 13th when it will expire or you’ll have to pay.) I wonder though, will Postlets or Vflyer start to consider charging because of this?
Consider that Zillow has around 4 million listings on the site. 3% of 4 million is 120,000. Potential revenue: $1.2 million every 180 days. I think it’s more probable that only a small percentage of those people will end up actually paying for the service. But it’s a start to making $87 Million.
So will landlords pay to place listings on Zillow? Will sellers and small brokers? That has yet to be seen.