Interested in Real Estate Listings? Most likely, you’ve visited zillow.com to look up your real estate home values or zillow people search. Today, we’ll learn more about Zillow via this interview with the Zillow CFO. Enjoy the interview and be sure to learn more about real estate listings by using zillow as well as other real estate websites.
Be sure to read our other interviews in our leadership series.
We’re pleased to speak with Spencer Rascoff, Chief Financial Officer, of Zillow.com. most of you have heard of zillow.com — it’s been covered by almost everybody from NPR to Techcrunch; from the Washington Post to CNN. today, we’re going to learn a little about how zillow is changing how we think of real estate.
Spencer, please provide a short bio on yourself
I’m the CFO and Vice President of Marketing at Zillow. Prior to joining Zillow, I was Vice President of Lodging for Expedia. In 1999, I co-founded Hotwire.com, a leading Internet travel company, and ran several product lines there. Hotwire was sold to InterActiveCorp in 2003. Before my career at Hotwire, I served as an investment professional at the Texas Pacific Group, a leading private equity firm. Previously, I worked as an investment banker in the mergers and acquisitions group at Goldman Sachs in New York. I also held other investment positions at Bear Stearns and Allen & Company. I graduated cum laude from Harvard University.
What is the business problem or opportunity that zillow is addressing?
Americans are obsessed with real estate. Interestingly ¾ of Americans own real estate, while only ¼ own stocks. Yet there are numerous ways to keep track of your stocks, and nothing that allows you to keep tabs on your home’s value. Furthermore, there was no easy way to find out what you could sell for or what you could afford, without first contacting an agent. Previously, no site offered all that information in one place, anonymously and for free.
How does zillow address the business problem? how is this approach disruptive?
Zillow.com is providing free, unbiased valuations and data on more than 65 million homes nationwide. This allows potential sellers to get an idea of what they could sell for, allows potential buyers to get an idea of what they could afford, and allows homeowners to keep track of their largest investment — their home. You can also modify this estimate with things you know about a home that Zillow may not, such as a recent remodel.
How does zillow compare to other companies in it’s space? — i.e., why should a customer go with zillow rather than someone else or via another venue?
Many Web sites claim to give you the value of your home, yet they make you enter in personal information and then sell it to an agent as a lead. Zillow, on the other hand, lets you browse and educate yourself to your heart’s content. Zillow makes its money by selling advertising space on the site — not by selling your information.
Anything else you’d like to share?
One of the most unique features on Zillow.com, which was briefly touched upon earlier, is My Zestimator — a tool which allows you to refine the value of your home. Zillow gets much of its information from county records, which are not always up to date. By using the My Zestimator tool, users can correct information (such as number or bedrooms and bathrooms), calculate the value of recent home improvements (such as a kitchen remodel or deck addition), and select comparable homes that have recently sold in the area. All this new information is then re-calculated into the Zillow algorithm to give you a refined value.