Is there an equivalent to Zillow in Canada?
Zillow Group has become known for providing American Real Estate Searchers with a fast and easy to use, map-based real estate search platform. Along with their easy to use search platform, their website displays an abundance of property data, as well as their custom Zestimate™ feature which provides searchers with a quick and effortless way to research home prices. This allows Real Estate Consumers to do their own research by browsing real estate listings and sales data, prior to engaging with a professional of their choosing or with one of the Realtors® paying for Premiere Agent™ advertising space on Zillow’s platform. Is there currently a Zillow in Canada, or an equivalent that is trying to fill in the gaps?
To dive into whether there is a Zillow in Canada let’s first delve into Zillow’s monetization model. Their model is structured by collecting Premier Agent™ fees from REALTORS® paying to appear on listings within geographic regions of interest. This allows Premier Agents™ an opportunity to receive Buyer side leads on property listings that were supplied by another REALTOR®. With their acquisition of Mortgage Lenders of America, Zillow is also looking to collect orientation fees when they provide mortgage leads submitted through their platform to external lenders. These orientation fees may play into their home buying angle as well.
Update on Zillow in Canada
With regard to Zillow in Canada, the group recently made a move to display Canadian listings on their platform and they are in the process of adding more listings via alignments with Brokerages on this side of the border. The UX of the website is classic Zillow and very clean, but the listing inventory is low and the high-value data sets (sales data, Zestimate™ etc.) available stateside are not currently present.
Comparable Platforms to Zillow in Canada
In Canada, all the real estate boards feed their listings to the national website, Realtor.ca. Realtor.ca is operated by CREA, the Canadian Real Estate Association. This website has a national presence but is missing many of the features Zillow offers such as providing solid data and ease of use to search on their platform. Realtor.ca is typically referred to as clunky, dated and old.
On the surface level, DigiRealty.com would be the best Canadian listing provider with a similar user experience to Zillow. DigiRealty’s focus is to provide searchers with the most intuitive, fast and easy to use real estate search site. DigiRealty.com and Zillow also have similarities and differences in their monetization model. DigiRealty.com is operated by DigiRealty Technologies, which also owns and operates a wholly owned subsidiary real estate Brokerage. This entitles the company to monetize both commissions and advertising placements from aligned Agent Advertisers.
For readers that are unaware, here is a high-level overview of how some of these platform models are organized. Start off by viewing the sales channel as a funnel. Consumer traffic is in the top of the funnel (pageview etc.), consumer inquiries are in the middle of the funnel (leads, profiles and inquiries received by the Agent Advertiser), and a successful conversion/sale is at the bottom of the funnel (a closed deal). Obviously, the more deals that make it through the funnel, the more the platform can charge their Agent Advertisers for placements.
All things considered, Digirealty.com is likely the closest platform to Zillow in Canada
DigiRealty has an advanced map-based UX, fine-tuned advertising, placement and lead routing systems and a dynamic ‘go-to-market’ plan that will not be burdened by the bottlenecks that are existing for the established first movers. Where DigiRealty intends to excel, is always increasing the top of the funnel, along with focusing on reinventing the middle of the funnel activities centred around speed and thoughtful in market alignments. The already existing monster platforms know there is a problem with response speed and responder market knowledge alignment. Unless a multi-year revenue dip is okay with shareholders, they will be stuck with legacy premier placements and the associated downfalls.
DigiRealty believes that in-market, knowledgeable, lightning fast response speed and on-the-ground Agents will drive conversions. As a result of not having legacy booked revenue (that must stay on the books) from a potentially depleting premiere agent advertiser pool and a slow to response placement routing system that will bottleneck conversions DigiRealty is able to be more agile.
I wonder if the legacy, single player agent advertisers will leave platforms due to increases in response speed pressures that their small business cannot meet? If this is the case and we assume that qualified teams can nurture more middle to bottom of funnel leads to a conversion, will the resulting revenues offset the lost revenues? How does this transition look? It seems hard to imagine a case whereby a platform can service fast trigger teams and slow-moving placement agent advertisers at the same time. On a platform level, the teams likely provide better funnel to conversion movement, it will just be interesting to see how the shake back takes place.
In short, maybe the question should be, is there a Digirealty.com model in the states?