To survive, companies, no matter the industry, must evolve with the times and continue to create new and innovative ways to help their markets. More than a decade later, two giants are doing just that in the United States real estate industry and beyond.
Seattle’s two biggest digital real estate brands—online brokerage Redfin and media and services brand Zillow—boldly ruffled feathers when they each launched more than 12 years ago. Zillow’s free, public home valuations empowered consumers, but led to complaints and attempted lawsuits as to the figures’ accuracy, and Redfin’s CEO Glenn Kelman regularly spent time testifying to federal government agencies about how the traditional multiple listing service and traditional agent model stymied the consumer.
These days the two companies, both publicly traded and with large national footprints, are managing well-built reputations while gently pushing deeper into the real estate industry they set out to disrupt. And that has interesting implications for their brands.
Redfin came out guns blazing in 2005, asserting that its combination of salaried (versus commissioned) real estate agents and unique tech tools could not only help consumers find homes faster but also for less money since Redfin provides buyers with both tech-driven efficiencies and a commission rebate. The company eventually launched seller listing services for as little as 1 percent in many markets (less than the 2.5 percent to 3 percent fee sellers typically pay).
When Zillow launched in 2005, it helped consumers by lifting the lid off hard-to-find home valuations—“Zestimates,” in Zillow-speak—and it swiftly became a go-to resource for consumers researching home values, homes for sale, rentals, as well as a place to read up on real estate trends and shop for agents.
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