Today on PropTech Spotlight, we are comparing two popular home listing sites: Homesnap and Zillow.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Homesnap was founded in 2008 by Guy Wolcott, John Mazur, Steve Barnes. Homesnap is also the public-facing brand of the Broker Public Portal, a joint venture between brokerages and MLSs to create a national consumer home search experience characterized by simplicity, integrity and usability. Homesnap is the #1-rated agent mobile app and desktop site.
Zillow was founded by Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink, two former Microsoft executives, in 2006 and is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. By July 2011, Zillow began trading on the NASDAQ Stock Market. It strives to empower users with resources and information to make educated decisions about homes, real estate, and mortgages. Zillow is the most popular real estate website, garnering 36 million unique visitors a month as of January 2020.
Now, let’s focus in on what makes these companies leaders in the industry:
Q: What are they?
- Homesnap is an industry-endorsed platform that provides consumers with an exceptional home search experience by integrating real-time data from over 200 MLSs. Agents are given access to essential and effective mobile tools that facilitate their work and accelerate their success.
- According to its website, Zillow is "the leading real estate and rental marketplace" for users, providing access to information and real estate professionals that will assist them to buy, sell, or rent a home. Consumers access a database with over 110 million listed properties, including homes not currently on the market.
Q: What does each offer?
- The Homesnap platform is aimed to provide home shoppers the most up-to-date and comprehensive property information. Clients have full access to the same MLS data as realtors. Home buyers have free access to search, view photos, and see detailed information for listed and unlisted homes. Using Homesnap’s technology, consumers can use their mobile device to take a photo of any house and instantly access its details: size, number of bedrooms and baths, property taxes, school district, asking price and estimated value. Users can also connect with agents, share properties from the app, and get optional alerts for new listings, price changes, and market updates.
- Zillow gives consumers a free, personalized experience to browse the database and connect with agents. Shoppers can save favorite property listings, zip codes and neighborhoods and receive email updates on the property status. Buyers can also sign up for daily e-mail alerts on new homes listed for rent or sale. Zillow also provides clients the option to sell their home to Zillow for cash through Zillow Offers. The home is never listed, so the client avoids open houses, showings and home prep. There is no application fee, hidden cost or out-of-pocket expenses for the client. After the seller receives an offer from Zillow within days, they can choose to accept or reject and sell with an agent.
Q: How does each benefit the real estate agent?
- Homesnap Pro is designed to make it easier for real estate agents to work on the go, by putting real-time agent only MLS data into their hands, for free.
- Unified data search: Agents have mobile access to MLS data, such as property summaries, school districts, price history, recent sales, and comps.
- Off-Market Marketplace: The platform uses machine learning to identify and display potential sellers on heatmaps and scores homes on a Likelihood to List. This helps agents distinguish potential sellers or properties in their market that match their buyers' search criteria before they go on the market.
- Homesnap News Feed: Through the app, agents can monitor zip codes, display clients’ favorited properties and be alerted about market changes relevant to their listings and clients’ favorites.
- Free qualified leads: As a listing agent on Homesnap, your name and information is displayed with any home you claim. When a user is interested in the property or wants to schedule a showing, they can directly message you via in-app messaging.
- Instantly schedule showings: After connecting with clients, agents can schedule showings using app integrations: ShowingTime and Centralized Showing Service. The agent can specify available dates and times, open up availability and cancel showings. While at a showing agents can silently activate a Safety Timer. The agent sets the duration for the timer, which can be adjusted throughout the showing. If the timer expires without the agent ending it, it will alert the previously selected emergency contact. A one-touch distress alert can be activated if in an immediate problem.
- Zillow Premier Agent provides agents tools and resources to help them convert active buyers and sellers into long-term clients.
- Exclusive branding: Agents can place ads directly in search results when users are searching online or through the app.
- Actionable insights: Agents have insight into what buyer information about the homes they are viewing, saving and searching for on Zillow and Trulia. Agents can be alerted when clients begin searching after a period of inactivity, clients repeatedly view a home, and if clients expand their search to a new zip code.
- Tools to convert: Agents stay at the top of clients’ minds by leveraging Zillow’s CRM to remain as the only agent the buyer sees on listings. They can also recommend homes directly through the app and receive messages from clients through Zillow or Trulia.
- The cost of Zillow Premier Agent varies because it is determined by two major factors: the average home price in your chosen zip code and the number of other agents competing for space.
Q: What other tools do they provide for agents?
- Homesnap Pro+: Pro+ allows agents to claim and optimize their Google Business Profile and improve online visibility. Homesnap Pro+ gives agents a balance of control over their content for social media while also being automated. It is offered as a monthly or annual subscription service.
- Monthly: $49.99/month, beginning the day you purchase
- Annual: Discounted rate of $399/first year; the full rate of $599/year after
- Homesnap Pro Ads: Agents can arrange ads to simultaneously run on Facebook, Google, Instagram and Waze. You set ad budget for each network and make any necessary budget changes depending on performance of the ad.
- Zillow Premier Agents have featured exposure on Zillow Agent Finder and premium placement on Zillow’s other network sites: Trulia, StreetEasy, Realtor.com
- An IDX website is available to the agent with a custom domain name
- Agents can share links to promote virtual open houses
- Agents can collect and highlight their reviews from clients to further build their online reputation.
- Agents can work with Zillow Offers by representing Zillow to earn a commission, requesting and presenting Zillow’s offer to the seller, or helping sellers who reject Zillow’s offer with a traditional sale.
Q: What are significant advantages and disadvantages of each?
- Homesnap and Homesnap Pro are available on one unified app
- Homesnap adheres to a set of Fair Display Guidelines
- There are no “featured” listings or paid placement. When a potential client wants to inquire about a property, they will find only the names and information of the actual listing broker and agent.
- The number of MLSs available limits coverage of property data.
- Homesnap only includes information on listed and unlisted homes.
- Generate leads directly from Zillow and outbid other realtors for listings that are not yours.
- Complete Nationwide access to
- Provides information on homes available for rent
- Zillow and Zillow Premier Agent are available as two separate apps
- Zillow and other network sites do not adhere to the Fair Display Guidelines
- Zillow does not qualify leads
The products of Zillow, Trulia and HomeSnap are actually very similar.
HomeSnap does essentially the same thing as Zillow and Trulia - provide access to real estate information. The premise of HomeSnap is to allow you to see information about the property you're standing in front of. Zillow, Trulia and HomeSnap all do this; however, the process for the consumer is slightly different. All use GPS in combination with the compass to enable this feature but where Zillow and Trulia show you a map and your location relative to the home around you, HomeSnap requires a photo to be taken before showing the home, which adds a few steps. The main reason is likely that they're trying to crowdsource property photos.
Additionally, Zillow and Trulia have nationwide coverage of not only unlisted homes but homes listed for sale a rent, which is a significant different to HomeSnap which lacks this coverage.
From the agent's perspective, they all have the same goal - providing business tools to agents to help them grow and manage their business. HomeSnap is taking the approach of going to MLSs to provide tools to agents via MLSs partnerships. Something Zillow and Trulia aren't doing since there are over 900 regional MLSs in the country and deals aren't done quickly. Their HomeSnap Pro product looks interesting in that it provides agents with agent only info (commission rate & showing instructions) for listings in the 3-5 MLSs where HomeSnap has a partnership. Agents are sure to love that, especially in an app that actually works. There are some other tools in their Pro product as well, which are similar to offerings both Zillow and Trulia provide.