No matter what you may think about Zillow, the Seattle-based real estate firm and its somewhat crazy approach to the market, credit must be given for its constant innovation.
On Tuesday it announced that it was joining 11 major newspaper publishing companies with a combined total of 282 newspapers throughout the country in a strategic partnership to extend the papers' local classified advertising to Zillow's online platform.
The newspaper companies joining Zillow at this point include the Hearst Newspapers;
Journal Register Company; Lee Enterprises, Incorporated; Media General, Inc.;
MediaNews Group, Inc.; Morris Communications Company, LLC; Paddock Publications;
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review; The E.W. Scripps Company; Times-Shamrock Communications
and The Day Publishing Company. These companies own or represent such major
market dailies as The San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, San Jose Mercury
News, The Tampa Tribune and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Advertisers in these papers, whether sellers or real estate agents, will have the option of having their listings and open house ads displayed on Zillow where, the company claims, four million people visit each month, with 70 percent either buying or selling a house at present or planning on doing so in the next one to two years.
Zillow's visitors will see a far more comprehensive set of listings and open house details in their market while the newspapers will be able to provide their advertisers with access to Zillow's real estate content which includes information on home values, neighborhoods, and market trends.
The parties to the consortium said they expect to roll out the features in the first half of next year and expect other newspapers to join the network before it officially begins.
Lloyd Frink, Zillow president said in a company-prepared press release, "Reading the weekend real estate section is a ritual that many enjoy and to brokers and agents, the paper is a core marketing tool. Now, the process of real estate discovery will be further integrated into the online world. We are honored that this consortium of newspaper companies has chosen Zillow as the partner to fast-track their presence in the digital real estate world. Research shows that 80 percent of home buyers use the Internet in the home-buying process. That, combined with Zillow's audience of engaged real estate enthusiasts, creates a huge opportunity for local brokerages looking to expand their reach online."
Speaking on behalf of the newspaper consortium, Lincoln Millstein, senior vice president of Hearst Newspapers, and Gregory P. Schermer, vice president for interactive media at Lee Enterprises, described the partnership as a significant step in the national aggregation of real estate listings online.
"The tremendous local reach of our newspapers and online sites, coupled with our strong local sales forces, provides a powerful springboard for this partnership with Zillow," Millstein said.
And Zillow continues to grow. Despite the lack of any affiliation with multiple listing services there are now 297,977 homes listed for sale nationwide on the Zillow site and the company's unique feature "Make Me Move," in which homeowners virtually dare buyers to make them an offer they can't refuse, currently features over 92,000 homes.