Zillow is a real estate platform that lists available homes for rent and sale while connecting interested buyers with suitable agents.
The company, which is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, was founded in 2005 by Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink.
Zillow attracts 234 million unique users per month, which is equal to 70 percent of all people in the United States. For 2021, the site totaled 10.2 billion visits. This makes Zillow by far the most-visited real estate platform in the country.
One of the reasons for Zillow’s popularity is its Zestimate, which is an estimate of a home’s market value. The figure is comprised of public, MLS (Multiple Listing Service), and user-submitted data. Zillow claims it can predict prices in metropolitan areas with a median error rate of less than 2 percent.
While the accuracy of the Zestimate is being debated to this date, it has nevertheless kept Zillow in the news – and certainly contributed to its rapid ascend.
Zillow has utilized that popularity to expand into various business lines. Apart from deriving income from listing fees, Zillow also makes money from multiple marketing and organization tools for agents. A more detailed description of Zillow’s business model can be found under the linked article.
Unfortunately, not all of the firm’s business lines have performed as expected. In 2019, Zillow entered the iBuyer segment, which meant it began to directly purchase and sell homes. After two years, in November 2021, Zillow announced the shutdown of the division, called Zillow Offers, alongside the release of 25 percent of its workforce.
Zillow, despite the setbacks, remains one of the leading real estate companies in the nation. The firm went public all the way back in July 2011. Another significant source of growth has been acquisitions. In July 2014, Zillow made its biggest purchase to date, acquiring competing listing site Trulia for $3.5 billion.
Those acquisitions and its resulting leading position have enabled the company to generate $8.1 billion in revenue for 2021. Zillow Offers, its iBuyer division, accounted for $6 billion. The firm offloaded 18,000 homes and is meant to get rid of the rest in 2022.
The methodology with which competitors of Zillow are ranked is based on publicly available information. Data points such as the revenue generated, monthly website visitors, number of agent partners, and anything else in between will be considered.
This analysis, in order to ensure comparability, primarily compares Zillow with companies that are known as listing platforms. However, some iBuyers and brokerages will also be included given that they all compete for the same type of customers (i.e., people trying to purchase and sell homes).
Additionally, only competition within the United States and Canada will be taken into account since those are the two countries that Zillow operates in.
Lastly, this analysis should not be seen as an endorsement of any company or service. It merely acts as a summary of all the competition that Zillow faces as of today.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top 10 competitors of Zillow.
Headquarters: Seattle, Washington, United States Founder(s): David Eraker, David Selinger, Michael Dougherty Year Founded: 2004
Redfin is certainly the biggest competitor to Zillow when it comes to website traffic and reach. Its app and website are visited a combined 44 million times each month. The platform even has its own price estimate, which it launched in 2015.
However, Zillow had also copied its arch-rival before. In fact, Zillow founder Rich Barton allegedly got the idea for starting Zillow after meeting with Redfin founder David Eraker who showed him the listing technology he had developed.
Nevertheless, today’s Redfin is fairly different from Zillow. First and foremost, Redfin is actually a real estate brokerage that employs the agents that serve customers. By not relying on a commission-based monetization model, it is able to offer substantially lower commission rates to both buyers and sellers. For instance, if one decided to purchase a home with Redfin, then the buyer commission is split between the company and the buyer of the home.
Redfin is able to offer lower commission rates because it is a) technology-enabled but b) also offers comparatively fewer services to minimize cost. The majority of the sales process is being handled via its app and website.
Moreover, Redfin currently accounts for 1.15 percent of all real estate sales in the United States, which is equal to around $52 billion in overall transaction volume (2021).
It has utilized its data and reach to expand into iBuying back in 2019. Interestingly, it launched its iBuyer division, dubbed RedfinNow, in partnership with today’s leading iBuyer Opendoor.
However, unlike many of its competitors, Redfin takes a more measured approach to buying homes. RedfinNow is currently only available in around a dozen states. Consequently, the company only purchases and sells homes in the low four-digit range.
Redfin generated revenues of $1.9 billion in 2021 alone. A quarter of that can be attributed to its iBuyer division while the majority is still derived from its brokerage business. Lastly, Redfin employs close to 5,000 people (counting both agents and other types of staff).
Headquarters: Santa Clara, California, United States Founder(s): RealSelect, National Association of Realtors Year Founded: 1995
Realtor.com is another staple in the real estate listing space. Actually, it was one of the pioneers in bringing real estate online.
The platform started out as the Realtor Information Network (RIN), a locked network offering proprietary information to members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). However, the development of the site became a huge failure, which prompted the NAR to seek outside help – which it found with RealSelect.
In 1996, Realtor.com was released by NAR and RealSelect, allowing anyone to post and browse listings. Being one of the first listing sites, it quickly grew to millions of site visitors.
News Corp, in 2014, decided to purchase Realtor.com’s parent company Move Inc. (which RealSelect had rebranded into) for $950 million. The media conglomerate poured in tens of millions into the site ever since, for example by beefing up its editorial team and launching national TV campaigns (.
Realtor.com is now widely believed to be one of the three most visited real estate listing sites in the United States. Around 150 million people visit its website every month according to Similarweb.
The service has been able to grow revenues by 36 percent in 2021, largely driven by a heated real estate market. Realtor.com currently employs close to 3,000 people.
Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois, United States Founder(s): Visual Properties Year Founded: 1992
Apartments.com is America’s most popular pure-play rental site. The site has 1.1 million listings including apartments, condos, townhomes, and houses for rent.
It was created as a subdivision of Classifieds Ventures, which itself owns various listing sites across the United States. Associated businesses include ApartmentHomeLiving.com and RentalHomesPlus.com, among others.
As for Apartments.com, its popularity has been aided by famous TV spots. The most notable example revolves around Brad Bellflower, played by Jeff Goldblum, who is a “lofty tech CEO-type who’s brimming with confidence, ambition, and just the right amount of delusion.”
This advert (and many others) was made possible by the CoStar Group, which acquired Apartments.com for $585 million in April 2014. Soon after, CoStar poured $75 million into its new business, for instance by launching its national TV campaign.
The platform is supported by the nation’s biggest research team. Over 500,000 properties nationwide have been photographed and verified by them. Apartments.com, which employs over 500 people, is visited more than 61 million times each month.
Headquarters: San Francisco, California, United States Founder(s): Alejandro Foung, Pete Flint, Sami Inkinen Year Founded: 2004
Trulia, despite being owned by Zillow, remains one of its fiercest competitors as well. Prior to the purchase, both companies were calling each other out on the regular. Over the years, Trulia’s former CEO and co-founder Pete Flint took multiple shots at Zillow, claiming that his service was far superior while attracting more customers.
Trulia’s founders, who met during their graduate studies at Stanford, launched the company after being frustrated with the lack of available information regarding homes. They managed to raise close to $35 million in venture funding and took the company public back in September 2012 (netting them another $102 million during the IPO).
A mere two years later, they sold Trulia to Zillow for $3.5 billion. It has to be noted that Zillow hasn’t really done much with Trulia since the acquisition, most likely to boost its own popularity and save cost.
Instead, Zillow continues to bank on Trulia’s historic popularity. The site still attracts around 57 million visitors every month and, in all likeliness, contributes a significant portion of Zillow’s overall revenue.
Headquarters: New York City, United States Founder(s): Mike Weiss, Ori Allon, Robert Reffkin, Ugo Di Girolamo Year Founded: 2012
Compass, unlike Zillow (and more like Redfin), is actually a real estate brokerage first and lead generating site second. In fact, it is the leading real estate brokerage in the United States, facilitating 225,000 transactions worth $254 billion in 2021 alone.
Compass, apart from raising billions in venture capital and acquiring the nation’s best brokerages (it has spent more than $300 million on acquisitions since 2018), has grown rapidly by trying to revolutionize the industry from within. Its agents have access to an unparalleled collection of software tools, which helps improve their performance.
For example, it has developed a platform called Compass Collections, which allows agents and clients to collaborate in real-time by utilizing image-based albums. Users now refer to the platform as the Pinterest of Real Estate. Agents are, furthermore, provided with a plethora of data and reports, which helps them assess how they’re doing.
Compass now works together with 26,000 agents across the United States where it’s available in 69 markets.
The brokerage has, furthermore, expanded into new types of business lines. For example, Compass works together with athletes and celebrities to help them list or sell their homes anonymously. Moreover, it is now managing real estate development projects in the world’s leading markets such as New York City.
The continued success has enabled Compass, which has raised $1.5 billion during its life as a private company, to go public in April 2021. The IPO netted the firm another $450 million. In 2021, Compass generated $6.42 billion in revenue. Its website, which lists all of its available homes, is visited six million times every month and continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Headquarters: Norfolk, Virginia, United States Founder(s): Homes and Land Publishing Year Founded: 1993
Homes.com is another CoStar-owned web property. In April 2021, the software provider purchased Homes.com for $156 million in cash. The platform lists millions of homes that are either up for rent or sale.
Homes.com itself was launched in 1993 as the primary website of Homes and Land Publishing, a real estate magazine. They pivoted into listings in 1999, a move that was supported by $38.5 million in venture funding raised a few months later.
Agents, buyers, and sellers are connected via the platform’s website and mobile app. Apart from rentals and houses on sale, users can also search over 400,000 foreclosed homes, calculate mortgage rates, and more.
As of today, more than 400 people are employed by Homes.com. Its website alone is being visited over 10.5 million times.
Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia, United States Founder(s): unknown Year Founded: 1975
ApartmentGuide is the last pure-play listing site on here. The platform is owned by RentPath, which in turn was sold to Redfin for $608 million in April 2021.
RentPath had previously filed for bankruptcy and was supposed to be acquired by CoStar. However, then-CEO Dhiren Fonseca terminated the agreement between the two companies, which ultimately led to the Redfin takeover.
ApartmentGuide is primarily focused on listing rental properties, whether it’s apartments, condos, houses, or townhomes. The platform, which counts close to 10 million monthly website visitors, boasts hundreds of thousands of listings.
Headquarters: San Francisco, California, United States Founder(s): Eric Wu, Ian Wong, JD Ross, Keith Rabois Year Founded: 2014
Zillow was one of Opendoor’s biggest competitors – until it wasn’t. After Zillow’s announcement to shut down Offers, Opendoor actually doubled down and began to expand multiple new markets.
Opendoor operates just like any other iBuyer in that it makes quick, non-binding cash offers on houses that fit certain parameters (built after 1960, single-family homes, etc.). Owners don’t necessarily need to sell their house to Opendoor but can simply list on its platform.
Co-founder Wu certainly knows what he’s doing. He began purchasing homes when he entered college. By the time he graduated from university, he owned around 25 homes in the Phoenix area. Prior to launching Opendoor, in 2013, he sold another real estate startup (RentAdvisor.com) to Apartment List.
Opendoor went public in December 2020, which netted the company $1 billion. It raised another $1.5 billion during its time as a startup. In 2021, Opendoor generated $8 billion in revenue. Furthermore, the company purchased around 37,000 homes and sold close to 22,000 homes over the same time period.
Today, Opendoor operates in 50 markets across the United States. Its website (excluding the app) is visited 2.5 million times every month while the firm employs close to 3,000 people. Opendoor is considered to be the leading platform in the iBuyer industry ahead of other services such as Offerpad and RedfinNow.
Headquarters: Rockville, Maryland, United States Founder(s): Guy Wolcott, John Mazur, Steve Barnes Year Founded: 2008
Homesnap is a real estate search platform that gives its users access to home listings across the United States by partnering with local MLS providers. It claims to be the only national real estate platform that provides users with the same type of MLS data that agents normally have access to.
For instance, users can snap a photo of a given house and Homesnap provides them with data points such as value estimates, interior photos, taxes, lot boundaries, school ratings, and much more. Much like Zillow, agents can opt into various offerings to market themselves to prospective buyers and sellers.
Homesnap works together with more than one million real estate agents across the United States. And just like many other firms on this list, HomeSnap is also owned by CoStar. In November 2020, HomeSnap was acquired for $250 million in cash.
The platform was projected to generate $40 million in annual revenue for the year 2020. Its website is, furthermore, visited 4.5 million times each month (excluding app visits, which should be substantially higher given the firm’s mobile-first focus).
10. Keller Williams Realty
Headquarters: Austin, Texas, United States Founder(s): Gary Keller, Joe Williams Year Founded: 1983
Keller Williams is the world’s largest real estate franchise. As a franchisee, it allows other brokerages to operate under the Keller Williams brand and thus offer the same products and services.
After becoming the largest brokerage in Texas, Keller Williams began to expand across the nation in the early 1990s. In 2012, now the second-biggest brokerage in the United States, Keller Williams opened its first international office in Vietnam under the Keller Williams Worldwide (KWW) brand. That same year, it also opened offices in Indonesia and South Africa, with dozens of other countries following in the years thereafter.
In 2021, its agents closed $532.2 billion in sales volume in the U.S. and Canada alone (another $12.1 billion could be attributed to KWW). The firm is home to 173,274 agents in the United States and Canada and 14,847 agents located abroad.
The Keller website alone is visited three million times every month. The brokerage has also developed a consumer-facing mobile app through which home buyers and sellers can interact with contracted agents.
The above-mentioned companies are certainly not the only ones trying to dethrone Zillow. After all, the housing market in the United States alone is projected to be worth $43 trillion, leaving enough of the pie for others.
First and foremost, there are a plethora of additional listing sites that didn’t make the cut. Examples include Curbed, HotPads (both owned by Zillow), Rent.com, and many others.
There are, furthermore, sites focused on certain use cases. For example, FSBO.com solely lists properties that are directly sold by the owner while Foreclosure.com, you guessed it, is centered around foreclosures.
Naturally, Zillow and its agents compete with traditional real estate brokerages as well. The brokerage market, apart from Compass or Keller Williams, is dominated by the likes of Realogy, HomeServices of America, RE/MAX, and others.
Lastly, the iBuyer segment has also managed to scoop up a significant number of homes and customers. Non-mentioned examples include Offerpad or Knock.