It’s an interesting time for the real estate industry in the United States. Some places are super hot, while other areas remain down in the dumps. Meanwhile, the traditional property sale and rental market has been dealing with disruption in itself from the web, with information that was previously available to only real estate agents now accessible to the masses.
So it was good to sit down with Spencer Rascoff, the CEO of leading real estate search website Zillow, while he was visiting San Francisco this past week. Zillow is now a publicly traded company — its next earnings report is slated for tomorrow — so Rascoff couldn’t get too in detail on the specifics of Zillow’s financials. But there was still a lot more for us to discuss.
One very interesting thing we discussed was how the larger move toward mobile is affecting Zillow. Last quarter was the first time that more homes were viewed on Zillow through a mobile device or a tablet than on a desktop. Now, Zillow is not at all a unique company in experiencing this shift, but what is unique is that it actually has the immediate ability to make more money because of it — web firms such as Facebook and Pandora are notoriously having trouble monetizing their growing mobile user bases. Rascoff explained:
“We’ve tipped toward mobile in usage and that’s really quite startling and new for us, since just last quarter… We have welcomed it with open arms because this is a great boon to the business, and a catalyst that frankly has dramatically propelled our financial results. A user of Zillow on a smartphone for example, or a mobile device, is three times more likely to contact a subscribing premier agent, [which is] one of our advertisers, than a user of Zillow on a dekstop. So, we actually monetize in terms of contacts per visitor quite a bit better on smartphones or on mobile devices than on desktop.
So, this is a great trend for us and we welcome it… most other companies aren’t so lucky.”
Watch the video embedded above to see Rascoff dig in a bit deeper on mobile, talk about Zillow’s increasing focus on the rental real estate market, dish on what the next industries ripe for disruption could be, and more.