Online real estate service Zillow is expanding its real estate listings today by adding “pre-market inventory” — specifically, homes that have either been foreclosed or are in the foreclosure process.
Increasing the selection of available homes is particularly important now, Zillow says, because the inventory of for-sale homes listed on the site has fallen by 20 percent over the past year (which the company argues is an indicator of the larger market). The company suggests that there’s already considerable interest from homebuyers in this kind of product, citing a study by the National Association of Realtors, which found that 55 percent of homeowners have considered purchasing a foreclosed home but don’t know how to find those listings or are discouraged by the complexity of the transaction.
The new listings are drawn from public records, Zillow says, and it looks like the vast majority (1nearly 1 million) of them consist of pre-foreclosure homes, where foreclosure proceedings have been initiated or an auction has been scheduled. Another 260,000 listings are homes that are owned by the bank or lender but are not yet listed for sale. (Zillow also counts 147,000 “Make Me Move” properties — where homeowners aren’t planning to sell but list a dream price for their home — as part of its pre-market inventory.)
In addition to the normal home information (bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage and so on), Zillow will also include the estimated sale price and foreclosure details. The company will also be listing contact information for foreclosure specialists who can help with the process, and it’s launching a new Foreclosure Center with information about the foreclosure process.
“Zillow is taking information that was really only available to a select group – in this case, savvy investors – and making it more easily available to interested home buyers,” said Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff in a press release. “What’s more, bringing this information to light, and taking this inventory out of the shadows, can help bring these homes to market faster than ever before.”
Earlier this month, Zillow launched an ad-free marketplace for rental professionals and landlords, based on its acquisition of RentJuice.
Update 1: I was wondering about the possibility that pre-foreclosure properties wouldn’t actually go up for sale, so I asked Zillow about it, and a company spokesperson sent me this response:
There’s always a chance pre-market inventory doesn’t go on the market as a homeowner may become current on the payments, an investor may buy the property or another home shopper, such as someone who found the home on Zillow, learns about the property and contacts the lender or homeowner.
Update 2: An earlier version of this post stated that 1.8 million homes have been added to Zillow, but a spokesperson tells me that number was wrong, due to a “counting error.”