Last updated on February 9th, 2024 at 06:35 am

Zillow is a household name when it comes to online real estate, but have you ever wondered how they actually turn a profit?

The Zillow Group trades on the NYSE under the symbol Z.

While searching for your dream home or browsing rentals might seem like a free service, there’s a complex business model behind the scenes.

After all nothing is for free, lets see how they make money in the background. 

What is Zillow

Zillow is an online real estate marketplace that has revolutionized the way people buy, sell, and rent properties.

It provides a wealth of information, from home values and rental estimates to mortgage calculators and neighborhood insights.

Founded in 2006, Zillow quickly gained popularity and has since become one of the leading platforms in the real estate industry.

How does it Work

Zillow’s user-friendly platform allows individuals to browse through a vast database of homes and rentals across the United States.

By simply entering a location or address, users can access detailed information about properties, including photos, descriptions, and even virtual tours.

Zillow also offers tools for buyers and sellers to connect with real estate agents and mortgage lenders, making the entire process more convenient.

How do they  Make money

Have you ever wondered how Zillow generates it’s revenue? Lets explore the various ways Zillow makes money and sustains its operations

Zillow Revenue Streams

Zillow, the online real estate marketplace, generates its revenue through various streams.

      • Advertising: One of the primary sources of revenue for Zillow is advertising. The company offers advertising opportunities to real estate agents, property managers, and mortgage lenders who want to reach a large audience of potential buyers and renters. Zillow’s platform allows these professionals to showcase their listings and services, effectively targeting users who are actively searching for properties.

        • Featured Listings: Agents can pay to have their listings featured at the top of search results, increasing visibility and attracting more potential buyers or renters.

        • Premier Agent Advertising: Real estate agents can advertise themselves on Zillow by becoming a “Premier Agent”. This allows them to receive leads directly from Zillow users who are interested in buying or selling properties in their area.

        • Mortgage Advertising: Mortgage lenders can also advertise their services on Zillow to target users who are searching for home loans.

          • Zillow Offers: Zillow has introduced a service called “Zillow Offers” which allows homeowners to sell their properties directly to Zillow. This stream of revenue comes from the fees charged by Zillow for purchasing these homes. The company then lists these homes as “Zillow-Owned Homes” and sells them through its platform.

          • Partner Services: Zillow partners with various companies in the real estate industry to offer additional services to its users. These partnerships generate revenue for Zillow through referral fees or commissions. Some examples include:

            • Mortgages: Zillow connects users with mortgage lenders and receives a referral fee when a user chooses a lender through their platform.

            • Renters Insurance: Users searching for rentals on Zillow can also get quotes for renters insurance through the platform, with Zillow receiving a commission for each policy sold.

              • Data and Analytics: Zillow collects and analyzes a vast amount of data on the real estate market. This data is valuable to individuals, companies, and organizations in the industry who are looking for insights and trends. Zillow monetizes this data by offering subscription-based services to its customers, such as real estate agents or property developers, who can access advanced analytics and market reports.

              • Zillow Home Loans: In 2018, Zillow acquired Mortgage Lenders of America and rebranded it as “Zillow Home Loans”. This allows Zillow to offer mortgage services directly to its users, generating revenue through loan origination fees and interest payments.

              • Rentals: Zillow also generates revenue from rental listings. Landlords or property managers can pay to list their available rentals on the platform, reaching a wide audience of potential tenants. It’s called Rent Zestimate. Zillow offers different pricing options based on the number of listings and additional features desired.

            What is zillow rental manager

            Zillow Rental Manager is a tool that helps landlords and property managers streamline the rental process.

            It offers features such as listing creation, tenant screening, rent collection, and lease management.

            Users can choose from different pricing plans based on their needs, with Zillow generating revenue through subscription fees.

            This service simplifies the rental process for landlords while providing a reliable source of income for Zillow.

            Zillow Offers

            Zillow Offers is another revenue stream for the company. It is a service that enables homeowners to sell their properties directly to Zillow without going through the traditional listing process.

            Zillow then makes necessary repairs and improvements before selling the homes on the open market.

            When homeowners choose to sell their property through Zillow Offers, they receive a competitive cash offer based on market value. This service provides convenience and speed to sellers who may be looking for a quick sale without the hassle of showings or negotiations.

            After purchasing the properties, Zillow aims to sell them at a profit. By leveraging its extensive market data and expertise, the company can make informed decisions about pricing and timing to maximize its return on investment.

            Premier Broker

            Zillow’s Premier Broker program is designed for real estate brokers who want to connect with potential clients.

            Brokers who join this program gain access to exclusive benefits, including increased exposure, leads, and branding opportunities.

            By partnering with Zillow, brokers can reach a wider audience of buyers and sellers who are actively using the platform.

            This creates a mutually beneficial relationship where Zillow generates revenue from broker subscriptions while helping them grow their businesses.

            Mortgage Marketplace

            Zillow also operates a mortgage marketplace where users can compare loan options from various lenders

            When users choose a lender through Zillow’s platform and proceed with a mortgage application, the company receives a referral fee from the lender.

            This mortgage marketplace allows users to conveniently explore different loan options without leaving the Zillow platform. 

            By providing this service, Zillow caters to users’ needs while generating revenue through partnerships with lenders.


            In addition to buying and selling homes, Zillow offers rental listings on its platform.

            Landlords and property managers can advertise their rental properties to attract potential tenants.

            While basic rental listings are free, Zillow offers premium features for landlords who are willing to pay for increased visibility and additional marketing tools.

            These premium features include:

                • Rental Manager: Landlords can use this tool to manage their rental listings, receive applications online, and screen potential tenants.

                • Featured Listings: Similar to featured listings for home sales, landlords can pay to have their rental properties displayed prominently on search result pages.

              Zillow’s Expansion and Diversification

              One of Zillow’s expansion strategies is iBuying, where the company purchases properties directly from homeowners and then sells them on its platform.

              This allows for a more streamlined and efficient transaction process, although it does come with risks and potential challenges in accurately valuing properties.

              In addition to iBuying, Zillow has also diversified its revenue streams through strategic acquisitions.

              For example, their purchase of Trulia in 2015 helped expand their reach and user base.

              They have also acquired companies like Mortech and dotloop to enhance their mortgage and transaction management services.

              These initiatives demonstrate Zillow’s ambition to be more than just a real estate listing platform.

              By broadening their services and revenue sources, they aim to become a one-stop-shop for all things real estate, catering to the needs of both buyers and sellers at every stage of the process.

              Challenges and Criticisms zillow

              Some challenges and criticisms Zillow has faced include inaccuracies in its Zestimate feature, which provides estimated home values.

              This has led to disputes with homeowners and potential buyers who feel misled by the estimates.

              Additionally, there have been concerns about the impact of Zillow’s direct property purchasing program on local real estate markets, as well as accusations of unfair competition with traditional real estate agents.

              Critics argue that Zillow’s dominance in the online real estate market could lead to reduced options and increased costs for consumers.

              Final Thoughts

              It’s more than just a market place where users can see homes for sale. Zillow has an entire marketing program behind the scenes. 

              Zillow has successfully monetized its platform through targeted advertising, direct property purchases, broker partnerships, mortgage referrals, and rental listings.

              By offering a range of services to buyers, sellers, agents, and lenders, Zillow has become a dominant player in the real estate industry while generating substantial revenue.