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Zillow Is Trying To Cozy Up To Real-Estate Agents With Its Latest Deal (Z)


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When we sat down with Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff the other week, we were struck by how eager he was to talk about how his company worked with real-estate agents.

That's far different from the story the company told when it launched—that it was leveling the playing field by giving homebuyers easy access to the kind of price information they used to have to go through an agent to get.

Agents were skeptical, and lashed back with complaints that Zillow's listings were out of date and its price estimates inaccurate.

Now Zillow is announcing that it's bought Buyfolio, a New York-based startup that helps homebuyers and agents collaborate on a purchase—swapping notes on interesting properties through a website or mobile apps.

Zillow makes money by charging agents to be prominently featured in listings, so that when prospective home buyers see a house, Zillow suggests an agent to them.

Buyfolio is Zillow's fourth acquisition. Past ones have also added to marketing services Zillow offers to agents, like managing listings and building websites.

Put simply: Zillow's trying to buy agents' affections—through services that help them close deals.

That, in turn, may actually help improve Zillow's data, by giving agents more of an incentive to keep listing data up to date in Zillow's systems.

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