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Web 3.0 and ZipRealty

Posted on Tuesday, Jul 10th 2007

We have already discussed the online realty industry overview. Now we take a look at ZipRealty’s offering from a Web 3.0 perspective.

ZipRealty, founded on January 25, 1999, operates as a full-service real estate brokerage firm. The company offers its services across 27 major markets in 16 states in the US and the District of Columbia. The site won the Inman Innovator Award in 2004. ZipRealty was ranked ninth in the Hitwise survey of top Real Estate sites in the US in February 2007.

Deloitte Technology Fast 500 also ranked ZipRealty among the highest-ranked real estate brokerage companies in 2006 for the second consecutive year. With a five-year growth performance of 2,257 percent, the site was also ranked among the top 100 nationally as well as fifth regionally in the Internet, Media & Entertainment and Communication category of the Technology Fast 50 for Silicon Valley.

ZipRealty with its ease of use, easy inter-category navigation, animated demo, FAQ and neat design makes an impression.

Context is the king in ZipRealty. The site serves localized information on property replete with map directions, local agents, neighborhoods, movers and lenders. Moreover, ZipAgent Platform (ZAP) directs users to local ZipAgents who interact with buyers to show them properties, negotiate, advise and help them in the transaction.

ZipRealty has websites in foreign languages like Spanish, Chinese and Korean, which helps people who want to make cross-border property purchases.

ZipRealty allows users to search and make transactions for buying / selling / renting of houses, apartments, flats, look for neighborhood, movers, realtors, lenders and also find information on mortgage and utility connectors, etc. The site allows users to compare quotes from up to six moving companies, or get an instant price quote from ZipRealty’s self-service moving providers.

The site has a number of interesting tools. The ZipRealty Mortgage Center powered by E-Loan allows free loan evaluation, pre-approved loans and quick processing.

The Mortgage Calculator allows users to calculate estimated monthly mortgage payments, tax savings and compare ARM loans and traditional loans, etc.

ZipRealty’s Multiple Listing Services (MLS) allows users to directly access local home listings furnishing detailed information on asking prices, home layouts, neighborhood attributes, school district information, comparable home sales data, maps and driving directions, etc.

The Rent Vs. Buy tool allows users to decide whether it makes financial sense to Rent or Buy a house or apartment and the cost and savings associated with the decision.

The Price your Home tool provides users with reviews on current, pending and sold properties in their locality, reports on market conditions, pricing, and strategies and gives updates on interested buyers and marketing results.

ZipRealty along with Price Track allows home seekers with tight budgets to look for property listings with reduced price.

Price Reduction Index is ZipRealty’s latest offering which monitors housing trends across 18 markets in the US giving monthly increase or decrease in housing purchases.

ZipRealty scores poorly on community features. The site has a business blog where it publishes articles on market trends. Though users are free to comment on these articles, they are not allowed to make posts. There is also no message board or forum where ZipRealty users can share their views, post questions or send replies, as in Zillow.

ZipRealty’s revenues are comprised primarily of commissions earned as agents for buyers and sellers in residential real estate transactions.

Personalization in ZipRealty allows registered users can also interact with ZipAgents for more information on property deals. ZipNotify allows consumers to receive an automatic email notification each time a property, which meets their desired search criteria, is listed on the local MLSs.

Vertical Search
ZipRealty allows users to search homes by location, price, square footage, lot size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, map geography and distance from a specified address. The site caters to most of the contextual nuances. This means I can look for a penthouse with fireplace or search for an apartment with a view.

Business Model
The site earns most of its revenues from commissions, and also has co-marketing arrangements, with E-Loan, WhiteFence, LeadFusion, etc. in the form of a flat monthly fee. The non-commission revenues account for less than 5% of the total revenues and the site is exploring other opportunities to grow the non-commission revenues.

Web 3.0 Rating: Context: A, Content: A+, Community: C, Commerce: A, Personalization: A, Vertical Search: A; Overall Rating: A.


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