Errol Samuelson says Zillow is fixing the ‘boring, but impactful’ issues in a transaction

Zillow hopes to lessen the friction of the showing and transaction process of finding a home

Today’s RealTrending features an exclusive interview with Errol Samuelson, Chief Industry Development Officer for Zillow Group. A longtime leader at Zillow, Errol is responsible for the company’s real estate industry strategy and business-to-business product development. Errol talks to RealTrends about the demise of Zillow Offers, and how the firm plans to develop a “housing super app.”

Zillow reached out to RealTrends and pointed out that a “super-app” has a very specific definition as one app that offers multiple services, solutions, and providers on one platform. Tied to its mortgage arm, the “super app” will also likely incorporate the recently purchased ShowingTime product.

Here is a small preview of today’s interview with Errol. The transcript below has been lightly edited for length and clarity:

Tracey Velt: Zillow’s been a stalwart in the industry as far as advertising, marketing, home search and that, and I know that Zillow CEO, Rich Barton had said that they’re pivoting from a media business to a transactional one. Talk to me about that pivot and what that means.

Errol Samuelson: If you look at early Zillow, a lot of what it was about was what we call turning on the lights. Consumers consistently say they want to work with a real estate agent, they need professional advice, but they also want to come into the transaction feeling informed. Very early on, we worked at the problem of: Is there a way to help a seller understand what their house might be worth? Not down to the last dollar, but give them a ballpark estimate of what their house might be worth. Putting listings online, putting agent reviews online, basically providing the information that allows a buyer or seller to come to the transaction feeling informed.

And that was a great foundation for the business and it’s still a key part of our business today. Now our focus is also on once that consumer has found a home, which is potentially right for them, how do you solve the other challenges or friction in the real estate transaction?

It’s funny, internally we talk a little bit about the fact that sometimes the most impactful problems in real estate seem really boring. If you were going to recruit an engineer and say, “Hey, come work on a real estate problem,” they would be really excited if you said, “We’re going to build a self-driving car for agents to tour homes.”

If you said to them, “Listen, we’re going to try and solve the touring problem” — which is that about a quarter of buyers who want to get in to see a house end up not getting in — that may not sound as interesting, and yet if you could solve that problem, that’s really impactful for real estate.

RealTrending features the brightest minds in real estate. Twice a month, brokerage leaders, top agents, team leaders, and industry experts share their success secrets, trends, and lessons learned navigating this ever-changing industry. Hosted by Tracey Velt and produced by Elissa Branch.