Are you thinking of selling or finding a home with the help of Zillow or Redfin?
If you are, you will sooner or later come across one of the two platforms and you might ask yourself for which one you should go for and which one is better – Zillow or Redfin?
If you would like to sell on these platforms, Zillow wins against Redfin.
Zillow’s fee structure is more transparent, home-value estimates come closer to accuracy, and it gets more monthly visitors.
For buyers, both platforms offer more or less the same functionality.
Would you like to know how I came to this conclusion?
You will learn more about the details if you read the rest of this article.
I will analyze both platforms from the perspective of a home seller and also a real estate professional that would like to use both property platforms for marketing purposes.
What Do Zillow and Redfin Offer
Let’s take a closer look at what both property marketplaces are, and which benefits and features they offer.
How Does Redfin Work
As a home seller, you can use Redfin to find the right agent registered with Redfin to help you sell your property or you can also sell independently without an agent (for sale by owner).
According to Redfin, homes listed on this platform sell for $2800 more and are slightly more likely (6%) to close within 90 days than similar homes listed on other brokerages.
As a real estate agent, you can use the platform to find home buyers.
Redfin also helps with different marketing methods to promote the listed properties.
As stated by Redfin, it’s the most-visited real estate brokerage website in the U.S., so your property will be seen by many market participants.
I checked the website traffic and, according to Similarweb, it currently receives 58.5 million website visitors per month. We will later compare that data to the one of Zillow.
They also provide professional photos and a 3D Walkthroughs for free and they do digital marketing for you on Facebook and Google.
You can read in this article of mine how important virtual property tours are.
Additionally, Email Marketing Campaigns are run in a way that targets local real estate agents and buyers who are looking for properties in your area and as of now, they also offer the option for doing house tours via video chat.
Redfin can also refer you to local professionals, such as stagers that can help you prepare your property for sale.
Another feature is the home-value estimation calculator which you can find here.
If you want to use Redfin as a realtor, you can become a partner or directly a Redfin realtor.
In this case, the platform can draw your listing data from the MLS you are registered with.
But don’t think of earning the commission you might have been used to earning.
Redfin listing agents get a 1% commission and buyer agents a 3% commission which for the seller makes it a total commission of 4%.
A traditional brokerage usually charges a 6% commission (3% buyer agent, 3% seller agent).
If as a seller you want to go down the sale by owner route, you will still pay a 1.5% listing fee to Redfin should you sell with their help.
Theoretically, you could even pay only a 1% listing fee, but only if you meet the following condition, described in Redfin’s disclaimer:
“Sell for a 1% listing fee only if you also buy with Redfin within 365 days of closing on your Redfin listing. If you sell first, we will initially charge a 1.5% listing fee and then send you a check for the 0.5% difference after you buy your next home with Redfin.”
At the beginning of my research of Redfin, I first expected that the fee structure would be a bit easier to understand.
But now, after digging a bit deeper, I must say, that it’s kind of a labyrinth with many ‘ifs’, ‘whens’ and variable conditions.
I missed a bit the transparent, simple and clear information there.
Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for sellers and also real estate professionals to get the whole picture of the platform to make a sound decision.
It reminds me a bit of Ryanair (the economic airline in the U.K.), where you are first happy to find a super cheap flight, but then, in order to actually get on the plane after you bought the ticket, you will have to pay for many extras and in the end, you end up only slightly below the prices of a flight with a regular airline.
How Does Zillow Work
Zillow provides a large listing base for home renting, buying, leasing, inquiring and renovating.
As of May 2020, they had 259.87 million average monthly visitors according to Similarweb.
Individual sellers can promote their properties on the platform and buyers can search properties for free.
Now comes one of the main differences compared to Redfin.
The focus of Zillow’s business model is rather selling advertising to real estate pros, such as real estate agencies, brokers and realtors looking to sell or landlords looking for tenants.
These features can be used via the Premier Agent and Broker program.
The advertising prices depend greatly on the market demand, on local areas and competition.
You can decide if you want to pay per lead or per 1000 impressions (per 1000 ad views, CPM). The cost can reach over $100 per 1000 impressions (source).
As a property manager in need of more tenants, you pay per click, per lease, or also per lead. If you decide to pay per lead, the cost is between $20 and $60.
A further advertisement option is display advertising, where you can buy ad space on their website.
This is rather addressed to real estate related businesses, such as mortgage brokers or lenders.
Why are Zillow and Redfin so Different?
So, from what I’ve written so far above you may already see the difference between the two.
While Redfin still acts mainly as a broker with a not so transparent and easily understandable fee and commission structure, Zillow is rather a real estate advertising platform that doesn’t act as a middle man.
They have completely different business models, although as someone looking for a property and market information, such as property value estimates, both can do this just fine and not big difference can be noticed.
So, from a buyer’s perspective still being in the property search and research phase, you won’t see many differences.
The differences will become clear quite soon from the seller’s or real estate professional’s perspective when it comes to the fees and how they charge for their real estate marketing service.
So, Which One is Better – Zillow or Redfin?
We can analyze Zillow and Redfin for being better under different categories.
It depends on what your goal is for using one of them and what ‘better’ means to you.
Since I don’t know exactly what kind of better you are looking for, I analyzed and compared both from the perspective of a home buyer, seller and real estate professional.
Which One is Better from the Perspective of a Home Buyer?
So, in terms of inventory size, there is not much of a difference between the two from a buyer’s perspective.
Although in some local areas, there are likely much bigger differences. But let’s use the overall size of the inventory.
Also, when it comes to functionality, both offer a good property search with a map view where you can zoom in and out and click to get further listing details displayed.
So, from the buyer’s perspective, I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other.
Which One Is Better From the Perspective of Sellers and Real Estate Professionals?
Although not easy to find either, I like Zillow’s fee structure better than that of Redfin – it’s more transparent and you can’t fall that easily in fine print pitfalls.
That’s the first plus for Zillow.
Next, with Zillow, you can get slightly better home-value estimates than with Redfin.
It is more flexible and allows you to modify the system and teach it about your property features, such as bedrooms additions, more space (square footage), added bathrooms, parking expansions, or any remodeling.
That’s not possible with Redfin, since it doesn’t allow these modifications.
Their data to estimate home value is drawn from county tax assessors via companies like DataQuick and CoreLogic.
So, this allows Zillow to be closer to the accurate price than Redfin and means another plus for Zillow and another minus for Redfin.
A plus for Redfin is the integration of 3D walkthroughs and house tours via video chat (especially helpful during times, when people don’t want to do in-person meetings or property tours).
This is something that Zillow doesn’t integrate directly on its platform, but could be offered independently by the respective sellers or realtors promoting there.
This means a plus for Redfin and a minus for Zillow.
Another comparable metric is the website traffic.
Zillow receives 259.87 million monthly visitors, while Redfin gets 58.5 million.
Since both have more or less the same amount of listing inventory, we can assume that as a seller or real estate professional you will get on average more visitors per property listed with Zillow than with Redfin, which means potentially more buyer leads.
So, that’s another plus for Zillow and another minus for Redfin.
|Transparent Fee Structure||-||+|
|Home Value Estimates||-||+|
|3D Walkthroughs and House Tours Via Video Chat||+||-|
After analyzing both platforms under the above mentioned categories, we can conclude that Zillow wins over Redfin from the perspective of a seller or a real estate professional.
For buyers, there is not a lot of difference between the two.