Are you thinking of selling or finding a home with the help of Zillow or Redfin?

If you are, you will soon come across one of the two platforms, and you might ask yourself which one you should go for and which is better – Zillow or Redfin.

If you want 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?

As a home seller, you can use Redfin to find the right agent to help 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.

They are slightly more likely (6%) to close within 90 days than similar homes listed on other brokerages.

You can also use the platform to find home buyers as a real estate agent.

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 many market participants will see your property. 

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 3D Walkthroughs for free, and they do digital marketing for you on Facebook and Google. 

You can read in this article how vital 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.

They also offer the option of doing house tours via video chat.

Redfin can also refer you to local professionals, such as stagers, to help 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.

Redfin listing agents get a 1% commission and buyer agents a 3% commission which for the seller makes it a total commission of 4%.

When Redfin addresses the sellers in their marketing communication, they mention that the 3% buyer agent commission isn’t included in their fee structure, as you can read on this page and this one.

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 on Redfin, I expected the fee structure to be 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 some 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 economical airline in the U.K.) You are first happy to find a super cheap flight.

But then, to get on the plane after you buy the ticket, you will have to pay for many extras.

In the end, you end up slightly below the prices of a flight with a regular airline.


How Does Zillow Work?

Zillow provides an extensive 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 for properties for free.

Now comes one of the main differences compared to Redfin.

Zillow’s business model focuses on 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 significantly on the market demand, 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 needing more tenants, you pay per click, per lease, or per lead. If you decide to pay per lead, the cost is between $20 and $60.

A further option is display advertising, where you can buy ad space on their website.

This is rather addressed to real estate-related businesses like mortgage brokers or lenders. 


Why are Zillow and Redfin so Different?

So, from what I’ve written above, you may already see the difference between the two.

While Redfin still acts mainly as a broker with a partially complicated fee and commission structure, Zillow is a real estate advertising platform that doesn’t work as a middleman.

They have entirely different business models.

However, as someone looking for property and market information, such as property value estimates, both can do this just fine, and no big difference can be noticed. 

So, from a buyer’s perspective, you won’t see many differences while still in the property search and research phase.

The differences will become clear from the seller’s or real estate professional’s perspective regarding the fees and how they charge for their real estate marketing service.


Which One Is Better From the Perspective of Sellers and Real Estate Professionals?

Although not easy to find, I like Zillow’s fee structure better than Redfin’s –it’s simpler and has less fine print

That’s the first plus for Zillow.

Next, you can get slightly better home-value estimates with Zillow than with Redfin. 

It is more flexible and allows you to modify the system and teach it about your property features, such as bedroom 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 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 website traffic. 

Zillow receives 259.87 million monthly visitors, while Redfin gets 58.5 million. 

Both have more or less the same amount of listing inventory.

So, we can assume that as a seller or real estate professional, you will get more visitors per property listed with Zillow than with Redfin.

This 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+-
Website Traffic-+

After analyzing both platforms under the categories mentioned above, 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.

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Tobias Schnellbacher