Zillow revenue doubled to $2.7B on iBuying bet – but losses ballooned

Company lost $305.4M, up from $119.8M in 2018

TRD NATIONAL /
Feb.February 19, 2020 02:08 PM
Zillow CEO Rich Barton (Credit: iStock, Getty Images)
Zillow CEO Rich Barton (Credit: iStock, Getty Images)

UPDATED, Feb. 19, 2020, 6:04 p.m.: After betting heavily on iBuying, Zillow Group’s revenue more than doubled in 2019 to $2.7 billion, the company said Wednesday.

Just 20 months after buying its first home, the Seattle-based listings giant said revenue from its Homes segment topped $1.365 billion in 2019, compared to just $52.4 million in 2018.

During an earnings call on Wednesday, Zillow co-founder and CEO Rich Barton called 2019 “tumultuously remarkable” as the company chased what he’s previously called a moonshot bet on iBuying.

Overall, Zillow lost $305.4 million last year amid its investment in homes, up from $119.9 million last year.

During the fourth quarter, Zillow reported revenue of $943.9 million and a $101.2 million loss.

Zillow Homes, as the company’s iBuying program is called, accounted for $603.2 million of revenue, up 57 percent from the third quarter.

During the fourth quarter, Zillow said it purchased 1,787 homes and sold 1,902 homes. It has 2,707 homes in its inventory.

Premier Agent, Zillow’s lucrative agent advertising feature, pulled in $233.5 million in fourth-quarter revenue, up 6 percent year over year.

During the earnings call, Barton admitted that 2019 was “one of the most challenging” of his career as Zillow worked to turn a page in its business. Previously, he has said not focusing on iBuying would be an “existential threat.”

During the fourth quarter, Zillow said it purchased 1,787 homes and sold 1,902 homes. It has 2,707 homes in its inventory. “It’s still early days,” Barton said, “but we’re learning as we grow” and consumer demand is strong. He referred to Zillow Offers as a “hub” from which the company can offer additional services, including title and mortgage.

Earlier this year, Zillow obtained a broker license in New York amid a push to get licensed throughout the country.

“We ended 2019 in a much stronger position than we started,” Barton wrote in a shareholder letter. “The past year has been transformational for our company as we began a multi-year journey to replatform real estate in favor of our customers.”

Update: This story has been updated to include details from Zillow’s earnings call.

Write to E.B. Solomont at [email protected]


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