Zillow moves into the next most logical market -- home improvement

By Erin Griffith , written on February 5, 2013

From The News Desk

Real estate site Zillow helps people rent homes. It also helps people find homes to buy. And when they've found a home to buy, Zillow helps them find financing. If three quarters of those new homeowners renovate their new digs, it stands to reason that Zillow might be able help them with that too. Thus, Zillow Digs.

Today the publicly traded real estate data site launched the new iPad and Web app that acts a bit like Pinterest, but with price tags. The app is populated with 20,000 images of interiors, sortable by material (for example, granite countertop), price, and style.

Similar to the way Zillow provides valuation data for homes and properties, Zillow Digs uses an algorithm to determine the price of home renovations in bathrooms and kitchens. The site's estimates take things like size, materials, finish, materials, and regional labor into account and break them down in specific charts so it's not just a large, arbitrary number.

It's social -- images can be saved onto Pinterest-like boards, shared and commented on. And it's mobile -- the app is clearly designed for iPad browsing. Zillow's overall business now has more homes viewed on mobile than on desktop.

Similar to Houzz, a home renovation marketplace which just raised a $35 million round of funding from New Enterprise Associates and GGV Capital, Zillow Digs will connect home renovators with professionals that can help them. Zillow won't charge contractors to list their services on the site, but will eventually allow them to purchase promotional packages that enhance their listings, similar to what Zillow does with real estate agents.

There is no rush to monetize immediately, though -- Zillow's mortgage marketplace made no money for years before it became a significant contributor to Zillow's revenue, CEO Spencer Rascoff says. The profitable company's revenue hit $82 million in the first three quarters of fiscal 2012, the majority of which comes from real estate agent subscriptions. A quarter of Zillow's revenue comes from display ads.

Zillow has slowly taken over every stage of our interactions with homes. It started with real estate, which remains the company's bread and butter. It since expanded to home financing, rentals, and home improvement. The company is also an acquisition machine, snapping up six smaller startups in the last two years. It's often a situation where the startup is providing some sort of SaaS software to real estate agent, but the startups often struggled to sell to the fragmented market of real estate brokers. So Zillow simply makes their SaaS software free and rolls it into its main offering.

Zillow Digs Estimates Zillow Digs Home Page