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Zillow Digs: Pinterest + Houzz + Tumblr for home improvement

Zillow Digs is a visually appealing home improvement hub launching today, and while competitors focus on quality of data, Zillow makes a bold move to add new users to their ecosystem which could pay off.

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Zillow Digs brings Zestimates to home improvement

Zillow Digs has officially launched, taking on home improvement in a way that looks like what we imagine Pinterest, Houzz, and Tumblr would make if they got together and had a baby. The launch focuses on visual inspiration and a breakdown of the real cost of remodeling projects based on where they live, giving consumers an instant reality check (and not necessarily in a bad way). While viewable on the web, the iPad app is pretty sweet.

The company says, “Couch surfing and shopping for home improvement is a very mobile experience, and Digs is the first marketplace Zillow developed on mobile before the desktop, reflecting the company’s increasing mobile utilization.”

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Zillow Digs’ features

Zillow Digs features tens of thousands of photos that users can peruse, and when signed in, they can create, save, and share Boards of ideas they love. Users can comment on photos or even follow people with similar interests, and even connect users with local home improvement professionals who create a free profile on the site (with contact info, photos of their work, site links, etc.). The timing couldn’t be better, as home remodeling recently hit a seven year high.

“Tens of millions of home buyers shop for homes on Zillow each month, and home improvement is a natural next step for us in consumer empowerment and transparency of information to help people make smarter decisions,” said Spencer Rascoff, CEO at Zillow. “I’m also excited to introduce a revolutionary new tool for consumers: Digs Estimates. This first-of-its-kind remodeling cost estimate algorithm was created by Zillow’s industry-leading team of economists and data analysts who produce extensive housing data and research.”

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Why Zillow Digs is an interesting move

For Zillow, it’s not only a smart move because it adds more places to advertise and improve revenue, but with each user that signs up, they’re entered into the Zillow ecosystem, and through use of Zillow Digs as branding, they’ll also be in the email database, so we assume they’ll get occasional emails from Zillow, so where will those users remember to go when it’s time to search for real estate? You got it.

Although the move is a very smart one, and could put Zillow ahead, especially in traffic, they are the only real estate search company that hasn’t weighed in this month about data accuracy as Realtor.com and Trulia make competitive claims about the quality of their core offering – real estate listings.

Will Zillow weigh in, make any data changes to keep up, or will the continue to expand in more ways similar to Zillow Digs to get new eyeballs? Data or eyeballs?

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Drew Meyers

    February 5, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Brilliant strategic move. And product offering.

  2. Jack Cassedy

    February 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

    I agree. Who doesn’t love Houzz? Who doesn’t love Pinterest? I wonder if they will run into some of the same legal issues as Pinterest regarding image copyrights.

  3. Robert Drummer

    February 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    For anyone wondering why Zillow needed an “irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide license to (a) use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display….your Submission(s)…. (ad infinitum), now you know.

    They have monetized the images from REALTOR® listings. You (or your broker or your MLS) signed away the rights, copyrights, etc. when you gave them the listing. You can’t blame them for creating this tool. They make money, you get attribution. Well, no, you don’t. You get nothing. It would’ve been nice if they included a link back to the broker/agent/MLS that supplied the photo, but no.

    Will the professional photographers who took the picture have an issue with their images on Digs? I hope not, ’cause if they do, they’ll be looking at you for a licensing fee or worse, a copyright claim.

    This is a perfect example of what an MLS could’ve done, or a group of MLSs (CMLS) but everyone’s been convinced that the data genie can’t be put back into the bottle.

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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