Zillow to close its home-flipping division, lay off 25% of staff
LOS ANGELES — Zillow Group said it will stop buying and selling homes, citing the "unpredictability" of forecasting housing prices.
The Seattle-based real estate information company said winding down its Zillow Offers homebuying and selling unit will take several quarters and will result in about a 25% reduction in the company’s workforce, which is now at about 5,300.
The announcement comes about two weeks after Zillow said it would pause buying homes through the end of 2021, citing a backlog in renovations and other operations due to labor and supply constraints. The idea was to temporarily stop buying homes and focus on selling those it had already purchased.
Zillow bought homes across the U.S. in areas including Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami and Phoenix. Its iBuying division did not buy homes in New York, according to its website.
After its earlier announcement, the company decided to shutter its home-flipping business altogether. "We’ve determined the unpredictability in forecasting home prices far exceeds what we anticipated and continuing to scale Zillow Offers would result in too much earnings and balance-sheet volatility," CEO Rich Barton said in a press release Tuesday.
The company also disclosed it took a write-down of about $340 million because it bought homes during the third quarter at prices that exceed Zillow's estimates for what those properties will fetch in the future.
Zillow Offers is among a group of so-called "iBuyers," which includes Redfin and Opendoor. These companies buy homes, typically from sellers who want to sell their home quickly, and then put the homes back on the market.
These companies have been competing with regular homebuyers as the housing market superheated over the past year amid a shortage of properties on the market. The home-flipping business has helped juice Zillow's revenue this year. For the nine months ended in September, Zillow Offers' revenue increased 88% to $2.65 billion versus the same period of 2020.
Zillow said it expects to book an additional $240 million to $265 million in losses in the fourth quarter primarily on home transactions expected it close this quarter.
— with Jonathan LaMantia