Zillow in Canada

Does Zillow Operate in Canada?

The real estate website Zillow has been a dominant force in online listings in the United States. But does Zillow have Canadian listings? Can you get a Zestimate on a home in Calgary? Is Zillow planning a Canadian takeover?

Zillow in Canada

Although Zillow has a dominate footprint on the US real estate market online, Zillow has yet to make much headway into the Canadian real estate market. That may be about to change with Zillow’s recent announcement that they will be displaying homes for sale in Canada.

Error Samulelson was quoted as saying:

“It’s an exciting time at Zillow and we’re thrilled to start expanding our listings coverage outside the US and provide the millions of home shoppers who use Zillow every day an easy way to see Canadian homes for sale.”

How Does Zillow Get Real Estate Listings?

The battle for real estate listing data has been going on for a long time. As a general rule, local MLS is the gold standard for real estate listings. Most real estate brokers in Calgary participate in the the local MLS, which lets them display each others listings through an IDX data agreement.

Zillow, on the other hand, is NOT a licensed real estate broker and currently does not have access to the MLS’s listing database of active and sold properties. In Calgary, Zillow has to rely on specific real estate brokers to send their listings to Zillow. This means that unlike websites such as Calgary House Finder, Zillow will only have a tiny percentage of the active properties in Calgary and other areas of Canada.

Who Does Display All the Listings?

Since most Canadian real estate brokers utilize the local Realtor boards and Multiple Listing Services, if you want to see ALL of the Southeast homes for sale or any other community , you will have to visit a licensed real estate broker’s website.

The Zestimate in Canada

One of Zillow’s most popular features is their Zestimate. Although the general public seems to like using the Zestimate, most real estate agents and brokers recognize that Zillow’s home valuation tools is woefully inaccurate in most areas. As a matter of fact, even by Zillow’s own statistics, their Zestimate is more than 10% off of the final sales price by more than 20% of the time in many US markets!  Those are HUGE variants when you look at home valuations and would be considered to be more of a “guess” by most licensed appraisers.

What Has Made Zillow So Successful?

When you look at the fact that Zillow does not have all of the active or sold real estate listings in most areas, coupled with the inaccuracies of their Zestimate, it’s easy to ask “why do people go to Zillow then?”.

The answer is three pronged: marketing. Acquisitions and the fact most home buyers are not aware of their inadiquisizes. Zillow, as a publicly traded company with deep pockets. Zillow has successfully purchased their largest US rival Trulia. As a matter of fact, Zillow has purchased over 10 major real estate technology companies in the past 5 years. 

But that still does not explain why the general public looks to Zillow for online real estate. We will answer that with an analogy. If you go to Ford.com you do not expect to see Chevrolets on their website. The general public looks at real estate broker’s websites in much the same way.

With most of Canadians only purchasing a home every decade or so, they simply assume that to see “all of the homes for sale” they need to go to a 3rd party website such as Zillow. As we have mentioned previously, that could not be further from the truth.

What is to Come from Zillow in Canada?

We will have to just wait and see. We can tell you now, that they will not have the lion's share of the real estate listings, so there is little reason for the educated home buyer to visit Zillow if they are looking for homes online.

One thing is guaranteed... that with Zillow’s official move into Canada, they will be spending a TON of money on advertising to try and inform the public that they are the online destination for real estate in Canada.

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