Zillow announced today that they will be phasing out operations of it’s standalone product Zillow Rental Pro also known as RentJuice. They will now focus on supporting landlords and property managers.
An email statement from Zillow:
“It has been an amazing six years since we first embarked on the mission to modernize and simplify the processes of running a rentals business. While we accomplished much and gained a passionate and dedicated set of users, we have decided to refocus our engineering team on products that support landlords and property managers.
Consequently, we are phasing out the standalone Zillow Rental Pro product, formerly known as RentJuice. Until we fully discontinue Zillow Rental Pro on May 1, 2015, the service will be free. Note that we will continue to charge you for any tenant screening transactions, such as credit reports and background checks.”
You may remember that Zillow purchased RentJuice for $40 million dollars in 2012. This was part of Zillow’s strategy to get into the rental business by supplying landlords and brokers updated listings and streamlining broker/client interactions aka leads. Though, the purchase was great for RentJuice’s initial investors, the outcome was a far less better product.
As the above email suggests, they will be shutting down access to it’s listings. So if you’re using listings from Zillow to feed and/or update your website either directly or via plugin/widget, you will no longer to do so come the deadline.
There was one benefit of the acquisition, Zillow decided to make the RentJuice platform free by providing an internal listings platform to independent brokers and brokerages. This was a great tool to use if you started a brokerage or just wanted an additional source of listings. Of course if you wanted to use the platform to syndicate listings then there was a fee but apparently not many used the service enough to justify keeping it.
The data accuracy of it’s listing weren’t the best and their support staff didn’t quite understand the NYC market in general. You could see open listings that you may or may not have had access to including landlord accounts that didn’t necessarily use the Zillow service. In one instance, I asked a landlord when they started using the Zillow service, they promptly replied they didn’t use any service to post their listings. As I went along, I discovered many landlords had no idea their listings were on the Zillow platform. I contacted Zillow and discussed this with an account rep which she replied “It’s possible that they are sending us listing sheets and we add them on their behalf.” which really meant they have no actual permission to advertise the listings and were just receiving email blasts.
Becoming a partner with landlords and management companies also had some pitfalls, while Zillow made it very easy to connect to landlords and management companies listings by easily clicking a button and waiting an approval, most of the time the lists were outdated or in some cases completely wrong. In this case it was hard to discern who was at fault for providing such inaccurate information.
All in all, the listings were a nice point of reference and while some data was inconsistent the price was right and also a good starting point for upstart brokerages to begin with. Needless to say that this will be a boon for companies such as Nestio, OLR, and ACME listings which provide listing databases to brokers. But the challenge may be, what will Zillow be offering to those landlord and management companies in the future?