By Danny Kucharsky

Zillow Group will begin accepting Canadian home listings next year on its U.S. consumer real estate sites, including Zillow.com and Trulia.com.

The goal is “to get exposure for Canadian listings with the U.S. audience, more so than creating a Canadian experience for Canadian consumers,” says Errol Samuelson, the chief industry development officer for Zillow Group.



He says there have been several requests from American consumers seeking the same consumer experience for Canadian properties that is available for American properties. American interest in Canada primarily involves properties in major cities and in resort sites such as Whistler and the Okanagan area in B.C.

Americans are traditionally one of the top three foreign buyers of Canadian homes, Samuelson notes. “What we found is there’s a definite segment in the U.S. market that is interested in Canadian properties. We see this when someone types Toronto, Ontario in the search bar on Zillow for example.”

With a monthly consumer audience of 170 million people on its various sites, “we think there is real potential to drive more exposure for Canadian properties.”

Zillow Group has been interested in carrying Canadian properties for the last four or five years but only now has the bandwidth to do so, he says.

Samuelson, who is Canadian, is based in Vancouver where Zillow has been operating a software development office in Yaletown since 2014.

Zillow.com will offer its Zestimate feature in Canada – an often controversial computer algorithm that provides estimates of the current value of houses. Zestimate currently provides price estimates for 110 million properties in the U.S.

Zillow Group’s various software tools will be available to Canadian real estate agents and the company will accept advertising from brokers, mortgage companies and others in the real estate field.

As in the U.S., agents will be allowed to create online profiles and request reviews from clients. In the U.S., “agents have used reviews to generate a ton of business, a ton of, quite frankly, free business,” says Samuelson.

The plan is to start providing Canadian listings in the first quarter of 2018. There is no charge to carry house listings on the site, but Zillow Group sells advertising to buyers’ agents.

“As soon as I can get the content we’re going to start loading on the site,” says Samuelson. “It’s a question of how quickly we can reach agreements with various MLSes,” in Canada.

Zillow Group has been meeting with “a number of the big MLSes around the country,” seeking approval to have their listings appear on the company’s various sites. Zillow.com currently provides listings from more than 625 MLS feeds in the U.S. They are updated, on average, every five minutes.

“Our goal is to talk with all boards and get as many as possible to participate in the program,” he says. “Part of the plan is to not only go speak to the boards and the MLSes but also to meet up with the large franchisors, the large brokers and help them understand who we are and how they can leverage us to reach new marketing for their listings.”

Samuelson says he has seen excitement in Canada about some of the software products Zillow Group can provide agents to help them reach interested buyers.

These include a CRM (customer relationship management) database that helps agents stay in touch with clients and DotLoop, an electronic forms product that enables e-signatures.

The company has also recently launched a new 3D home tour app, Zillow Group Home Capture, that lets real estate agents use their iPhone to take panoramic photos of each room. It “essentially creates a Google Street View of homes. As a consumer, you can literally walk from room to room. It’s really cool.”

A Canadian version of the Zestimate algorithm is being developed that will provide features such as estimated price ranges for houses in Canada, best estimates (a single price), estimated values in one year and graphs showing how a property’s value has trended over time compared with local neighbourhoods and the city.

“Right now, in the U.S. the accuracy is pretty good,” Samuelson says. “The median error for Zestimate is 4.3 per cent, meaning half the time the price is within 4.3 per cent of what the property sells for.”

However, given that it is more difficult to obtain information on house transactions and assessments in Canada than in the U.S., “we don’t know yet what the accuracy is going to be in Canada. Will it be 4.3 per cent as it is in the United States on day one? I would suspect it probably won’t be.”

However, Samuelson notes preliminary testing of Zestimate was conducted in one Canadian market and the accuracy “was good enough I think that you can create something compelling for consumers.”

Launched 10 years ago, Zillow Group led the way in publishing real estate data online aimed to consumers. Aside from Zillow.com, the company runs the real estate sites Trulia.com (similar to Zillow but with more neighbourhood information on everything from schools to crime rates), Realestate.com (geared to first-time buyers and millennials), StreetEasy.com in New York City and rental sites HotPads.com and NakedApartments.com.

The Canadian venture will mark the first time Zillow Group will show non-U.S. listings on its sites.

“A sizable part of our population will be really intrigued to see what’s for sale in Canada,” Samuelson says. For example, in Atlantic Canada “you can buy beautiful vacation homes at what Americans would consider very reasonable prices,” he says.  Boston residents “who buy a vacation home in Maine probably don’t realize that they can buy twice the home in Nova Scotia.”

  • Rhonda Heaslip

    A big fat NO to Zillow. We have an excellent system here and we don’t need to invite Zillow in to mess it up. They can stay in the US and welcome to it.

  • I recently was at a board sponsored event and one of the presenters was Zillow. During the event he announced that would be starting in Canada in the new year. While he was speaking I went to Facebook where I belong to a ladies real estate group from the US and I asked what they thought of Zillow. Some okay comments, but the majority of comments were not happy with Zillow. The zestimate feature is inaccurate most times and agents are spending time explaining to their clients why there home is not worth what Zillow claims. They also felt that Zillow did nothing for them other than spending money needlessly. Most comments were to “stay away”. They are making money from our data.

  • Coach Kay

    I don’t post on REALTOR sites anymore and as such excuse the “handle” Coach as it was created to support the kids I coach in youth sports as a volunteer. (If you want to bypass the history skip to the bottom for why I took the time to post here today)

    At an SGM called to address my concerns over the DDF while a member of RAHB, a team of lawyers from CREA was called in to argue against my understanding of how property portals operate against YOUR businesses and the Public’s best interests. It has now been a few years since that meeting and every single warning I made to members at that meeting have come true. CREA’s legal team who suggested otherwise in an effort to support CREA and the DDF, has now been proven wrong time after time after time .

    While Bell Media has not joined CREA to access the DDF, Rogers did immediately as I warned and although it was forced to shut down because of non-compliance with REBBA ( I’ll bet you still have not heard that one), my warning was correct.
    Point2Homes as lawyers stated in that meeting in no way would act as I said they would, moved to the USA, began advertising Point2Homes to Canadians as an alternative and better site for consumers to use than realtor.ca . Point2Homes recently began issuing housing market intelligence to the Canadian press to support their portal over realtor.ca. Of course I did not forecast their move to the USA but competing against realtor.ca I did and contrary to the rebuttal of CREA lawyers that day, I have now been proven right. Of course the fact Point2Homes is causing 10s of thousands of registrants to be violation of their provincial trading acts (another topic debated and claimed to never going to happen) is ongoing daily and still not addressed because of the poor manner today’s REALTOR brand is functioning under in most provinces.
    Today through DDF monitoring I have lists of thousands of websites that are in outright violation of the public’s best interest and through their website’s design and setup are allowing data on every homeowner in Canada to be collect by parties outside our nation. Another point the team of lawyers said would never happen.
    I could go on and on but……call up the current president of RAHB if you want a recording of the meeting.

    Now Zillow and the “no that is not what will not happen” comment from that meeting of years ago.

    I can guarantee that REALTORS and the Public do not know how lucky Canada is that realtor.ca exists. While I chastize CREA for their incompetence in measuring housing markets and their misrepresentation of decades old stats that were created to generate sales commissions, as being real measures of a housing market, there is no question realtor.ca, as a Home for Sale Advertising platform, protects Canadian families every single day.

    Readers may be shocked to know that NO other country in the world has a realtor.ca like site where the owners of a nation’s homes can advertise their property for sale with a magnitude of oversight ( when enacted through holding REALTORS accountable to Canadian laws) that makes theft of personal data impossible at most and impractical at the least. Zillow on the other hand collects that data daily from American Homeowners and uses it to create revenue for their public shareholders.

    I have watched 3rd party tech companies attack Canadian homeowners through the DDF repeatedly. For $5000 you can become a Brokerage, gain unhindered access to Home Owners private information and do what you want with. Not only that you can set up brokerages in multiple provinces for a couple of bucks through licensing reciprocity and get more data through IDX feeds sent right to your Database building software. Maybe you believe the 10’s of 1000s of IDX/DDF sites out their are ALL innocent? Oh and that new 13 board mls system in ontario????

    RE/MAX and Century 21, the TWO brands were independent contractors can actually control their businesses ( Royal Lepage’s new sister company (june 2017) Du Proprio has rendered that brand foolish to build a business under in 2017 so I suspect that’s why that news was not released in Ontario (google it folks) ) have the power to stop this risk to consumers but remain silent in fear of their franchise fees falling, dropping shareholder value. That’s right folks your franchise systems now all work to generate shareholder value in the USA because that is where those brands shares are traded on the NYSE. Forget about “Above the Crowd” remax because in 2017 its the “more the merrier”.

    Honestly it now works to my own best interest that all this has happened and even Zillow whose Zestimates is the most ludicrous AVM created in North American history but used daily by consumers, works to my own best interests. At the same time I care about Canadians and I care about their homes and their families. So, once again I must say “CREA Stop the Insanity” (no I wont be relaunching the website).

    I understand the vast majority of today’s REALTORS are unskilled, inexperience and unqualified because they have never worked a housing correction. I understand that with FSBOs now licensing the REALTOR trademark and having attacked your business exactly as you were warned against (yet CREA said would never happen), is how you must compete. I understand you all really believe housing prices can go up forever without a major housing correction taking place because you have never been taught how the housing market functions. I understand Zillow sounds so rosy, so nice and those initial offers of FREE access once again will get the one listing brokerages to jump on board to save money.

    Brad below is correct Zillow’s stock value wipes all your franchise brands out. Heck, Refin has conned American investors to pay valuing a simple discount brokerage at $1.74 Billion on it’s sold out IPO stock value as of today.

    If CREA allows a single DDF feed from any member to head to Zillow your world will never be the same again and Canadians will lose the best home selling infrastructure in the world.

    So please understand that Canada is unique in the world when it comes to selling the family home because of the home selling infrastructure, in its totality, that exists in Canada today. Here are some facts:

    1) No other country in the world has 95% of all homes actively for sale at any moment posted on a single website. (check realtor.com and zillow.coms metrics of posting in the USA by comparison)
    2) Home Owners and their families personal data exposed openly when selling their home is protected better in Canada than anywhere else in the world.
    3) Home Buyers only need to search on one real estate site in Canada, something no other country can even remotely claim.
    4) There are 5 levels of oversight protecting the Canadian home seller that exist NO where else in the world today. When enacted by an informed and educated consumer that oversight holds all players accountable in living up to their legal obligation to protect sellers privacy.
    5) Realtor.ca is Canadian owned, data is stored in a PIPEDIA compliant manner in Canada and it serves only the purpose any property portal should serve, that is delivering property advertisements as created by the Listing Brokerage, allowing for a competitive playing field where the best of the best can over time rise to the top.

    Canada’s housing market is correcting and has been on that path now for 12 months. Broker Owners will be focusing on retaining desk fees, CREA on retaining members, OREA on retaining TREB, BCREA on RECBC compliance for members, AREA on a surprisingly reversed sales trend in Alberta (Calgary wake up) as of Sept. It is simply a fact of all real estate markets need to correct where mortgage loans are determined on market valuations created through a Seller Centric home trading infrastructure.

    Zillow will destroy you. Zillow does instant offers…..did they tell you that? Zillow will open brokerages. Zillow has billions to spend advertising to home buyers to steer them away from nice safe REALTOR.ca, remax.ca, royallepage.ca (etc) and certainly will render you own personal promotion website mute…..ow I forgot….Zillow will offer you one for free and then slowly force you to pay to maintain your own brand (just like Point2Homes deal with CREA for DDF support did).

    I really don’t care about you any longer. I really am disgusted where you have allowed the REALTOR brand to sink (mere postings). I am speechless about the universal ignorance that exists in how all housing markets have and will continue to function in Canada. All that said, I fear for Families in a world where “Big Data” is code for losing your privacy under 100,000 word USA website owner consent agreements no one employs a lawyer to read before signing.

    Canadian REALTORS have NO NEED under any business premise to expose their seller clients to the world with Zillow. It is time for Ethical Broker Owners and Master Franchisors to speak up. Boards need to stop pretending their economists know more than a REALTOR member of the board, who worked the last 30 years selling thousands of homes, and instead start protecting their members by protecting the consumer from uninformed consent.

    I will not post here again. My business hopes you all post to Zillow.

    • Chad McBain

      Very informative read and while I knew and agreed with most of what you said I still learned plenty today so thank you. I am curious I can’t seem to make the connection between RLP and Duproprio. what am I missing? Does BrookField own Yellpages…I am clearly missing something.

    • Chad McBain

      Hi again, were you meaning to reference Proprio Direct?

  • Justin

    I completely agree with Brad. I’ve been following the Zillow story in the US and I believe it is slowly backfiring on the realtors there. By advertising/taking YOUR listing and all it’s photos and info etc, and then charging YOU if you want your name to be advertised with it. Rumoured to have approximately 70% of its revenue from agent advertising. The site offers some fun and flashy things for consumers but nothing in the way of real service or representation that I can see. However once they have access to a boards data of listings and sales they have the agents painted in a corner to cough up the extra advertising dollars. Zillow was also running a trial ‘Instant Offers’ where they allow sellers to accepted offers from investors. This shows us Zillow has no issue inserting itself in the deal process for a fee in the future. Canada is unique with the way our boards protect our data. I’m all for adapting for what’s best for the consumer, but Zillow doesn’t offer anything in addition to a realtor other then some fun online house estimates and other apps, but in the end gains the consumer attention which the agent is now fighting directly against.

  • Please CDN, boards, franchises and CREA. Stop giving our data away for free. Us Realtors pound the pavement to win listings and then you give them away on us for free tor for peanuts to 3rd party software companies. Divid and conquer is how they did it in the USA where eventually most Realtors had to join Zillow when they really did not want to but had to just to stay competitive, as other short term thinkers did and they eventually became too powerful. We have something the USA does not, control over our data and a strong national portal in Realtor.ca. In the USA, Zillow wrested control from the Realtor. They take their hard earned data for free and eventually now take the majority of their advertising budgets away from marketing themselves individually via their own website or marketing materials to mostly just marketing themselves on Zillow. Paying ever increasing amounts to have their name show up next to the listing the fought so hard for. Zillow’s cap rate is greater than that of Realogy (Century 21, Sotheby’s, Coldwell Banker, Better Homes and Gardens) Remax and a few other brands combined. This is all based on Realtors, Boards and Franchises giving away their hard earned listing data. We don’t need to do this in Canada. If anything our industry should be reaping the value for our listing data, not giving to 3rd parties to capitalize on it. Take a look at the USA. Realtors fighting Zillow is the most consistent battle they have. We have great individual websites, corporate websites and a very good national portal. The consumer will find the listing and find you. Don’t support Zillow and their massive war fund designed to take over the real estate industry. We are different than the USA in Canada, lets keep it that way.

    • Frank Heitzer

      I completely agree. I’ve been following the rise of Zillow and the fall of the agents because of it. Our data is our data and giving it away will only cost us in the long run, especially once we have to pay a boat load of money, just to have our name next to our Listings.
      All Boards, MLSes, Franchisees and corporate HQs, don’t do it. We need Realtor.com to stay the #1 website, because only when we control the #1 website will we control our future.