What is Zillow? It’s a Seattle real estate startup headed by Expedia creator Rich Barton that will be consumer and Internet focused. Barton last week said, “It’s going to be provocative, but we’re not going to be an agent.”

Aside from those tidbits, no one knows exactly what Zillow will be when it launches this year. Company officials have been tight-lipped about the business model and everyone in the industry is intrigued to find out.

That’s why Inman News is announcing a “What is Zillow?” contest. The exact winning entry will win two free passes to Real Estate Connect SF, July 26-28. Here are the rules: in one paragraph describe exactly what tools, information and business model Zillow will deploy. You must identify yourself. To enter, simply use the comments feature on the Inman News Blog. The judges will be the Inman News editorial team.

Here are the serious and fun Inman News team guesses:

1. Knock-off of Trulia;

2. Knock-off of PropertyShark;

3. A virtual real estate game with Brad Inman as the villain;

4. An online real estate dating service;

5. A national MLS.

Here is a sampling of Inman News reader guesses so far:

Andy Denton, vice president of Realty.com, says, “I think this is an easy one. 1) It surely appears that they are going to operate as real estate counselors. They will provide closing assistance for FSBOs who don’t feel confident in negotiating contracts, disclosures, etc. And for agents, they will provide virtual assistance (e-brokerage model type) to help coordinate the closing. 2) I see it as a rival to ForSaleByOwner.com more than anything. It will help fill the gap between the nervous FSBO and the high prices of 6 percent commission of full service real estate. 3) Nationwide, searchable MLS will just be a byproduct to their services.”

Another reader guesses that, “Zillow will most likely be some sort of combination between NY Times property search, craigslist model of using brokers as target customers to post content, and eBay system of feedback and self governance for users to review buildings, brokerages, listings and agents.”

James Haft, director of The US Condo Exchange, says Zillow will be an “aggregator of listings and a bidding site for the leads generated – Google for the real estate market.”

To add your comments, go to the Inman News Blog entry, “What is Zillow?” and click on the comments feature. Add your comments along with your name.

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What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to opinion@inman.com.

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