Technology

Pete Flint: The role of the real estate agent will change ‘surprisingly little’ in next 5 years

A portal founder talks 'Grapes of Wrath' and other inspiration

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Pete Flint sits on the Zillow Group Board of Directors as the Trulia founder. He answered some questions for Inman about life at Trulia before the merger with Zillow to form Zillow Group.

Describe what you do in one sentence: I use technology to solve big, meaningful problems with teams of talented people

What’s your favorite activity outside of work and why?

Going on an exotic vacation with my family. I love exploring and seeing new things and learning about different cultures.

What’s your favorite classic piece of literature and why?

“The Grapes of Wrath,” by John Steinbeck – Classic American resilience and entrepreneurship.

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Are you the first entrepreneur in your family?

My grandparents were quite entrepreneurial, but for my immediate family, yes.

Why’d you decide to join (start) your company?

Because I was trying to find somewhere to live after moving to the U.S. and thought all the real estate websites back then did a pretty bad job in giving consumers what they wanted.

Describe a time when you felt particularly insecure about the future of your company. How did you bounce back?

Trying to figure out how we would pay everyone in the 2008-2009 timeframe. Selling real estate marketing was tough, and we didn’t have good products back then for agents and brokers. We bounced back by building an entire product offering for agents and brokers while attracting tens of millions more home buyers and sellers to Trulia.

What would you describe as your company’s biggest victory since you joined it?

Going public in 2012 on the New York Stock Exchange.

What’s been the biggest obstacle your business has encountered, and how have you dealt with it?

As you get bigger, things get more complex, and so managing a large company takes a lot of work and smarts. I’ve been fortunate to have hired some incredible people.

What puzzles you most about the industry?

Lack of universal focus on the consumer.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about building a business?

Culture helps you navigate the toughest of situations.

What’s the most overrated real estate technology?

QR codes.

How will the role of the real estate agent change over the next five years?

Surprisingly little, just like it has over the previous five years.

What motivates you more: power or money?

Neither.

What is your biggest professional fear?

Not being able to attract and retain great talent.

What is your biggest personal fear?

My own and my family’s health.

Who do you respect most in the industry?

Richard Smith at Realogy.

Are you a real estate industry leader interested in participating in our profile series? Email amber@inman.com.