Zillow is getting a broker’s license in Arizona, but it has no plans to begin hiring real estate agents, and it will continue to rely on other brokerages to represent it as it wades further into homebuying and selling transactions, according to Errol Samuelson, the chief industry development officer at Zillow Group.
Samuelson made the comments in an interview with Inman on Monday, regarding Zillow’s just-announced acquisition of Mortgage Lenders of America, a mortgage lender that will help Zillow expand beyond its initial informational and home search purposes and provide home searchers with more services to convert them into homebuyers, directly on Zillow’s popular namesake website.
The Arizona Department of Real Estate (ADRE) contacted Zillow in April 2018 when it first launched Zillow Offers, the company’s direct-to-consumer homebuying and selling platform, in the state. The ADRE said that Zillow needed to be licensed as a broker in the state to operate the program, according to Samuelson. The agency administers broker’s licenses for two-year-periods.
“We came back to them and explained — and they understand — that we are not the broker of record when we do these deals,” Samuelson said. “We use local third-party brokerages to represent us when we buy, we use local third-party brokerages when we sell.”
Despite the explanation, ADRE said it felt it was necessary for Zillow to get the license, so the Seattle-based company complied, Samuelson said.
“It’s not going to change anything about the way we operate the Zillow Offers program,” Samuelson said. “We’re still going to keep using local agents and brokers representing us as the brokers of record. We’re still going to use our representatives to list our properties.”
“We’re not going to have Zillow employees listing properties, we’re not going to have Zillow employees representing buyers and sellers,” Samuelson added. “This is strictly about getting paperwork in place.”
Zillow has actually held broker’s licenses in the past, Samuelson confirmed. When it acquired Trulia and RealEstate.com, those acquisitions came with licenses, and when the company first started, it had some licenses. Over the years, Zillow let those lapse. The company is licensed as a brokerage in Texas and perhaps other states, Zillow spokesperson Kate Downen told Inman via emai. Inman has asked where else the Zillow is licensed as a brokerage and why the company is licensed in Texas and will update this story when we hear back.
“Zillow has had broker’s licenses off and on over the course of 11 years and it hasn’t really changed our perspective in that — we don’t have any plans to become a brokerage in the sense of representing buyers, representing sellers, having agents that list,” Samuelson said.
“As we expand Zillow Offers expands, if Zillow needs to gets licensed in other states, it will comply on a case-by-case basis,” he added.
Zillow just sent the ADRE its letter letting the state agency know the company is complying today and Zillow is not sure how long the licensing process will take, Downen said.
Asked what exactly Zillow Offers is doing that Arizona says requires Zillow to get a real estate license and what policy or law the state agency cited that compelled Zillow to become licensed, Zillow declined to comment.
“The laws about this are really broad. They’ve asked that we get a license, and we’re complying,” Downen said.
Inman has reached out to the ADRE and will update this story when we hear back.
Inman Deputy Editor Andrea V. Brambila contributed additional reporting to this story.