Zillow CEO Rich Barton cited safety concerns and said the company plans to fully resume iBuying once health concerns pass.

Zillow is the latest iBuyer to temporarily pause its homebuying amid the growing concerns of COVID-19 (coronavirus). The move follows on the heels of both Opendoor and Redfin and at a time when some of the country’s biggest states are suspending all in-person real estate activity.

Rich Barton | Photo credit: Zillow Group

“Our top priority is ensuring the safety and health of our employees, customers and partners,” Zillow CEO Rich Barton said, in a statement. “Given the concerns for public safety and rapid developments by governments that restrict local real estate activities, we determined it was prudent to pause our home buying to preserve our capital.”

“We plan to restore Zillow Offers full operations once health concerns pass and local health orders are lifted,” Barton added. “In the meantime, we are working to support our customers and partners in these uncertain times when home has never been more important.”

Last week, both Redfin and Opendoor, two of Zillow’s top competitors in the iBuying space, announced each would stop buying houses temporarily, but for different reasons. Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman cited the current difficulty of pricing homes while a spokesperson for Opendoor cited safety concerns. 

The move comes after a number of states, including New York, California, Ohio, Illinois, Louisiana and Nevada, have issued “shelter-in-place” orders, which require residents to stay home for non-essential reasons. That includes the suspension of in-person real estate activities like home showings, inspections and open houses.

Zillow had already halted open houses for its Zillow-owned properties, but the company offers 3D virtual tours for consumers that still want to browse for homes.

Zillow had slowed its homebuying in recent weeks, ahead of the global market uncertainty and spread of coronavirus. The company ended 2019 with 2,707 homes and, as of March 19, that inventory had been reduced to 1,860 homes.

“Zillow Group is well-positioned to navigate these unprecedented times,” Barton said. “We already slowed our pace of acquiring homes over the past month, while our pace of home sales in the quarter accelerated.”

“We have a strong balance sheet and cash position, and are taking proactive steps to reduce spending to offset the important financial support we’re giving our industry partners so we may continue to best serve our mutual customers.”

Email Patrick Kearns

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