Rich Barton highlighted how COVID-19 is greatly accelerating the need for technology transformation in the real estate industry on an earnings call.

The virtual tools that home shoppers are relying on out of necessity during an era of social distancing are going to be expected of the real estate industry on the other side of this global crisis, Zillow CEO Rich Barton said on an earnings call with investors, Thursday.

Rich Barton | Photo credit: Zillow Group

Those tools from Zillow include virtual buying and selling, a rich media experience, 3D floor plans, virtual home tours and e-closing and signing of documents.

“The virtual tools home shoppers need for safety today, will become their expectations for convenience tomorrow,” Barton said. “Our focus now is not just on managing our way through this crisis, we’re also moving faster into the future.”

“That’s all exactly what people’s expectations are for a 2020 industry, how it should operate, but today’s real estate industry has not been operating that way, it’s been operating like as if it’s been back in the 1960s or 70s.”

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted Zillow like it has many other real estate companies, but part of navigating crisis is knowing when to hit the brakes — Zillow paused home buying in March, for example — and when to accelerate, Barton said. Now’s the time to be accurate on the company’s vision of Zillow 2.0, and make it a reality, sooner than they had planned, Barton added.

Barton said the company needs to be mindful of how it accelerates, but “also not blind to the opportunities that are being unlocked to accelerate a new era for real estate.”

“You’re seeing years of technology progress get accelerated down into months,” Barton said. “As the tech leaders in the industry, we are in a position to lead and we are the beneficiaries of that.”

Barton has previously given insight into what he calls, “real estate 2.0,” or sometimes, “Zillow 2.0,” which is headlined by the company’s shift from focusing on Premier Agent to Zillow Offers, it’s homebuying and selling platform.

“We dream one day of you almost having a trade-in experience with your house,” Barton told CNBC in November 2019, describing real estate 2.0.

“Where you’re standing in a Zillow Offers house that we own, you’ve been there 15 times, you’ve let yourself in with the Zillow app, we know who you are and where you live, we have a mortgage ready to go, we have an offer for your house when you’re ready to transact and you, with one click, can decide to move.”

Email Patrick Kearns

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