April 13, 2006
Zillow Offers Bird’s Eye View of Home Real Estate
By Eric Auchard
SAN FRANCISCO -- Zillow.com plans on Thursday to introduce a new feature to its real estate research Web site offering bird's eye, low-altitude photographs of residential neighborhoods, via a deal with software maker Microsoft Corp..The Seattle-based company, which is looking to transform the way people research home buying and selling, launched Zillow earlier this year.
In the same way that Expedia took the mystery out of ticket pricing, Zillow allows consumers to find out key data on neighborhoods and calculate the value of their homes. It features no property listings.
Using Microsoft's Virtual Earth platform, Zillow will now be the first real estate site to give consumers an immersive, 45-degree-angle view of residential neighborhoods down to specific homes, allowing them to zoom in from four directions.
Zillow (http://www.zillow.com) is a free service funded through local advertising, and is designed to be independent from real estate agents. Since it launched in February, it has become among the fourth most popular U.S. real estate Web sites, according to Internet traffic measurement firm Hitwise.
The new images are shown alongside satellite maps, parcel information, home valuation and individual home data.
Images, taken by Pictometry, a supplier of aerial photography, are captured via digital cameras pointed at a 45-degree angle from low-flying airplanes. They will supplement Zillow's existing satellite and street map views.
Zillow, whose executive team includes several former Microsoft employees, is licensing the aerial images from Microsoft, which is based in nearby Redmond, Washington.
Terms of the relationship were not disclosed.
Initially, the new views can be found on home searches in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston and Las Vegas. Additional coverage will be added later this year.
Rich Barton, who founded travel site Expedia and sold it to IAC/InterActiveCorp in 2003, set up Zillow with $32 million in venture capital from Benchmark Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures.
Zillow's service, which is still in trial mode, now has data on more than 65 million homes, the company said.
It competes with IAC, which owns such leading real estate sites as RealEstate.com (http://www.realestate.com), LendingTree (http://www.lendingtree.com) and Domania (http://www.domania.com).
(Additional reporting by Yinka Adegoke in New York)