Pricing exceptions are widespread in mortgage — and so are the regulatory risks

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Zillow

Founded in 2005, Zillow is the most visited real estate website in the United States. It provides an online real estate marketplace for finding and sharing information about homes, real estate, and mortgages. Together with its affiliates and subsidiaries, it provides users with an on-demand experience for selling, buying, renting or financing a home.

Zillow’s most widely known tool, the Zestimate, was born out of the release of Google Maps’ satellite view that provides a detailed view of neighborhoods throughout the country. The idea was to attach a price to each house in that type of satellite view – and has since grown, for better or worse, into a very popular mechanism used by consumers to value homes.

In 2019, with the return of Rich Barton as CEO, Zillow entered the mortgage space after purchasing Mortgage Lenders of America, launching its own lending operation called Zillow Home Loans. According to Zillow, the strategic move streamlined and shortened the homebuying process for consumers who purchased homes through Zillow Offers

Zillow recently made news with its exit from the iBuying market, opting to cease operations on its Zillow Offers program – which involved the company in buying homes, making minor renovations and then quickly re-selling the homes for a profit. Zillow Offers had been responsible most of the company’s revenue and, after being eliminated, led to the loss of nearly 2,000 jobs and losses of more than $500 million on the value of the remaining homes on its books. This is a major contrast to original forecasts for the Zillow Offers program, which executives initially predicted would generate $20 billion in revenue annually.

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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