Zillow Suspends Internet Home-Buying Service as Coronavirus Rages

Zillow suspended its internet home-buying service as the coronavirus rages. Six states have ordered a halt to nonessential business, which includes many real estate activities.
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Real estate titan Zillow Group  (ZG) - Get Report said Monday it would suspend its internet home-buying service, Zillow Offers, in all 24 markets in which it operates.

The move was a response to the coronavirus, which has ground the real estate market to a halt around the country. 

The Seattle company joins competitors OpenDoor and Redfin  (RDFN) - Get Report, which also have suspended their internet home buying.

"Our top priority is ensuring the safety and health of our employees, customers, and partners,” Zillow Chief Executive 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."

He said the company planned to restore Zillow Offers once the pandemic eases and local health orders are lifted. 

States including California, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, New York and Nevada have ordered lockdowns for their citizens. And they have mandated that all nonessential business operations, including many real-estate activities, stop.

Zillow also said it’s suspending plans to open additional Zillow Offers markets. The company said its home inventory was 1,860 as of March 19, down from 2,707 at Dec. 31.

Ironically, the National Association of Realtors reported last week that home resales soared 6.5% in February from January. But experts predict that gain will reverse big-time in March.

At last check, Zillow stock traded down 3.7% at $25.50.

On Feb. 19, the day the overall market peaked, Zillow shares jumped as much as 20% after the company reported revenue that topped analysts’ expectations.