Zillow CEO Eyes Mobile Growth

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Spencer Rascoff, CEO of online real estate specialist Zillow ( Z) believes the company is in the very early stages of growth, citing its mobile strategy as a huge revenue catalyst.

Monetization happens better on mobile devices than on the web, he explained, during an interview, with real estate agents connecting with clients more frequently through mobile devices.

"We have the number one real estate app on iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, Android tablet, every major public platform," Rascoff noted. When people are out shopping for a home, he added, they need access to all the information Zillow provides on its platforms, and that is "incredibly powerful".
Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff

Rascoff said that 50 homes have been viewed every second on mobile devices so far in January, up from 36 homes in December.

Zillow is still in the very early stages of growth, with revenues growing triple digits. This, however, is a huge addressable market, according to Rascoff, with Zillow only having 1% wallet share of advertising from real estate agents.

A partnership with Yahoo! ( YHOO) has also helped facilitate growth. Yahoo! Real Estate, which Zillow runs, is the largest real estate property on the web.

The Seattle-based firm is also aggressively hiring and growing its ad sales team, according to the CEO, who says that Zillow is increasing the services it sells to real estate agents.

The housing market, of course, is seasonal in nature due to weather patterns. Rascoff, however, noted that 60% of the company's revenue, its marketplace revenue, is not seasonal, and has enjoyed a 200% year-over-year growth rate. The other 38%-40% of revenues is display advertising, and that is seasonal, Rascoff noted.

Rascoff believes we are near the end of the housing crisis, but home prices still have more to drop. He believes home prices will decline another 2%-4% in 2012, and then stabilize in late 2012 and early 2013. "We're through the worst, but we're not at the other end yet," Rascoff said.

Despite having mixed results with various programs and initiatives put forth from Washington, Rascoff believes the federal government, through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration should help facilitate more bulk sales of foreclosed properties that are now bank owned to investors or sale leaseback programs. Bulk sales of these properties, known as REOs (Real Estate Owned), would help existing homeowners who are facing foreclosure, as they can be converted into renters. Rascoff said Zillow has been working with the federal government to help encourage taking these actions.

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-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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