Zillow, the online real estate behemoth, now has a New York state residential brokerage license and an address in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood.
But, the company says it doesn’t plan to start selling real estate in the nation’s most expensive urban housing market.
Zillow has been getting real estate brokerage licenses around the country so it can expand parts of its existing business, such as agent leads and landlord services, said a person familiar with the matter.
In addition to New York, Zillow has brokerage licenses in California, Texas, and Florida. The effort began in 2018, and Zillow expects to have licenses in all 50 states by the end of 2020, the person said.
Zillow’s New York license, obtained in December, is valid for two years. The address listed is 130 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan. That’s the same address as StreetEasy, a Zillow subsidiary.
Laws governing real estate prohibit certain activities, such as collecting rents or contacting buyers to screen them as potential leads, without having a brokerage license.
For example, Zillow is rolling out a product that allows people to look for an apartment and then, when they become tenants, use the website to send monthly rent payments to their landlords. In many states, a company can’t do that without a brokerage license.
“As we work to redefine how real estate is done, and create product improvements for consumers, brokers and agents on our platforms, we will be performing activity for which many states require a license,” Viet Shelton, a Zillow spokesman, told HousingWire in a statement.
“In order to cover these new services, Zillow has been working to get traditional brokerage licenses across the country, even though we aren’t operating as a traditional brokerage,” Shelton said.
The New York broker of record, the person responsible for Zillow’s license, is Douglas Perlson, the founder and CEO of RealDirect, a Manhattan brokerage. Perlson declined to comment to The Real Deal, the media outlet which first reported Zillow had obtained a New York license.