Zip Realty is an online real estate website and brokerage firm with licensed agents who sell homes and properties on the Zip Realty website. In some areas, there are no Zip offices, so the company partners with local realtors. Scott Kucirek and Juan Mini, graduates of the UC-Berkeley School of Business, founded the company in 1999. The company operates in 35 cities, 22 states, and in Washington, D.C. The company was recently acquired by Realogy Group, which now owns the website and the offices that are located in the US.
When we reviewed Zip's website, we found out some interesting information about the accuracy of real estate listings in the online real estate industry: Zip's technology for its online platform is probably one of the best. There is a press release on the website that confirms something about the industry that we already knew from reviewing this industry: that as many as 15% of listings online have already sold and that 30% of available homes are not captured by most online listings. Zip's recent data quality support suggests that Zip captures 99% of available listings at any given time nationally.
Zip recently unrolled the school information on its listing resources. If you are in the market to purchase a new home, Zip Realty has schools listed near each home in its listings. You can also use Zip's technology to find a school if you already own a home. This was a unique feature of the website that was not duplicated across the industry.
- Listing tracking
- Agents and partners
We liked the features that Zip's website provided. One of the neatest features of the website was the "local information" button that was included in each listing. While we were browsing for homes, we had access to the following information by clicking on the "local information" button:
- Walk Score (providing information on amenities located near the home"
- Transit Score
- Education (including access to the Great Schools listings).
- Population information about an area's white-collar vs. blue-collar population.
In other websites that we reviewed, such as Trulia and Zillow, this information was not always accessible. We liked the white-collar vs. blue-collar population, as this information might help a prospective buyer gauge what type of neighbors comprised the community. The cost of living information was also particularly helpful (this was not a common demographic provided on other listings websites). The score lists "100" as being the average national cost of living in the United States, and then rises or falls based on the locale selected.
Also, the website helps track whether or not the listing is still active. There is information that shows the number of viewings a home has received. While Zip says that there may be some inactive listings, we didn't find an inactive listing during our review of the website (we found that auction and short sale sites had the most inactive listings).
The map feature was also probably the best in the industry with Zip. Zip Realty uses Google as the basic structure of its interactive map. Homes are then listed with flags on the map. The map contains the address, number of beds/baths in the home, and the price of the home. It is also possible to layer schools and transit hubs onto the interactive map.
Another positive aspect of the website was the "Mortgage Center." In addition to bank and realtor lenders, we also found that Zip Reality's mortgage center included FHA and VA loans, for those who qualify. The mortgage area of the website lets you enter your home's price, your down payment, and credit. The service compiles a list of realtors that are available in your area and takes you to the appropriate website.
We also liked the fact that Zip Realty had its own agents and partnered with other realtors in the field. We felt that this helped increase the ease of helping a buyer get their home faster. Other websites only listed realtors and companies that had listed the property.
- No live chat
- Phone numbers
Zip's website does have a few opportunities for improvement. We didn't like the lack of live chat support on the website. Many of the websites that we had looked at in the industry did have a live chat support to help answer questions about setting up an account or finding a realtor.
Another problem with the website was the different phone numbers listed with each Zip marketing area. We felt that one centralized number that "hooked up" with the different Zip offices would be helpful for the customer looking to purchase a new home.
The handful of complaints listed on the website dealt with the nature of purchasing real estate online. One customer felt that their commissioning fees should be refunded because of issues with the home and Zip honored this request. Other complaints had issues with incorrect documents or errors on documents. To circumvent these problems, Zip Realty might want to push more home showings and offer better document options for buyers and sellers.