Rich Barton Magic Money Machine



Zillow’s net profit in 2011 was 1.1 Million Dollars.  For 2012 it was 5.9 Million Dollars.  A grand total of Seven Million Dollars net profit for the past two years.  I personally know AGENTS who’ve made that much money.  Zillow is practically bragging about having made these amounts.

They have been in business since 2006 and until the past two years mostly LOST MONEY.  So the 7 million is sort of close to the entire amount they’ve made since they started.  You can drill down deeper if the exact amounts you fascinate – but the 7 million is close.  Here is something they don’t tend to brag about – and this link has some of the most astounding numbers you will EVER see.  Scroll down if you want to see specific amounts for individual officers of the corporation.

That is correct.  ONE HUNDRED FORTY-SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS in insider sales since they went public. If you calculate how long the company will need to average their best year (5.9 million) for the company to make as much as the insiders have already taken as gains for themselves – it will take 25 YEARS!

This isn’t about “Zestimates” being wrong.  It is about them being irrelevant.  It makes no difference if their data is correct or complete crap.  The insiders are rich.  If there is something I’ve written any Zillow executive has a problem with, please have your lawyer send their Threat Letters to me here:

One of the most astounding facts I found is that Zillow’s  (at least as of this post, today) market cap is at 1.7 BILLION.  ( Yes, Billion, with a “B”.  This is astounding because there is no way in hell it is worth that much and some short sellers are going to make a tremendous amount of money when the bubble bursts.  But I will save those details for a future post.

Sometimes the people who actually run Zillow show a certain ability to see around corners.  Naming the companyzillow-passive-agressive would be a good example.  Naming their automated (even though usually useless) valuation system “Zestimate” is another example.  Buying the names and back when they started the company is another example.

 There are certain things they do quite well.  There are others where it seems they stink.  I’ll be covering both aspects over the next few years – the good and the bad.

 I suppose I am grateful for some of their stupidity as it will make part of what I am going to be doing so much easier to accomplish. 

 In addition to the available anti-zillow names on the link above, here are five more that Zillow didn’t have the foresight to purchase:

I bought them and pointed them all to

So, dear readers – you tell me.  Which URL should be the “main name” for my site?  Which one seems best?

When I finally discovered in late January what Zillow had done to me and all of their paying customers outraged me so thoroughly that I called and made several demands.  Working my way through their channels it became obvious that they had no intention of doing any of them.  From their point of view they had done precisely nothing wrong.  They had sent a notice.  It was all legal. In other words, they could get away with it.

The 2nd person I spoke with is named, Martin.  Martin’s job was to handle people who wanted to cancel their account with Zillow.  I told Martin that I was aware of the continuous price increases but that what they did in October was a covert and underhanded move designed to hide a massive price increase and that they had actually cheated me and all of their other customers when they did it.  It was about the same as a Realtor filling out a listing form, charging the seller 6% and then going back in to an elderly person and having them unknowingly agree to a 15% commission.  Martin didn’t see it that way at all.  But that is exactly how I saw it.

You can see the specifics at this link:

I am accustomed to advertising vendors attempting to overcharge me.  I spend a little over $800,000 a year on marketing.  Every year at contract negotiation time pretty much every TV and radio station wants to explain why we should pay more for even less.  It wasn’t the fact of a price increase that outraged me – but the disingenuous method they chose to use.  And no TV or radio station (or other source of internet leads I’ve ever used) has ever attempted to trick me once I made a deal with them.  According to Martin, Zillow  had simply “changed their business model”.

I explained to him that based on what each lead cost me the cost per closed deal (buying Zillow leads) went from about $1,100 a deal to about $1,900 a deal.  He became agitated that I kept insisting on using a cost per lead – he let me know “we don’t sell leads, we sell number of impressions”.  Really, Martin?  Cost per impression?  Fine, if you hadn’t at the very same time tried to hide the fact that you REALLY jacked the price this time.  So high that I believe any agent who sees and understands what your company just pulled and can see what their true cost is now will simply stop doing business with Zillow.

My demands were:

  1. Refund to me the money they had overcharged me.
  2. Refund to all of the other agents they had overcharged.
  3. Issue a public apology for having been sneaky about it.
  4. Promise to never do it again.

Martin made it clear Zillow wasn’t going to do any of these things.

They didn’t have to refund me or anybody else.  They had “sent a notice” they were making those changes.  It was legal. was already taken.  Same for  Already taken.  This is a company that is openly mocked and pretty much the entire agent community (their actual paying customers) dislikes them.  The people who might speak up in their defense are on their payroll.

They spew FALSE AND MISLEADING DATA almost non-stop and pretend like it is factual information.  This false information is not limited to their usually silly “Zestimates”.  Oh no.  In the months and years ahead I will document that the initially open (but now hidden) CONTEMPT that Zillow’s founder has for agents remains an interegal part of the make up of the company now.

I will take up the ACTUAL PURPOSE of Zillow and demonstrate why the PRICES THEY CHARGE WON’T WORK for their paying customers.  I will show, with specifics,  that they are PASSIVE-AGRESSIVE in most of what they do and say.

Every word or phrase that is capitalized in this post will be the subject of a future post.  And …. I promise to make each and everyone of them informative and entertaining.