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Zillow Acquires StreetEasy, Goes Vertical, Literally

I was reading my twitter feed and it just jumped out at me: Zillow announced their acquisition of StreetEasy [6] for $50M in cash. I also heard it simultaneously on the show Bloomberg Surveillance [7]. Their CEO Spencer Rascoff [8] will be on the show tomorrow morning to talk about the acquisition [9].

While there will be lots of prognosticating about Zillow [10]‘s entrance into the NYC housing market through a heavily used resource like StreetEasy [11] (Zillow was here already, just not taken very seriously).

I think there’s a bigger story for Zillow. If Zillow leverages the StreetEasy data presentation model [12], Zillow will be shaking up the housing market real estate information space across the US.

Think highrise urban housing markets – I call them “vertical” markets (not to be confused with “vertical” in marketing parlance).

• All national data aggregators and brokerage companies haven’t yet figured out vertical housing markets yet in terms of their presentation of information.
• MLS systems remain firmly single family orientated and have yet to present data in highrise markets in a visually logical way – ie co-ops and condos. Symbolic of the general primitiveness of MLS systems in handling multi-unit housing, one MLS system in the NYC metro area still tags “co-ops” as “condos.”

Kudos to Streeteasy for shaking up the market from day one. When they launched, StreetEasy became the housing data resource of choice for most in NYC. I met most of the team a while back and I was impressed with how a small group of people could really shake things up in a huge market. While presenting clean data in a very dirty data environment continues to be a challenge, I think their greatest contribution to the housing market has been how they displayed their information – in a way that consumers screamed for.