Last week Zillow announced their automated quotes API. The new addition will allow lenders to receive and respond to quote requests in real time and will obviously speed the tedious process tremendously. (Note to Zillow, change the “How it works section“…”You will not receive “insta-quotes” done by a computer”)
“We’re excited to be announcing the Zillow Quote API today to enable the lenders within Zillow Mortgage Marketplace to more efficiently service a larger number of borrowers, ultimately helping them gain more business,” said Lloyd Frink, President of Zillow.com. “We believe this new feature will also improve the experience for the borrowers on our site by providing a greater number of quotes, faster, as well as more options in rates and lenders to help them chose the right loan and lender for them.”
I am not aware of the specifics of the API, however the first question I have is if and how this may affect the quality of the quotes. I’ going to assume the quotes that the lenders were manually answering were fairly specific to the borrowers needs. Then again, maybe maybe I am wrong. Nonetheless, I think this is going to possibly lower the quality of the quotes and the services the consumers will receive. I know previously I said that the Zillow Marketplace was too much of a process and that large companies would have trouble implementing the marketplace into their current strategies, but maybe that was a good thing. Its possible to think that the smaller broker, that have the extra time, also have the time to provide a higher level of customer service and better overall experience.
A number of service providers have integrated with the new API. Our friends at Leads360, being one of them, as well as Mortech, Mortgagebot, NYLX and Optimal Blue.
In the wake of the announcement, Zillow also announced that it was in the companies best interest to cut 25% of their workforce.
The unprecedented economic events that are playing out on a global stage began in our own industry and have made a prolonged recession likely, in our judgment. We are a young company that is not yet making a profit. Despite having sizeable cash reserves, we deemed the responsible course was to meaningfully reduce expenses, so that Zillow emerges from the other side of the recession in a very strong position, even if the recession lasts many years.
I think there is going to come a time when Zillow is going to start charging for access to there marketplace. The creation of their API is going to make it too easy to place quotes and will possibly over saturate the network and the consumer. The lack of efficiency they once had and continue to have for people not yet integrated with the new API, kept the network from being bombarded with quotes. Is the API now going to open the flood gates? It is quite possible that the consumers will have so many options that they will not make a decision at all. The only way to relieve this problem and decrease the amount of quotes to a consumer, other then eliminating the API and capping the number of quotes, would be to implement a fee to provide the quotes. This would then turn them into the next LMB.