Real estate information provider Zillow Group Inc. has taken a first step into the Canadian market with a deal to display home listings on its website from Century 21 Canada.
Zillow, based in Seattle, runs the largest U.S. online listing service, displaying properties available for sale across the country. Under the deal announced on Wednesday, Zillow will begin displaying Century 21’s Canadian client listings on its site later this year, but will not display other Canadian MLS listings from other brokerage firms.
The Century 21 deal is Zillow’s first partnership in Canada and the company would like to expand with other brokerage firm listings down the road, said Zillow chief industry development officer Errol Samuelson.
“We are interested in providing consumers with the broadest view of the market possible, so we are certainly open to showing other listings as well,” Mr. Samuelson said.
Some Canadians already use Zillow to search for U.S. properties in markets such as Florida and Arizona, Mr. Samuelson said, and some of them may look at Canadian listings on Zillow as well. But the deal is likely most attractive to U.S. buyers who want to use the site to search for Canadian properties and are already Zillow users.
“We know there are lots of U.S. buyers who do want to look in Canada, and they’re on Zillow today doing searches, but they just don’t get any results,” said Jack Miller, chief technology officer at Century 21 Canada.
Mr. Miller said the partnership could help Century 21 agents compete for new listings in regions of Canada where there is possible U.S. buyer interest, including major cities and popular vacation destinations.
It is “a good value proposition” for Century 21’s Canadian clients to get exposure to U.S. buyers through Zillow at no additional cost, he said. Mr. Miller estimates Century 21 has between 10 per cent and 14 per cent of the market for listings in Canada.
Zillow’s U.S. property listings typically provide prior sales prices for homes, but some Canadian real estate boards do not allow historic sales prices to be published publicly. The Toronto Real Estate Board is facing a long-running legal challenge to the ban, which has been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr. Miller said his firm will not provide past sales prices in markets where the disclosure is banned, saying it is “not trying to rock any boat” with its new deal.
Mr. Samuelson said Zillow is researching ways to provide as much data as possible on Canadian properties, but will comply with existing regulations.
“To the extent possible, our hope is to create an experience for the Canadian listings that is similar to the experience of the U.S. listings,” he said.
He said Zillow will also offer advertising opportunities with its Canadian listings for Canadian real estate agents who are looking to attract potential foreign buyers as clients.