Why Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia Haven't Killed Off Real Estate Brokers

Illustration by Christina Ung

Over the last decade, the Internet has seeped into that bedrock of the U.S. economy: the housing market. A group of growing and mostly profitable websites have sprung up to help guide consumers through what in many cases will be the largest and most nerve-wracking transaction of their lives. Four sites—Redfin and Zillow, based in Seattle, and Trulia and Realtor.com, based in the San Francisco Bay Area—attract 61 million of the 67 million visitors to real estate websites each month in the U.S., according to ComScore. They also generate hundreds of millions in revenue and have helped turn buying a house into entertainment—a spectator sport that can be enjoyed without darting surreptitiously into random open houses. Ninety percent of consumers now start their real estate journeys on the Web, according to the National Association of Realtors.

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