Zillow CEO Rich Barton has been named to CNN’s ‘Risk Takers’ list for his big bet to bring the “one-click” dream to real estate. A total of 20 executives were recognized by CNN for taking risks to reinvent their companies and industries including Bob Iger of Disney, Dawn Ostroff of Spotify, and Ted Sarandos of Netflix.
Barton co-founded Zillow to make it easy for buyers and renters to search and find their new homes. He returned to the company as CEO last year to transform Zillow into a company that buys and sells homes through Zillow Offers and offers financing options through Zillow Home Loans.
In an interview with Rachel Crane, innovation correspondent for CNN Business, Barton said “in the tech world, if you’re not growing and innovating, you’re shrinking and dying.” He explained that the process of buying and selling a home today “feels very 1960s to me and yet it still persists. And what Zillow is trying to do is make that very easy.”
Barton said Zillow Offers creates that “express lane,” by letting homeowners sell directly to Zillow, skipping the hassle of listing their home. The company makes the repairs to get the homes sale-ready and resells them.
In a CNN article accompanying the Risk Takers interview, real estate experts noted that no iBuyer (instant buyer) companies are turning a profit on their ventures yet. Real estate strategist Mike DelPrete told CNN the real profit opportunity is to offer consumers options beyond an instant offer, including referrals to agents or brokers, title insurance and mortgages. “It’s empowering consumers,” DelPrete said.
Barton told CNN’s Crane he’s “very comfortable with risk that is tempered, I kind of think of it as courage,” he said.