Web traffic

Zillow earnings beat forecast as housing boom boosts web traffic

Zillow Group reported better-than-expected first quarter results on Tuesday as the white-hot housing market fueled 2.5 billion visits to the Seattle-based company’s websites and apps.

Scrolling Zillow has become a go-to activity for stuck-at-home Americans pondering real estate upgrades as low interest rates and a shortage of homes to buy fuel the pandemic housing market.

Zillow posted adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $181 million, according to a statement on Tuesday. This exceeded the average analyst estimate of $131 million.

Zillow’s Premier Agent marketing operation, which sells leads to real estate agents, generated $334 million in revenue, up 38% from a year earlier.

The strength of the housing market hasn’t stopped Zillow from acquiring homes for its fledgling house flipping business, called Zillow Offers. The company acquired 1,856 homes in the quarter, the most since the third quarter of 2019.

Zillow makes minor repairs to homes and then puts them up for sale. The operation lost $58 million in the first quarter.

“We’re seeing record numbers of people raising their hands and saying they want a Zillow offer,” chief executive Rich Barton said in an interview. “Speed, certainty and convenience are reliable bets, even in a hot market.”

Zillow shares gained more than 4% in late trading; the company released its quarterly results after markets closed on Tuesday. The stock had fallen 8.9% this year through Tuesday’s close, after nearly tripling in 2020.

Seattle Times business staff contributed to this report.