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Monday, January 25, 2021

Zoning In On Zillow—We Browsed Internet’s Newest Pastime Site and Found Out Why Everyone’s Obsessed with It

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ICYMI, everyone’s totally hooked with Zillow these days. What’s Zillow, you ask? It’s a leading real estate and rental site that boasts of having a  database with 110 million homes across the U.S. And it’s everybody’s new pandemic pastime.

An article recently published by Glamour, shares how a full-time student, a 23-year old from Tampa, and a 29-year old Chicago resident, all spend significant time on the website just browsing through homes and condos. The article even mentions how Lily (from Chicago) scrolls through condos and houses more frequently than she scrolls through Tinder.

Anyone who looks up Zillow on Twitter will find themselves going through a couple thousand tweets of people from all over the U.S., some describing the perfect homes they found, some cracking jokes about their intense window shopping for homes that they won’t buy.

“It’s not a bad way to pass time if you’ve got absolutely nothing better to do,” I told myself. I have been browsing through the site for just about 15 minutes now and I can see myself getting totally hooked. It’s kind of like a very premium Pinterest board, but real, and is up for purchase or rent. Having that idea that I could possibly live in these spaces one day just makes the site’s appeal more alluring.

Everyone wants to live in a better place. Perhaps, my idea of better is different from yours or the next person, but we all have a picture in our heads of a place where we would rather be staying if only we could afford it. And it’s that desire for greener pastures that this pandemic and being forced to stay at home amplify.

When before our homes served a single purpose, which is mostly to house our things and rest for the night, it has now become the center of our lives. We work in our home. We exercise in our home. We socialize digitally from the safety of our home. We even educate our children in our home. 

It is therefore not surprising that most of us will want to have better ones. And since not everyone has the money to blow on a fully-furnished, 5,000-square feet lakeside property in Florida or a 2,000 square feet penthouse unit in the Upper East Side, we go for the next best thing—online window shopping. 

According to Realtor.com’s Chief Economist, Danielle Hale, their website recorded an all-time high traffic last June with 86 million people visiting the site. Additionally, Zillow’s home trends expert, Amanda Pendleton, says that web traffic to their sale listings has increased by 41% compared to 2019.

She tells TMRW, “It’s impossible to know what’s precisely driving the huge increase in traffic to for-sale listings. It could be coming from buyers looking to move after being stuck at home for months, or simply from aspirational viewers seeking an escape through real estate. It could also be summer home shoppers who aren’t able to tour open houses in person, so have turned to online home shopping instead.”

That said, if the tweets are to prove anything—it’s that interest for the real estate site has grown immensely over the past couple of weeks with most people saying that they find comfort from browsing through the various listings.

I tried getting my friends on video conference over the weekend. The idea is that we will all go through the different listings together and try to create a list of homes that we all really like per location. What I thought was an activity that would last for an hour or two went all the way til 3AM. And by the time we were all ready to bid each other goodnight, we’ve already spent hours browsing through the sites separately, trying to find homes that fit our individual tastes.

In conclusion, yes, Zillow is highly addicting and tells you a lot about how those who are able to afford these homes actually live. It’s also not a bad way to kill time if you’ve got extra in your hands. That said, if you can, I personally recommend doing something a bit more productive like exercising or learning new skills. But then again, to each his own. What’s important is that you stay safe, sane, and happy.

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