Zillow zeroes in

Zillow released a new homepage design this week.

It’s bold. It’s clear. There’s zero kruft.

A couple of things strike me here:

Zillow is trying to “Googlefy” the real estate industry. Just like search the giant is synonymous with search on the Internet, Zillow seems to be trying to become synonymous with real estate on the Internet.

I’m not sure if Zillow’s new design either consciously or unconsciously aped the big G’s look and feel. But, either way, to the end user, it signals a similar level of self-assurance. There’s a swagger in its simplicity.

How many other companies can you think of that are confident enough in their value proposition to simply use a single search field as their homepage?

But to get to Google-like status, they’re just going to have to get over one thing.

The Zestimate.

It was Zillow’s biggest coup, and also the one it still catches the most flack for.

The Zestimate was consumer catnip and catapulted Zillow into the public mind. But it is also an public relations albatross.

Amongst regular people, Zillow is still only “that site that tells you how much your home is worth.”

The Zestimate was something that was fun when home prices were skyrocketing, but a major bummer today for most people and no longer a major point of differentiation for the company.

Zillow has slowly relegated the Zesitmate’s significance over time but, as of today, it’s gone. Completely absent from the new homepage.

This is a pretty big move, and, I suspect, indicative of where they’re heading.

When I say that Zillow wants to be like Google, I think that actually is their long term goal. To be the eponym for modern real estate. The place where you go to find, price and sell a home.

They’re siphoning up talent, have cash in the bank and clearly have a willingness to make big moves to get where they want to be.

Time will tell whether or not they get there, but this new home page offers a look down the road they intend to follow.