Zillow Group Inc. (NASDAQ:Z) (NASDAQ:ZG) released better-than-expected first-quarter 2017 results on Thursday after the market closed, highlighting broad strength across each of its platforms and record monthly unique users to end the quarter.

Let's peek in the windows, then, to see what drove the online real estate specialist's business as it started the new year, as well as what investors should expect in the coming quarters.

Hand receiving a new home key with "Sold" sign in the background.


Zillow Group results: The raw numbers


Q1 2017

Q1 2016

Year-Over-Year Growth


$245.8 million

$186.0 million


GAAP net income (loss)

($4.6 million)

($47.6 million)


GAAP earnings (loss) per share




Data source: Zillow Group. 

What happened this quarter?

  • On an adjusted (non-GAAP) basis, which adds perspective by excluding items like stock-based compensation and acquisition expenses, Zillow Group's net income was $21.9 million, or $0.11 per diluted share, up from a net loss of $22.8 million, or $0.13 per share in the same year-ago period. 
  • Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) was $54.8 million, or 22% of revenue, up from $1.9 million, or 1% of revenue in last year's first quarter.
  • These results were well above Zillow's guidance for revenue of $232 million to $237 million and adjusted EBITDA of $36 million to $41 million.
  • Marketplace revenue increased 36.3%, to $230.3 million, including:
    • 30.3% growth in Premier Agent revenue, to $175.3 million, above guidance for $170 million to $172 million
    • 93.3% growth in "other" real estate revenue -- including businesses like agent services, dotloop, StreetEasy, Naked Apartments, and rentals -- to just under $34.8 million, also above guidance for $31 million to $32 million.
    • 23.2% growth in mortgages revenue, to $20.3 million, above guidance for $17 million to $18 million.
  • Display revenue declined 9.2%, to just over $15.4 million, above guidance for $14 million to $15 million. Recall that Zillow previously decided to de-emphasize display ads in an effort to focus on improving its user experience.
  • Monthly unique users across all Zillow Group brands' mobile apps and websites increased 6.7% year over year during the quarter, to 166.6 million, including an all-time high of nearly 180 million in March.
  • The number of Premier Agent accounts spending over $500 per month climbed 98% year over year, and rose 96% on a total dollar basis.
  • Sales to Premier Agents who have been customers for over a year rose 54%, and sales to existing Premier Agents comprised 63% of total bookings.

What management had to say

Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff elaborated:

Zillow Group's strong first quarter performance across the board was a tremendous start to 2017. We beat our own expectations and surpassed last year's seasonal annual traffic peak by reaching an all-time high of unique users in March. We are thrilled with our first quarter results, which demonstrate that as consumers become more engaged, real estate agents and brokerages become more successful on our platform.

Looking forward

For the second quarter of 2017, Zillow expects revenue of $257 million to $262 million, including Premier Agent revenue of $185 million to $187 million, other real estate revenue of $36 million to $37 million, mortgages revenue of $20 million to $21 million, and display revenue of $16 million to $17 million. Zillow also expects second-quarter adjusted EBITDA of $27 million to $32 million.

Finally, Zillow increased its full-year guidance to call for 2017 revenue of $1.050 billion to $1.065 billion (up from $1.03 billion to $1.05 billion previously) and adjusted EBITDA of $215 million to $230 million (up from $190 million to $210 million previously). 

In short, this was a straightforward beat-and-raise scenario from Zillow Group. As more users continue to flock to its various online real estate platforms, more agents recognize the value offered by those platforms and keep coming back for more. As Zillow's reach continues to grow to this end -- and keeping in mind shares were already up nearly 60% over the past year as of Thursday's close -- I suspect Zillow Group stock will inevitably follow suit over the long term.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.