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Will Zillow's iBuying Exit Hurt the Real Estate Market?

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® – Nov 20, 2021 at 7:03AM

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How much of an impact will the real estate giant's decision to abandon its home-buying business have on home prices?

Zillow (ZG -2.27%) (Z -2.88%) recently surprised investors by getting out of the homebuying business. That was certainly a disappointment for the company's shareholders, who had hoped it would be a new profit generator for the company. But there's a bigger question: What implications -- if any -- does this change have for the overall real estate market? In this Fool Live video clip, recorded on Nov. 3, contributor Matt Frankel, CFP®, discusses why he's not too worried about its impact.

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Matt Frankel: Boston Stu says, "Hey, Matt. Do you think the recent developments in Zillow abandoning iBuying will be a domino in ending the boom in housing prices? I wonder whether institutional buying played a role in exacerbating the housing shortage."

No, I don't think that the Zillow news will play a role in ending the boom in housing prices. iBuying as an entire industry is right about 1% of the entire housing market. Zillow was not the biggest player in that space. Opendoor (OPEN -7.72%) is by far the biggest player in that space. Zillow's iBuying represents something to the effect of 0.2% of the entire housing market. They've already said that there's institutional interest for the 7,000 or so homes they're holding. So I don't think that from a homeowner's perspective, there's any reason to be worried about the price of your house because of the Zillow news.

Having said that, I tweeted this morning that the Zillow news -- them exiting iBuying, and the way they went about it -- is probably the most disappointed I've ever been in a company that I've invested in, and I have had some pretty bad ones. It seems like an incompetence problem. Just last week, they put out a statement saying that they were going to suspend iBuying for the rest of the year due to overwhelming demand, and really spun it into a good thing. And then just a few days later, to completely upend your business model? They've been saying for years how iBuying is their growth engine.

So as an investor, I'm disappointed, but as a homeowner, I'm not worried that that's going to set off any type of domino effect. There's tons of institutional interest for homes, not just from iBuyers, but from a lot of real estate investment trusts. Invitation Homes (INVH -1.17%) is one that's scooping up rental properties left and right. Opendoor put out a statement saying they're still in business. There are a few others in the space that are doing very well. It just seems like a mismanagement in this one case. So from a homeowner's perspective, I'm not very worried about it.

Matthew Frankel, CFP® owns shares of Zillow Group (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Invitation Homes Inc., Opendoor Technologies Inc., Zillow Group (A shares), and Zillow Group (C shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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