Nowadays, just about everyone looking to buy or sell real estate begins their search online.
And a small handful of websites seem to be dominating the home buying process, including oddly-named real estate tech companies.
I use these websites all the time when researching real estate, but never actually knew the details behind their names. So here goes.
Zillow Is a Play on Zillion
First up is Seattle, Washington-based Zillow, which rhymes with popular words like willow and pillow.
While willow trees are homey, the word pillow is actually part of the name. Primarily, Zillow is a play on the zillions of data points the company digests to come up with home values (Zestimates), but they also note that a home is more than just data; it’s also a place to lay one’s head, hence the word pillow.
It was founded back in 2005, and since then has become a major player in both the real estate realm and the mortgage world.
In fact, their Mortgage Marketplace received a record 5.9 million loan requests in the third quarter, with revenue of $5.7 million, up 120% from a year earlier.
The company’s stock is currently valued at a whopping $2.72 billion. Well done Zillow.
Redfin Is an Empty Vessel, Among Other Things
Another growing superpower in the real estate space is Redfin, which has an even stranger name.
While the name sounds like a fish, species of shark, or some other deadly predator, it’s actually an anagram.
Yep, jumble the letters around and you come up with words like “finder” and “friend.” Taken together, you’ve got a friend to help you find your perfect home.
Back in 2004, company founder David Eraker noted that the name Redfin was also a “great empty vessel.”
By that, he ostensibly meant a rather arbitrary yet memorable and unique name that would eventually win the hearts of everyday consumers.
After all, empty vessels make the most noise, so if anything, it’s a talking point that may spark some initial curiosity.
Redfin is big in the real estate game, with perhaps the most up-to-date listings and tools like the Price Whisperer, but it’s not very involved in the mortgage sphere. However, they are an actual real estate brokerage, unlike the others.
They do have “recommended lenders” that have worked with Redfin clients, but they tend to focus on the non-financing portion of the process.
At the moment, the company is private, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they go public at some point in the very near future.
Trulia Means Truth
Last on the list of weird real estate company names is Trulia, which sounds more like someone’s name than it does a company.
In fact, it is (or was) a baby name, albeit a rare one. It apparently means “truthful” or “trustworthy,” something the company founders wanted to exude.
I’m pretty sure the name was around before the company was, perhaps as a surname and maybe randomly as a first name.
The San Francisco-based company was founded back in 2005, and like Zillow, is publicly traded on the stock market.
At last glance, the company was worth just over $1.1 billion. They’re pretty similar to Redfin, though they’re also big on the rental business and specialize in unique insights about neighborhoods, not just the properties themselves.
(photo: Jack Dorsey)