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What the Names Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia Mean

what's in a name

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 space, 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 the Word Zillion

  • The name Zillow is a made up word that is a combination of existing words
  • It relates to the zillions of data points used to come up with their famous Zestimate
  • And also happens to rhyme with the word pillow, which appears to the emotional side of homeownership

First up is Seattle, Washington-based Zillow, which got its start by offering free house values using an algorithm.

Before they came along, it was hard to know what your home was worth without getting an appraisal done.

As for their unique name, it rhymes with popular words like willow and pillow. And while willow trees are certainly homey, the word pillow is actually part of the name.

They note that a home is more than just data; it’s also a place to lay one’s head, hence the word pillow.

But primarily, Zillow is a play on the zillions of data points the company digests to come up with home values (Zestimates).

The company was founded back in 2005, and since then has become a major player in both the real estate realm and the mortgage world.

They have since launched Zillow Home Loans and are also an iBuyer of homes via their Zillow Offers subsidiary.

The publicly traded company’s stock is currently valued at a whopping $23 billion. Well done Zillow, well done.

Redfin Is an Empty Vessel, Among Other Things

  • While the name might evoke images of birds or fish, it’s actually an anagram and an empty vessel
  • If you shuffle the words around you can make the word friend or finder
  • But it seems the company just liked how it looked and sounded

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, and the Redfin Estimate.

It’s also getting involved in the mortgage sphere via its Redfin Mortgage entity, and is an actual real estate brokerage, unlike the others.

Like Zillow, they also got into the iBuying craze after launching RedfinNow, pitting them against arguably their biggest rival in just about every space.

The company went public in 2017, and is currently worth about $5 billion, considerably less than Zillow.

Trulia Means Truth

  • This company’s name actually has a historical context
  • It’s based on an old-timey first or last name that means “truth”
  • All large companies want to exude this virtue to their loyal customer base

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 back in the day. 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 acquired by Zillow in 2015 for $2.5 billion in stock.

They’re pretty similar to their parent company Zillow, though they’re also big on the rental business and specialize in unique insights about neighborhoods, not just the properties themselves.

(photo: Jack Dorsey)

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