Real Estate

Zillow, Redfin, Better Seek To Grow Their Mortgage Businesses

This article was shared here with permission from Mike DelPrete for Inman Intel, a data and research arm of Inman offering deep insights and market intelligence on the business of residential real estate and proptech. Subscribe today.

A number of real estate tech companies have ambitions to grow mortgage businesses, and results from the past year highlight which companies are actually gaining market share.

Why it matters: The data shows, in very real terms, what “investing for growth” really means, and which companies are best positioned to grow mortgage as a meaningful adjacency.

  • Zillow is the standout, doubling its MLO (mortgage loan originator) headcount over the past 14 months — during a very difficult time to be in mortgage.

In a down market, it’s rare for a company to double its mortgage headcount.

  • But one other company has done so, seemingly back from the abyss: Better Mortgage.
  • After shedding over 1,000 MLOs during the dark days of 2022, Better is back — or at least investing for growth — by doubling its MLO headcount over the past year.

Redfin has slowly shed MLOs since its acquisition of Bay Equity Home Loans in 2022.

  • Like Zillow, its goal is to attach mortgage services to its core brokerage operation, but in contrast to Zillow, its headcount is shrinking (down 30 percent since acquisition).

More MLOs correlate to more funded loans: Comparing the two portals over the past year, Zillow has more than doubled its loan origination volume, while Redfin’s has slightly declined.

  • Redfin’s mortgage business is still larger than Zillow’s, but unlike Zillow, it’s not growing.

The bottom line: My latest podcast guest, Greg Schwartz, CEO of Tomo and former president at Zillow, summed up the situation well: “Growth is in our control.”

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