Zillow reaches out to WeChat, NetEase on real estate

Updated: 2016-01-18 10:50

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco(chinadaily.com.cn)

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The increasing influence of Chinese homebuyers has prompted Zillow Group, an online real estate-database company, to partner with Chinese social media app WeChat and web portal NetEase to connect China-based buyers with US real estate agents.

"China-based buyers continue to be a huge influence in the US real estate market – they are growing in numbers and spending more every year," said Greg Schwartz, chief business officer of Zillow Group. "We know China-based buyers are already coming to Zillow for their US home search. Through WeChat, we get to connect with them in a new way."

In addition to connecting with a customer service team that speaks Chinese, Zillow is working on developing content in Chinese specifically for the WeChat channel so that China-based buyers can be well-educated about trends in the US market.

"That knowledge, coupled with a direct connection to a Mandarin-speaking real estate agent, will be extremely helpful as buyers are starting their home search," Schwartz said.

Through the WeChat channel zillow_china, home shoppers have access to market information and content translated into Chinese, such as homebuying tips and how to deal with agents and trends in the US real estate market. They also can find contact information for Zillow and US-based agents at the end of each article.

So far, the market information is only available in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Washington, the most popular cities among Chinese homebuyers.

On NetEase, visitors can search for US homes on Zillow and also connect directly with US-based agents. Prior to NeEase, Zillow had partnered with Beijing Yisheng Leju Information Services Co, a Chinese company for home searchers.

According to the National Association of Realtors, in the 12 months ending March 2015, Chinese buyers purchased US properties worth an estimated $28.6 billion, an increase from $22 billion the previous year.

"Given the interest in specific American cities, the impact of these sales can be felt. There’s a huge opportunity for US real estate agents to connect with those homebuyers, so we worked to develop a way for them to do so," said Schwartz, adding that Zillow hasn’t seen a slowdown in traffic coming from China despite its economic slowdown and stock turmoil.

Zillow has created a customer service team with Chinese-language skills and a network of Chinese-speaking agents in markets Chinese buyers are most interested in, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.