Secret Warning? Zillow Pauses Home Purchases as Snags Hit Tech-Powered Flipping (Fed Flippers??)

They call them flippers, faster than lightning. At least until now.

Zillow Group Inc. shares fell as much as 6.8% in premarket trading Monday after the online real estate firm said it would stop buying new homes and work to clear a backlog of properties it already has.

The Seattle-based company, which acquired more than 3,800 homes during the second quarter, has seen its stock price tumble about 27% this year after it nearly tripled in 2020 amid the pandemic-fueled housing market boom.

The shares have come under additional pressure in recent weeks after a viral TikTok video from a real estate agent in Las Vegas said an unnamed company was pulling off a convoluted scheme to manipulate housing prices in his home market. Zillow is also facing increased competition from firms like Opendoor Technologies Inc., which announced in August that it bought about 8,500 homes during the second quarter.

Zillow, which acquired more than 3,800 homes in the second quarter, will stop pursuing new home purchases as it works through a backlog of properties already in its pipeline.  

“We are beyond operational capacity in our Zillow Offers business and are not taking on additional contracts to purchase homes at this time,” a spokesperson for Zillow said in an email. “We continue to process the purchase of homes from sellers who are already under contract, as quickly as possible.”

Zillow is best known for publishing real estate listings online and calculating estimated home values – called Zestimates – that let users keep track of how much their home is worth. The popularity of the company’s apps and websites fuels profits in Zillow’s online marketing business. 

Of course, The Fed dumping in trillions into a bottlenecked housing market is helping to fuel the flipper fire.

Is this a secret warning about a possible slowdown in the housing market?

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