The U.S. real estate market is heating up, and Zillow is taking advantage of it.
The Seattle online real estate company noted on its Web site today that it topped 50 million unique visitors in March — the first time that it has achieved that milestone. It also marked a 55 percent increase over the company’s visitor count for the same month last year.
Zillow’s traffic has been growing steadily anyway, but spokeswoman Cynthia Nowak noted that the company is also benefitting from the strong home buying season. Home prices increased 7.3 percent last year, and some cities are seeing much bigger gains where the inventory of new homes has shrunk, according to the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index. The National Association of Realtors notes that the number of houses now for sale is at the lowest level since 1999.
Zillow benefits in a hot real estate market as more people visit its site and mobile apps to check on home valuations and other metrics in advance of a purchasing decision. Its revenues grew by 73 percent during the fourth quarter, coming in at $34.3 million.
According to a February report from comScore, Zillow is the largest online real estate network with 17.5 million visitors (comScore does not count visits to mobile, an increasing percentage of Zillow’s traffic base). That was followed by Trulia at 13.9 million and Realtor.com at 11.6 million.
Visitor counts aren’t all that matters, and Realtor.com notes that people spend a longer amount of time on its site — an average of 33.4 minutes.
Shares of the online real estate companies have been performing well in recent months. Zillow’s shares have more than doubled from the July 2011 IPO price of $20 per share. The stock is now trading at about $50 per share, up 81 percent on the year.
Here’s a look at Zillow’s traffic growth in recent months: