Zillow’s Shuttered Home-Flipping Business Lost $881 Million in 2021

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Zillow’s Shuttered Home-Flipping Business Lost $881 Million in 2021

Zillow Group Z 8.83%▲ said on Thursday that it lost $881 million on its algorithmic-driven home-flipping business last year in its first earnings report since the real-estate company shut down that operation in the fall.

The full company, which includes Zillow’s profitable home-listing and advertising business, posted a consolidated net loss of $528 million in 2021, mostly because of its home-flipping business, Zillow Offers.

The flipping outfit had been responsible for the majority of Zillow’s revenue in recent years but none of its profits.

The company shocked the market in November by announcing it was closing Zillow Offers because the tech-powered platform failed to accurately predict movements in home prices.

Zillow also cut about 2,000 jobs, or one-quarter of its staff, and wrote down losses of more than a half-billion dollars on the value of the remaining homes connected with Zillow Offers.

For the fourth quarter, Zillow reported a net loss of $261 million, or $1.03 a share. Analysts expected Zillow to report a loss of 90 cents a share, according to FactSet.

Class A Shares of Zillow had fallen about 1.3% on Thursday as of market close but began rising during after-hours trading.

There were some positive results for the real-estate company, which was able to capitalize on the red hot housing market. Revenue for the core segment of Zillow, based around home listings on its website, rose 30% in 2021, compared with the previous year. Margins on that business were 45%, measured on an adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization basis, up from 38% in 2020.

Zillow said in a Thursday letter to shareholders that it is targeting revenue of $5 billion by 2025, with 45% EBITDA margins. The company said it generated about $8.1 billion in revenue last year, though Zillow Offers was responsible for about $6 billion of it.

In an interview, Chief Executive Rich Barton said the company would grow revenue by expanding the reach of its financing services and working to get more people to use Zillow to tour homes.

“Customers who take a tour with us are three times as likely to buy a home with us,” Mr. Barton said.

Zillow said that it had sold or had agreements to sell more than 85% of its remaining inventory of homes from its defunct flipping business. During the fourth quarter, Zillow lost an average of about $25,000 on every home it sold, before interest expense, though it sold those homes faster and at much smaller losses than it had expected, the company said.

According to YipitData, Zillow still has about 8,600 homes on its books.

It previously sold some of its homes to large investors, like rental landlord Pretium Partners, which agreed to buy 2,000 of them in November.

Zillow executives also spoke on a Thursday earnings call about building a “housing super app,” investing in new products for home-sellers and doubling the share of American home sales that happen on Zillow. “Our company was built on big swings and we’re going to keep taking them,” Mr. Barton said.