Zillow Inc. is tackling home improvement with the recent launch of Zillow Digs, a free app available exclusively for iPad and as a Web service. With Zillow Digs, home shoppers and homeowners can find visual inspiration and understand the real cost of remodeling projects. Users can browse tens of thousands of photos and see Zillow's proprietary Digs Estimates for the estimated cost, based on where they live, of the actual bathrooms and kitchens they are viewing. They can create, save and share Boards of ideas and decor they love, browse Boards created by others, comment on photos and follow people with similar interests. And, they can connect with local home improvement professionals for help.
According to a recent survey by Ipsos, more than 75 percent of homeowners who bought a home in the past year recently completed a home improvement project. Nearly 25 percent of recent homeowners remodeled a bathroom or kitchen in the past year.
"Tens of millions of home buyers shop for homes on Zillow each month, and home improvement is a natural next step for us in consumer empowerment and transparency of information to help people make smarter decisions," said Spencer Rascoff, CEO at Zillow. "I'm also excited to introduce a revolutionary new tool for consumers: Digs Estimates. This first-of-its-kind remodeling cost estimate algorithm was created by Zillow's industry-leading team of economists and data analysts who produce extensive housing data and research."
Unique to Zillow, Digs Estimates give consumers the estimated cost of thousands of real bathrooms and kitchens in Zillow Digs' ever-increasing portfolio of photos and are computed using Zillow's proprietary algorithm, which includes real-world data from local contractors such as size, materials, finish level, and regional labor and material rates. The Digs Estimates' patent-pending technology helps home shoppers and homeowners create more realistic budgets appropriate for their specific market.
Additionally on Zillow Digs, homeowners can find and connect with local professionals such as architects, contractors and designers who can help with their projects. Professionals can create a free Zillow Digs profile with contact information, photos of past work and a link to their website. Professionals also can market their expertise and their business by creating Boards, commenting on others' photos and answering questions. And, just as in other Zillow marketplaces, local professionals can build valuable reputations through customer ratings and reviews.
Zillow now has a mobile and Web marketplace for consumers and professionals at every stage of the homeownership life cycle: from renting a first apartment, to buying and inancing a home and, now, improving that home. Like the U.S. markets for real estate, mortgages and rentals, home improvement is a large and growing market, achieving roughly $300 billion in consumer spending in 2012, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.