Zillow to lay off 47 workers in Washington state as part of Zillow Offers home buying shutdown

Zillow Group headquarters is located in the Russell Investments Center building in Seattle. (GeekWire File Photo / John Cook)

Zillow Group plans to lay off 47 workers in Washington state as part of the 2,000 company employees who will lose their jobs following the decision this week to shut down the home buying and selling operation Zillow Offers.

The number was revealed Thursday in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) from the Washington state Employment Security Department. The layoffs are expected to begin on Jan. 3.

Seattle-based Zillow said it has begun notifying some Zillow Offers employees in various places around the country that their roles are included in the layoffs which were announced on Tuesday. The layoffs will take place over several quarters.

The real estate company employs about 8,000 people across the U.S. and Canada and about 2,300 in Washington state. A move to a distributed workforce model during the pandemic means that the company now counts employees across the state rather than just rooted to its Seattle headquarters office.

Zillow Offers began rolling out in 2018 as the company moved into iBuying, a digital process intended to accelerate how people sell their home. But unpredictability in forecasting home prices proved too tough a task for the company’s algorithm and Zillow wasn’t prepared for “earnings and balance-sheet volatility,” according to CEO Rich Barton.

“I’m sorry for how difficult and disruptive this will be,” said Barton, who co-founded Zillow 16 years ago and is the largest individual shareholder. “The most difficult part of this decision is that it will impact many of our colleagues. This is not something we take lightly. We are grateful for their efforts, and we are committed to providing a smooth transition.”

Back in March, Zillow was riding a hot real estate market and rising stock price when it announced plans to add 2,000 distributed employees for roles in tech, mortgage and loans, product, and software development, with a growing percentage of the company’s staff located outside of Seattle.

“Zillow Group’s 2021 hiring strategy was based on the company’s needs at the time,” a Zillow spokesperson told GeekWire on Thursday, reiterating the decision and reasoning behind winding down Zillow Offers.

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