Rascoff will discuss Zillow’s entry into iBuying as well as the growth of other new homebuying and selling models, such as that of his most recent real estate startup, Pacaso. Before the event, we caught up with Rascoff to discuss his most recent endeavors and what he thinks of this year’s summit theme: “Real Estate is Local.”
Qualia: The theme of this year’s Future of Real Estate Summit is “Real Estate is Local.” What does that immediately call to mind or mean for you?
Rascoff: It’s tempting to think that this saying isn’t true anymore if you’re looking at real estate from the outside. There are so many huge PropTech companies offering tech solutions to make buying, selling, refinancing, etc., easier, that it can seem like real estate is becoming more homogeneous. But it’s not — the fact that real estate is local is as true as it was when I co-founded Zillow in 2006.
We see this in consumer preferences, who still want a local agent to help them. At Pacaso, the company I co-founded that helps people buy and own shares of second homes, our buyers want that local touch. We work closely with real estate agents because they are the ones who know the local market and micro-neighborhoods.
Qualia: You noted Zillow and Pacaso—two real estate tech companies you co-founded. Real estate has been a common thread throughout your career. What do you think draws you to real estate?
Rascoff: Real estate is such a dynamic, exciting industry. First, the people who are drawn to real estate are just generally good people—they are friendly, hospitable, and kind. Similar to those who are drawn to the hospitality and travel industry, real estate people are the type of people I like to spend time with. Second, home is primal. It is rewarding to be part of an industry that is such an important part of our economy and is also so mission-oriented.
My mom was a real estate agent. I’ve always loved real estate, and my kids and I used to go to open houses for fun. Now, with COVID, we just look at them on Zillow, but still. I’ve always found it fascinating and for such a long time, it was an industry that technology hadn’t really touched. That’s changing, but at its core, it remains a deeply personal transaction.
Qualia: You host a podcast called “Dad, I Have a Question” where you answer your 10-year-old son’s questions about complicated topics. What has the response been for that podcast and which questions have been the most interesting to answer?
Rascoff: The reception has been overwhelming. We have had over 50,000 downloads of our 60 episodes of the podcast from over 20 countries. Many people like to listen with their kids, which I love. My favorite questions are the ones I don’t know the answer to yet because I get to learn something too. Top episodes have been “What is a SPAC?”, “What is a Mortgage?”, “What is Machine Learning?” and “What are Patents?”
Qualia: Any questions from the podcast you think are especially relevant to the real estate industry right now?
Rascoff: We have done a lot of real estate episodes, including “What is rent control?” and “What is a mortgage?”. Our “What is an IPO?” and “What is a SPAC?” episodes are particularly relevant in real estate now since there have been several high-profile PropTech SPACs such as Matterport, Latch, OpenDoor, and Knock. We are going to see lots more PropTech companies in the public markets in the near future.
Qualia: What’s something you’re working on right now that you’re eager to discuss at this year’s Future of Real Estate Summit?
Rascoff: Pacaso! It’s been amazing to see the response from people who really like the solution we’re presenting. COVID has reminded people of the importance of a getaway and of family, and the demand for Pacaso has been incredibly high. There are 30 million second homes in the U.S. and Europe that sit unoccupied 10 or 11 months of the year. And there are millions of people who dream of second homes. Pacaso creates a marketplace for second home ownership, allowing people to buy shares of a home, and experience second homeownership without any of the hassle. People like the savings, and increasingly care a lot about waste — Pacaso is a way to own a second home without leaving it empty for most of the year. And importantly, we generate incremental transactions for real estate agents with whom we partner.
To hear more from Spencer Rascoff, join us at the Future of Real Estate Summit taking place on March 11, 2021