'Zillow Gone Wild' brings wacky real estate listings to HGTV (2024)

The Golden Saxophone House, featured on HGTV's new series Zillow Gone Wild. HGTV hide caption

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'Zillow Gone Wild' brings wacky real estate listings to HGTV (2)

The Golden Saxophone House, featured on HGTV's new series Zillow Gone Wild.

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The real estate social media space is packed with influencers focusing on specific niches like luxury mansions, mid-century moderns or inexpensive yet promising fixer-uppers.

Within this crowded universe, Zillow Gone Wild is a place to go if you're in the market for, say, a home in Kansas City, Mo., shaped like a UFO; a striking, angular residence in Kalamazoo, Mich., designed in the late 1940s by Frank Lloyd Wright; or a recently built cruise ship with close to 3,000 bedrooms. (Yes, there is an actual Zillow listing for this property.)

"Waking up to an ocean view in the actual ocean is the new best way to wake up," says Samir Mezrahi, Zillow Gone Wild's creator, in his deadpan TikTok commentary on this particularly mind-boggling property listing.

@zillowgonewildFrank Lloyd Wright house for sale in Kalamazoo,MI for under $1 million!!#franklloydwright#zillowgonewild#realestate#foryou♬ Epic Music(863502)-Draganov89

Mezrahi's prominent account, which has several million followers across platforms, has now been spun off into an equally wild reality TV show. The nine-episode series premiered on HGTV Friday, and is out now on Max.

As on social media, the Zillow Gone Wild TV show is aimed at a general audience and focuses on homes that defy everyday expectations in some way — whether visible from the outside in the architecture, or hidden inside as part of the home decor.

"It has to be something we've pretty much never seen before," says Mezrahi, a former social media director at Buzzfeed, in an interview with NPR.

Setting a "wild" tone

The first segment of the first episode sets the tone: Homeowner Andrew Flair shows off the converted U.S. military missile launch facility in York, Neb. The unusual property has very thick steel doors and no windows.

The exterior of a home converted from a disused missile solo in York, Neb. HGTV hide caption

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The exterior of a home converted from a disused missile solo in York, Neb.

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"It's all underground, covered in concrete, and if, for some reason, a bomb goes off, you'll be safe," Flair says on the show.

And in episode three, homeowner Kitty Reign tours viewers around the Pirates of the Caribbean-themed residence in Las Vegas she's selling. This swashbuckler's paradise comes with a decorative wooden helm ("Everybody plays with it!") and a tavern ("Kind of our own little secret pirate nightclub!")

Hosted by comedian Jack McBrayer, who played Kenneth in 30 Rock, the show features 24 homes from around the country either up for sale or recently sold. But only one of them will be crowned the country's "wildest" at the end of the series, as assessed by HGTV executives. Viewers who correctly guess the winning home can enter a pool for the chance to win $25,000.

Kitty Reign and her wife, Jennifer, show host Jack McBrayer around their Pirates of the Caribbean-themed house, as seen on HGTV's new series Zillow Gone Wild. HGTV hide caption

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'Zillow Gone Wild' brings wacky real estate listings to HGTV (6)

Kitty Reign and her wife, Jennifer, show host Jack McBrayer around their Pirates of the Caribbean-themed house, as seen on HGTV's new series Zillow Gone Wild.

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The judging criteria include creativity, commitment to a concept or theme and a quality McBrayer describes as "wackadoo."

"That special thing that sets this property apart," says McBrayer on the show. "We reward impracticality."

The growth of an American pastime

Ogling real estate listings on social media has become an enormously popular American pastime in recent years. Saturday Night Live even did a skit about the trend in 2021. ("The pleasure you once got from sex now comes from looking at other people's houses.")

Saturday Night Live produced a skit lampooning the trend for browsing real estate listings on social media in 2021.

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Mezrahi, who's based in New York, says he has long made a hobby of idly browsing Zillow. He started Zillow Gone Wild as a side project in the fall of 2020, knowing it would probably catch on. Mezrahi initially launched it only on Instagram, but soon expanded his offering to Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and a newsletter.

"It was, like, prime pandemic. Everyone's working from home. Companies are saying you can live wherever you want," Mezrahi says. "So people are moving, thinking about moving, or browsing Zillow just as a bored-on-your-phone thing. So I kind of felt like there was an audience of people out there that are also doing this."

The rise of TV and online channels devoted to home buying and home improvement, together with the increasingly elaborate social media presence of individual real estate brokers promoting their listings, have further fed the trend.

"This is a time when a lot of people are thinking about where and how we want to live," says Zillow's home trends expert, Amanda Pendleton, in an interview with NPR. "And these social media accounts captured our imagination and redefined what a home can be."

"Wild" listings can be challenging for real estate brokers

That "imagination capturing" quality is what makes Zillow Gone Wild so compelling on TikTok and TV.

But when it comes to actually selling a property, eccentric architecture and festive home decor aren't necessarily virtues.

"As a real estate broker, you kind of get nervous about that, because the resale value is not the greatest when you're making it your own," says San Francisco Bay Area-based realtor Ria Cotton in an interview with NPR. "It may not be liked by other people."

Host Jack McBrayer taking in the sights of the "Golden Saxophone House." HGTV hide caption

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Host Jack McBrayer taking in the sights of the "Golden Saxophone House."

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While having a marketable property is preferable, Cotton admits the popularity of social media accounts like Zillow Gone Wild shows there's a growing appetite among homebuyers and potential homebuyers for the "wackadoo."

"I think more and more people are kind of bored of the cookie-cutter way of doing things," Cotton says.

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Case in point: An unusual music-themed home in Berkeley, Calif., that Cotton recently brokered, featured in Zillow Gone Wild.

The facade of the "Saxophone House" is dominated by two massive, gold saxophone-shaped columns. On the TV show, new homeowner Adanté Pointer proudly shows off the gold treble clef ornaments on the balcony railings indoors.

"The gold accents really make it stand out," Pointer says appreciatively.

The smooth jazz vibes and bling of the Saxophone House might not be for everyone. But Pointer says it's perfect for him.

"I am an attorney, and oftentimes, people come to me to make a statement on their behalf," he says on the show. "And when you look at the outside of this home, it's definitely a statement piece."

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In an interview with NPR, TV show host McBrayer says if visiting all of the homes featured in the Zillow Gone Wild TV series taught him anything, it's that even the wildest of homes won't sit empty forever.

"For every house out there that is just head-to-toe rainbow-colored, there is going to be a buyer. For every home that is attached to the underside of a bridge, there's going to be a buyer," McBrayer says. "There's a lid for every pot."

'Zillow Gone Wild' brings wacky real estate listings to HGTV (2024)

FAQs

Who is behind Zillow Gone Wild? ›

Meet Samir Mezrahi, Creator of Zillow Gone Wild. Zillow Gone Wild has gone from a social media account sharing unique real estate listings to a brand-new show on HGTV debuting on May 3.

How much did Zillow lose flipping houses? ›

Zillow Group Z 3.21%increase; green up pointing triangle 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.

Why does Zillow not show all houses? ›

This is one of the most common reasons that certain houses do not show up on Zillow. If a property is unlisted, or rather it is privately listed because the owner didn't want to put the listing up publicly, you may find that the property will not appear on Zillow.

How do you get your house blurred on Zillow? ›

Click on the tile for your home to load the property page. If you have not already claimed your home on Zillow, please follow these steps. Once you have claimed your home, click on the Edit Facts icon from the Owner View of the property page. Click the check box for Hide photos displayed on your home's Zillow page.

Who really owns Zillow? ›

Barton owns 15.8 million shares, including more than 700,000 he bought in November 2018 when the stock was at a low point. Barton started Zillow with four colleagues from his last company, Expedia, and owns the largest individual stake.

Why is Zillow not always accurate? ›

Zestimates may not reflect improvements, mistakes in property taxes paid, or exceptions to tax assessments. Since Zestimate also accounts for turnover rate, estimates for homes kept long periods of time may not be accurate.

Can you hide an address on a Zillow listing? ›

Each listing posted directly via our websites must include a complete address, including the street number. If you do not want to disclose the address, you must use a syndication service that allows you to opt out of displaying the address online.

Why does my Zillow listing say off market? ›

What does off market mean? Your home can be considered off market in one of two ways. First, your home is off the market if you have an expired MLS listing. But off market also refers to a home that may indeed be for sale, but it isn't listed on the MLS.

Should you blur your house on Google Maps? ›

It gives anyone a free ticket to examine parts of your home without actually being there in person. Sure, someone could simply walk or drive by your home and scope out where you live, but Google Maps lets them do it easily -- from their couch. Anyone with a phone or computer can do it.

How do you remove pictures of your home from the internet? ›

You'll need to contact the listing agent for removal.

So how do you get the photos taken down? “To do this, you will need to contact the seller's agent who you purchased the house from,” he explains.

Why can't I delete photos from Zillow? ›

Why Can't I Delete or Edit Photos from Zillow? Deleting photos from Zillow is impossible as the platform is designed to showcase properties and provide an in-depth look at a property listing. Photos are intended to remain on Zillow as they provide potential buyers with an accurate and realistic image of the property.

Who owns the most shares of Zillow? ›

Largest shareholders include Caledonia (Private) Investments Pty Ltd, Vanguard Group Inc, BlackRock Inc., VGSIX - Vanguard Real Estate Index Fund Investor Shares, Independent Franchise Partners LLP, NAESX - Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund Investor Shares, State Of Wisconsin Investment Board, VTSMX - Vanguard Total Stock ...

Who did Zillow merge with? ›

Late in 2023, real estate giant Zillow made headlines with their announcement of a massive $400M+ acquisition of Follow Up Boss, now FUB, one of the largest customer relationship management softwares (CRMs) in the real estate industry.

Where did Zillow go wrong? ›

However, the Zillow Zestimate only considers the property's location and general characteristics. For these reasons, Zillow prices are inaccurate for many New York City homes. Too many variables go into evaluating the fair market value that an algorithm can't quickly analyze.

Can you get pictures taken off Zillow? ›

Yes, you can remove photos from Zillow. You can do so from the listing page of the home in question by selecting the “Edit Listing” option and then selecting the “Photos” option.

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