Aug 05, 2022
Housing | Zillow sees slowing demand for ads in housing downturn
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By Patrick Clark | Bloomberg
Zillow Group shares plummeted after the company predicted that a significant contraction in home sales would weigh on the amount of advertising it can sell to real estate agents.
The company, which makes most of its money by helping agents connect with homebuyers, has been riding the housing roller coaster for more than two years, shifting from a sharp slowdown in the early days of the pandemic, to the boom that followed, and now a period of higher mortgage rates and cooling sales.
The ongoing downturn led Zillow to project earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $73 million to $88 million in the third quarter, according to a shareholder letter Thursday. That missed the $170 million analysts were expecting, and Zillow shares fell as much as 11% in trading after New York markets closed.
Zillow wasn’t the only real estate technology company to provide discouraging guidance for the third quarter. Brokerage Redfin Corp. also fell in late trading after the company forecast wider losses than analysts estimated. Opendoor Technologies projected a loss, saying the sharp slowdown in housing demand would push it to cut prices on some of its listings. Its shares rose slightly.
“Agents saw demand go down and longer cycles for their customers to close,” Zillow Chief Financial Officer Allen Parker said on a conference call with investors. “Their natural reaction at a time like this is to reduce their advertising spend somewhat as a protection.”
Zillow, led by Chief Executive Officer Rich Barton, has bounced between business models in a bid to wring greater profits from its massive online audience, which reached 234 million unique visitors per month in the second quarter.
In 2018, the company made an audacious bet on a business called iBuying, predicting that the tech-powered spin on home-flipping would supercharge profits. Zillow’s attempt to rapidly expand the effort faltered, pushing Barton to shutter the business last year in a move he said would protect the company from bigger losses in a future downturn. Related Articles
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Zillow pivoted again, laying plans to build a housing “super app” to integrate tools consumers and agents use to navigate the buying or selling process. The company is adding a new component to that effort, allowing visitors to Zillow’s sites and apps to request a cash offer for their homes from Opendoor.
The arrangement lets Opendoor tap into Zillow’s audience, while helping Barton’s company fulfill consumer demand for a service without putting capital at risk.
“Despite the challenging housing environment that we cannot control,” Barton said on the call, “we are as confident as ever in what we can control.”
News Source: mercurynews.com
Border Patrol Sees Surge in Suicides as Morale Plummets
by Jennie Taer
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has seen four personnel die by suicide in the last two weeks, National Border Patrol Council Vice President At-Large Sergio Moreno, who is part of the agency’s National Suicide Prevention Workforce, revealed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Three Border Patrol agents died by suicide in the two week period, the first two in the Rio Grande Valley sector, the third in the El Paso sector on Sunday and the fourth, a CBP officer, also on Sunday, Moreno told the DCNF. The surge in suicides comes as CBP personnel experience low morale amid record illegal migration ushered in by several Biden administration border and immigration policies.
An increasing number of agents taking their own lives led the agency to hire the first suicidologist, Dr. Kent Corso, to step in at the first half of 2021. Corso is conducting an investigation into the incidents, according to Moreno, who recently traveled with Corso to the Rio Grande Valley sector where he spoke with agents about losing their colleagues.
“Under the current administration, we are not allowed to do the full functions of the Border Patrol, the enforcement aspect,” Moreno said, citing conversations with “distraught” colleagues of the deceased agents.
CBP had a record of over 2.3 million encounters in fiscal year 2022 and over 230,000 at the beginning of fiscal year 2023 due to the Biden administration’s reversal of several Trump-era immigration policies that sought to deter illegal migration and increase deportations. The surge in illegal migration has a direct link to the increase in suicides, according to Moreno.
“It is concerning that two individuals, hardworking Americans, fathers, patriots, law enforcement officers, co-workers and friends took their own lives days apart from the same sector,” Moreno said of the two agents who died by suicide in the Rio Grande Valley sector.
CBP began tracking suicides in fiscal year 2007 and just two years later, suicides peaked at 14, according to Moreno. A Border Patrol agent, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak, echoed complaints Moreno said other agents had expressed.
Having to increasingly release the illegal migrants they once “tracked and arrested” has placed more stress on the agents, the agent told the DCNF.
“Since the Biden administration came into office, we lost our purpose,” the agent said.
“We know the long term effects that this surge of illegal immigration will have on the country. The country will be a larger scale of what sanctuary states have given a glimpse of. The lawlessness created by government-funded support programs will destroy our education and medical structures,” the agent said.
On top of surging suicides, the force has seen an increase in domestic violence situations and alcohol abuse, the agent explained.
“No support program will fix this. We need our purpose back,” the agent concluded.
When agents express mental health struggles, they’re sent to a “fit for duty” program, where they are forced to hand over their badges and guns, Moreno said. During that time, agents are made to work on administrative tasks in a designated area, where it’s obvious to their colleagues that they came forward with thoughts of suicide.
“The workforce sees it as fatal. It’s the guillotine to their career, so they’re afraid,” Moreno said.
“We’re asking that this come to light. Have a program and policies that if an employee comes forward because they’re already struggling, don’t put more stressors on him or her. Don’t shame them. Don’t put them in the corner in public view. You’re just adding to the stress,” he said.
CBP didn’t respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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Jennie Taer is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “U.S. Border Patrol Agents Render Medical Aid to a Migrant” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
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