PHOENIX - With the many real estate websites that are in existence nowadays, it has never been easier to look at homes on the internet, where people can look up their home's current value, see what is for sale in any neighborhood across the country, or get decorating ideas.
Now, one man has tapped into people's real estate obsession, and created "Zillow Gone Wild."
Wealth, prestige and success. Robin Leach capitalized on our love of looking at luxury. Then, beginning in 2000, MTV showed off celebrities’ cribs.
A peek into someone else’s life is appealing. It is a way to escape from your own reality, but to be frank, most Americans are not living in a mansion.
In the digital age, however, it is easier than ever to look up someone’s home.
"People really personalize their homes," Samir Mezrahi said. "It may be tough to re-sell sometimes, but it looks like they’re enjoying it, so it is all good."
With home listings online, people stuck at home during the pandemic and many looking to move, Mezrahi got an idea.
Mezrahi, who works for Buzzfeed, launched Zillow Gone Wild, an Instagram account in December 2020.
"I’m lucky enough to have started it when I did, and for it to have taken off like it has," Mezrahi said.
As of now, the account has 1.6 million followers. It features MLS listings from across the country. Each home has an unusual twist.
Like a home in Cleveland, Ohio with a Jurassic Park vibe…
…Or a pirate ship in Virginia…
…as well as a home in Georgia that is shaped like a guitar.
"One of the [funniest] ones was one in South Carolina that looks like it was blown up like a balloon," Mezrahi said. "Every time I see it, I smile."
A mid-century modern in Florida made Zillow Gone Wild, as well as a semi-normal looking home on the outside in Las Vegas that has a sex dungeon inside. All the homes are for sale, and occasionally, a home in the Phoenix area gets picked up.
Meet Richard Brodie and his sidekick, Watson. Brodie is trying to sell his house in the Ahwatukee Foothills on E. La Mirada Way. The two-story house has a pool and a golf course view.
"I love this neighborhood," Brodie said. "Love living by South Mountain, a hidden gem in the Valley."
In 2014, the British bachelor became obsessed with the game of golf. To go from bogeys to birdies, he got the idea to install a nine-hole putting green, inside his house!
We asked Brodie what the reaction has been from people who’ve never seen his house.
"The people who like golf are like, I don’t see a problem, sign me up," Brodie said.
Instead of ripping the course out, realtor Benjamin Funke with HomeSmart embraced the custom course, and the living room putting green went viral.
"To be featured in the New York Post, Daily Mail, I don’t even know what their advertising rates are, but I’m sure very expensive," Funke said.
Before his house was featured, Brodie didn’t realize how many followed the account.
"It was interesting to see how different houses are all across America," Brodie said.
Not a lot of homes get picked up by Zillow Gone Wild.
"These listings, once they go live, they’re out in the wild," Funke said.
However, this is Funke’s second listing that’s been picked up.
His first, was a bungalow with a bright paint job inside and out in the Garfield District in Phoenix.
The former owner was a DJ who made clothes for exotic dancers. Surprisingly it sold quickly.
"She just fully lived out her fantasy on that one," Funke said.
That is the point. It is your home, so personalize it.
A home in Scottsdale with a little league field in the backyard has been viewed by millions. More than one thousand people commented on a Scottsdale home that had castle décor.
Looking at the homes is fun, but Funke says when you go to sell such a custom home, not everyone will think it is a hole in one.
"It’s sort of a form of entertainment," Funke said. "Viral entertainment that I’m not sure has many real-world consequences on an actual listing."
Today, Mezrahi gets bombarded with MLS listings, and he enjoys sharing them with his audience.
"It has been a lot of fun for me, like I said it brings you joy, and I’m happy to do a good thing on the internet for people,’ Mezrahi said.
A lot of homes on Zillow Gone Wild sell quickly, but the market is changing because of higher mortgage rates, so the putting green home is still for sale right now at $919,900.
Funke believes that if they had put the house on the market just a few months earlier, he believes it would have sold right away. Timing is everything in real estate