1. Business

Zillow is bringing its 'instant buying' program to the Tampa Bay area

Joining a crowded field, Zillow is bringing its home buying and selling business to the Tampa Bay market.

The online real estate giant announced Thursday that it will start buying bay area homes through its Zillow Offers program early next year. Homeowners can sell to directly to Zillow, with closing in as little as seven days or as many as 90.

REAL ESTATE COVERAGE: South Tampa home of late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and wife Joan on the market

The Seattle company, which launched Zillow Offers a little over a year ago, said the program has been so popular in the nine markets where it is currently offered that it decided to accelerate its rollout to Tampa Bay, Miami, Orlando and several other metro areas.

"Zillow Offers launched just over a year ago, and we already receive a request for an offer every two minutes, which represents more than $200 million in transaction value per day," Zillow Brand President Jeremy Wacksman said in a statement.

Opendoor, Offerpad and some real estate firms have similar programs in the Tampa Bay area but Zillow's will bring with it far greater name recognition. Home buyers and sellers have long looked to "Zestimates" for estimates of a home's value despite criticism that they often are inaccurate.

REAL ESTASTE COVERAGE: Big newcomer to Tampa Bay's real estate market is bullish on the area's value and 'kitschy-esque' charm

Buying programs — dubbed "iBuying" for instant buying — can be a good option for homeowners who need to sell quickly because of a job loss or sudden move. Sellers, however, sometimes sacrifice price for speed and convenience.

Zillow Offers are now available in Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh and Riverside, Calif.

In each market, Zillow is represented by local real estate agents and brokers during the transactions. The company pays a commission when it buys and sells a home.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.