A viral TikTok accuses Zillow and its competitors of manipulating the housing market. Here’s what’s really going on

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Are companies like Zillow ZG, -3.25% and Redfin RDFN, +4.35% manipulating home prices by purchasing properties across the country? That’s what one real-estate agent claims in a video that went viral on the social-media platform TikTok — but real-estate experts say the reality is much more complicated. In a video that’s garnered more than 2.4 million views on TikTok, Nevada real-estate agent Sean Gotcher criticizes the “iBuying” business model, where companies buy and sell homes for a profit. In the video, he proposes that a nameless company has a website where many people search for homes “when they’re bored,” and he says that same company “uses that information to go into that ZIP code and start purchasing houses.” In other words, he’s suggesting that companies such as Zillow are using the data they glean from people perusing home listings on their sites to make decisions about which houses to buy
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