Scraping Zillow: A Detailed Guide to Extract Real Estate Listings with Python

Introduction

The real estate market is one of the most dynamic fields, where data scraping plays its major role not only for real estate business owners and agencies but also for regular customers. When we need to make some decision regarding buying or renting properties, the first thing we should do is a comparative analysis based on price, type of house, its size, location, etc.

Therefore, we’re going to scrape the leading real estate marketplace called Zillow. There are several paid Zillow data scrapers in the market that you can buy and use, but in this article, we are going to scrape Zillow with the help of Python. So, if you have some coding skills and do not want to pay the extra money, let’s move forward to learn how to download data from Zillow.

Scraping Zillow by DataOx

Why Choose Python

As we’ve mentioned above, if you have some coding skills and a bit of knowledge about web scraping, then you can develop your Zillow data scraper to extract the required data from Zillow. You can use any programming language to handle HTML files, but Python is widely used for developing scrapers. Some facts:

  • BeautifulSoup and Scrapy are the most popular scraping-friendly frameworks based on Python.
  • BeautifulSoup library provides a fast and highly effective data extraction.
  • Python supports XPath.
  • Great idioms are provided for searching, navigating, and modifying the parse tree.
  • Other advanced web scraping libraries are available.

Scraping Zillow Using Python and LXML

Python tools you will need

For scraping Zillow with Python, it is required to have Python 3 and Pip installed. Follow the instructions below for the purpose

As we are using Python 3, it is also required to install the following packages for downloading and parsing the HTML code. Here are the package requirements:

Common steps

We are going to search and scrape Zillow data based on a specific postal code: 02128.

Screenshot from Zillow by DataOx

The whole scraping process contains the following steps:

Screenshot from Zillow search bar by DataOx
  1. Conduct a search on Zillow by inserting the postal code.
  2. Get the search results URL https://www.zillow.com/homes/02128_rb/.
  3. Download HTML code through Python Requests.
  4. Parse the page through LXML.
  5. Export the extracted data to a CSV file.

Running the Zillow data scraper

Let’s name the script zillow.py that will be used for the script name in a command line.

Zillow data scraper by DataOx

So, to get the newest listings, we should run an appropriate script to sort the relevant arguments for the specific zip code.

Sorting required arguments script by DataOx

In the final step, a CSV file will be created in the same folder as the script.

Scraping Zillow Using Python and BeautifulSoup

In this part, we’ll just go through some useful insights that you can use while scraping Zillow.

Required libraries

For BeautifulSoup you need to install the required libraries, which can be done through the requirements.txt file. Just input the complete list in the file and run the pip install requirements.txt file.

Installing Python libraries by DataOx

Bypassing captchas

Like many websites, Zillow also throws captchas. That’s why while deploying a request.get(url) function, it is required to add headers to the request function. See the below example:

Bypassing captchas by DataOx

Looping through URLs

To create variables, there are many ways to loop through URLs. Let’s try the simplest one. So, if you are planning to extract 5 pages’ data, you can create 5 soup variables and give them a unique title as in the below example.

Looping through URLs by DataOx

Formatting data

To make the extracted data more readable, just make some formatting jobs. So, we are going to:

  • Convert columns
  • Rearrange columns
  • Drop null rows
Formatting Data by DataOx

Summary

Once you decide to scrape Zillow keep in mind that it uses anti-scraping techniques like captchas, IP blocking, and honeypot traps to prevent its data from scraping. Already skilled scraper builders can overcome them, but for newbies, it can be a challenge.

At DataOx we are always happy to help you with professional advice regarding extracting real estate data or offer you a customized Zillow scraper that would meet your business needs. Schedule a free consultation with our expert and find out how web scraping can help your real estate business grow.

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