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Realtors(R) and Zillow

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English

I have never been a supporter of Zillow over the years. The data is outdated and many times useless. Zillow for years has relied upon driving traffic to generate ad dollars for the site. To drive this traffic, they essentially have been stealing data from various websites that syndicate data from the various local MLS’s. 2-3 years ago, ¬†Zillow launched a massive campaign aimed at creating relationships b/w Zillow and Realtors(R). Zillow wanted to entice agents to advertise on their website in various ways. For example, buyer’s agents could pay to have their info show up on various property pages and listing brokers could pay to have their listings featured, etc… Anyways, this ad campaign was a bit of disaster. Realtors(R) understand what sells a listing… the MLS. (We have listed thousands of properties on zillow over the years and I can not attribute one single sale to the Zillow website) Zillow in turn turned their efforts away from Realtors(R) and directed their efforts at raising money for their IPO, etc… Fast forward to today…Zillow has realized they have a problem. W/out Realtor(R) support, they will never conquer Realtor.com. Within the past 6 weeks, Zillow has hired various individuals ¬†to help with social media and their image amongst Realtors(R). Furthermore, they have also hired the former CEO of ARMLS and Activerain to help bring Realtors(R) and Zillow together.

While I applaud Zillow for recognizing they have a long term problem w/out Realtor(R) support. I can’t understand why they can’t connect Realtors(R) and Zillow together. It’s simple. Realtors(R) despise Realtor.com b/c Realtor.com charges Realtors(R) for the leads their very own listings create on the Realtor.com website. Realtors(R) hate being charged for the business they create for others. (It’s a double punch to the stomach) Zillow needs to find a way to drive buyer traffic with the use of MLS listings. However, they need to find a way to feed these leads back to Realtors(R) w/out making money off of the Realtors(R). They need to focus on driving revenue from some other source. As long as Realtors(R) control the data your website relies upon for traffic… they will have the upper hand.

You could certainly argue that Zillow does not rely upon Realtors(R) for all of their data. Homeowners can add their listing to the Zillow database directly w/out the use of a Realtor(R). The problem… this only accounts for a small fraction of the homes on the market. To be relevant, Zillow doesn’t need a portion of the listings, they need all of them.


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