Zillow Seeks to Syndicate IDX Listings to Zillow

Dec 22, 2011  |  Michael Wurzer

One of our MLS customers has reported that Zillow is seeking permission from MLSs to syndicate listings they now possess through the acquisition of Diverse Solutions.  The email forwarded states, in part:

Also, something we were not expecting is coming up. We are starting to get  inquiries from agents and brokers that are Diverse Solutions and Zillow customers wondering if we can take THEIR listings from the IDX feed we maintain for them and syndicate them to Zillow.com.  The benefit to them is that their listings would be 100% up to date at all times and they won’t have to do anything to maintain their listings.

Since we are receiving these requests we would like to know if this syndication would be allowed.

Of course, this move by Zillow isn’t surprising and likely was a key motive behind the Diverse acquisition.  I’m curious if other MLSs have received a similar approach from Zillow and, if so, whether your MLS is allowing the syndication.

Update: Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff addresses this topic on his own blog.

10 Responses to “Zillow Seeks to Syndicate IDX Listings to Zillow”

  1. Max says:

    Surprise, surprise!!! Zillow is “white, fluffy and innocent”, “unexpectedly” stumbled on a “load” of “customer requests” to syndicate listings directly from the MLS. That and “Democratic People’s” as in “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” have a similar smell to it (if you ask me).

  2. No, we got a notification from DiverseSolutions letting us know that they were purchased by Zillow but could they still get the IDX feed and nothing would change. So I responded that the feed was only for IDX and specifically not for syndication.

    Seriously, it’s hard enough to keep track of the flow with two primary syndication feeds, as well as a couple of other small ones like Adicio and The Real Estate Book that we set up locally (but happen to have a few good channels the others don’t provide).

    The way I understand it is that the downstream syndication partners/channels don’t even speak RETS and have a completely different protocol.

  3. ron stephan says:

    We have been approached by Diverse as well. Since we already send all of our listings to Zillow via ListHub this request is causing us to rethink our entire syndication process. We are already providing too much free support to Zillow, Trulia etc. Answering complaints about listing data being changed, not looking right or being mapped incorrectly…..I guess Zillow may want to decide whether they still want all of our listings or they only want the listings of the 20 agents they do websites for. The whole new process seems a bit ridiculous.

  4. Yes, it’s lots of work getting the data right all the way through to the end. I don’t mind doing it as long as it is a permanent fix.

    Mapping has been our biggest issue since our addresses do not geocode correctly. The good news is that as soon as the Tax ID is entered into flexmls, the map coordinates are pulled right in from county tax data and the property is mapped perfectly 99.99% of the time.

    We also send the lat/long coordinates out with with all of our feeds so there is no excuse for our listings not to appear correctly on maps.

    It falls apaart when some of the destinations attempt to geocode based on the address and ignore what we send them. Much to my surprise, this includes r.com so right now they are updating all of our listings monthly until they get a permanent fix in place. I had to go through this with a few others like Trulia but we are making progress in the long run.

  5. Right now, primarily thanks to the way FBS has implemented the interface, I feel brokers, agents and the MLS have pretty good control over where each listing goes.

    You can turn off r.com, point2, listhub, and a couple of others individually. One can also choose individual destinations on point2 and listhub but those interfaces need improvement, especially concerning the resyndication issue.

    I’m not sure that adding every single destination inside flexmls would be a good thing.

  6. We do allow syndication to Zillow as a Broker option. The MLS facilitates the process the Broker then opts-in for all their listings. We felt this was a balance between providing a service to our participants & not providing “free” content to Zillow. We have taken a similar approach with several other websites.

  7. Hi, Greg from Zillow here.

    That email extract Michael quotes is correct. A number of brokers who currently send feeds to Zillow, have asked if we can post listings data from the Diverse Solutions database to Zillow and Yahoo! Real Estate (which Zillow exclusively provides listings data to).

    The concept is that by directly posting listings data from MLS sources, we will deliver more accurate and more timely data. We process thousands of broker feeds daily and there can be 24 hrs lag from when an agent enters data, to when it fully populates to Zillow under the current feed based process. This alternative approach would eliminate that time lag and ensure that the data sourced from MLSs, trumps that from other sources on Zillow’s site, mobile apps and on Yahoo! Real Estate.

    We are exploring this idea with a few MLSs and brokers right now. To be very clear, we will only consider this idea with explicit permission/formal approval of both the participating MLS and broker – for that specific broker’s listings.

    Drop me a note directly if you are an MLS or brokerage exec and want to chat more about this – my email is gregs at zillow.com

    Thanks,

    Greg

  8. Hi, Greg from Zillow here.

    That email extract Michael quotes is correct. A number of brokers who currently send feeds to Zillow, have asked if we can post listings data from the Diverse Solutions database to Zillow and Yahoo! Real Estate (which Zillow exclusively provides listings data to).

    The concept is that by directly posting listings data from MLS sources, we will deliver more accurate and more timely data. We process thousands of broker feeds daily and there can be 24 hrs lag from when an agent enters data, to when it fully populates to Zillow under the current feed based process. This alternative approach would eliminate that time lag and ensure that the data sourced from MLSs, trumps that from other sources on Zillow¹s site, mobile apps and on Yahoo! Real Estate.

    We are exploring this idea with a few MLSs and brokers right now. To be very clear, we will only consider this idea with explicit permission/formal approval of both the participating MLS and broker ­ for that specific broker¹s listings.

    Drop me a note directly if you are an MLS or brokerage exec and want to chat more about this ­ my email is gregs at zillow.com

    Thanks, Greg

  9. JORBET says:

    Well I guess I’m going to do it – I’m breaking my long standing rule regarding not participating in these public forums because I think someone needs to get this perspective out there….. so here goes:

    Diverse Solutions is a fabulous IDX platform. Probably one of the best. That’s why Zillow bought them. In spite of how good Diverse Solutions is and how much some of our members want to use them, our MLS appears to be the only one so far who said “no we will not allow the transfer of our contracts from Diverse Solutions to Zillow” and we are essentially “breaking up” with Diverse Solutions. Why?
    In case you don’t believe it yet, Zillow is the enemy. Zillow has been and is continuing to position itself to do to the Real Estate industry what Expedia and Travelocity did to the travel agency business. The friend of my enemy is my enemy. Any actions that Real Estate Professionals take that promote, enhance, or expand Zillow’s footprint or influence in the industry (like giving data to an affiliated company – Diverse Solutions) are self defeating. It is even worse than the whole listing syndication business but that’s another story.
    So why are all the other MLS’s going along with it? Simple. They are afraid to say no. You see there is now a lot of competition between Associations and MLS’s which has been exacerbated by NAR’s refusal to provide any kind of territorial or boundary protection (even though most/all other franchisor’s do) and it has created an environment of fear. MLS’s and Associations are afraid to say no to anything for fear that their neighbor will say yes and take members (aka: money) away from them. So despite the wisdom or NOT, of giving away information to syndicators, allowing Zillow to use Diverse Solutions to expand their footprint, or any number of things that have taken place in the last 5-10 years, most of the industry is just being swept along with the tide.
    If you look at the people pushing these new “trends” it is interesting to note that most are not the typical realtor that serves clients in the purchase and sale of properties regularly. On the contrary the people pushing the industry away from the “guy on the street” are folks with vested interest in the peripheral businesses, huge Corporate Brokerages whose main concern is shareholder return, and certain people in the industry who have found this to be an easier way to make money than actually selling real estate.
    Luckily our Association and MLS are in a rather unique position geographically so we do not have the same pressure from neighboring Association or MLS’s regarding our members. Therefore I believe we can take a much more objective look at these things and really try to make the decision that is best for our members and their futures (long term), and not make decisions based on what is going to protect (or not threaten) our membership numbers and revenue stream. Don’t even get me started with the argument that “The consumer wants or demands it”. That is a bunch of hogwash. Anyone that is that worried about the consumer should work for free because that is what the consumer really wants. And don’t start with the “we need to get the info out there in as many places as possible” baloney either. How many websites can someone look at in one day? If I type any city’s name and real estate in the google search bar I will get hundreds or thousands of sites that all have the entire MLS to search from. And they are agent sites – Hooray!!!!! The information is out there just fine thank you.
    It is my humble opinion that the rush to do anything and everything that comes along regarding putting (what at least was at one time) valuable data out to anyone and everyone who wants it for free, is going to eventually (maybe sooner than some people think) suck the value right out of the real estate world as we know it. Some may say it is inevitable but I say why help it along? Anyone who stands in the way of the tide seems to be labeled with assertions of (I’m sure I will be the recipient of this) unaware, uninformed, afraid of change, lack of vision, etc. I, however believe it is the people who are blindly following the trends, and allowing all the third party ventures like Zillow, Trulia, List Hub, Point 2, and a host of others to use their data for free, diminish the perceived value of the MLS data by making it “common”, and who thereby the cheapen the role of the real estate professional who are unaware at best and downright disingenuous at worst. The rest of the “typical agents” are being led like lambs to the slaughter by those with vested interests in capitalizing on the foundation that organized real estate built over the past 100 years.
    The cows are out of the barn. You can get on your horse, round ‘em up and get ‘em back in the barn, or you can just figure they are gone and you can’t do anything about it. It is data, cut the feed. Protect your members’ best interests. Treat the data like the valuable commodity it is, and the role of the REALTOR® like the valuable professional service it should be.

  10. Jamie says:

    Hello fellow Realtors! Its probably to late but you guys missed what our local and national boards do to our industry. While it might sounds great that if a company could have access to our MLS information they could then broadcast these listings around the world to millions of potential users on the surface. The fact that once these companies got our listings, (the ones that YOU worked hard for) they would turn around and now sell us back our OWN listing information for a FEE they would allow our company information, contact information and your photo to be posted next to your listing. REALLY?! This is information we gave to them so our boards could make a few more dollars and sell it on the fact that we will have so much more exposure.

    Am I the only one who feels and sees this as a problem?