When Will Zillow Replace Our MLSs?

Is Zillow, the #2 real estate website, slowly positioning itself to replace our MLSs?. The first sign appeared when Zillow acquired Diverse Solutions in November 2011. I stumbled upon this news while speaking with Diverse Solutions about providing the IDX (Internet Data Exchange)  for our company website. The IDX allows Real Estate Brokers to publicly display MLS properties on their website. Diverse Solutions does not currently have access to my MLS, but if they did, my company would have selected them to provide our IDX. They have some impressive features and I was disappointed we could not use them.

The second sign appeared February 14th, when Robert Bemis joined Zillow as their VP of Partner Relations. Bemis was chief executive officer of Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, Inc. (ARMLS), one of the largest and most influential MLS in the nation. Bemis said, “I am looking forward to the challenge of building bridges to Zillow’s current and potential partners in the industry, including MLSs, Associations of REALTORS®, brokers, agents, appraisers, title companies, mortgage lenders and other service providers.

Here’s my concern. Realtor.com, and other sites, pull information from MLSs around the country through Broker Reciprocity. This information is available to the public via their website or mobile App. Realtor.com will only display most of the property features and only 4 images of a property for free. A premium plan must be purchased, by the broker, for an additional 25 images to appear on Realtor.com. Not all Real Estate Brokers agree with Realtor.com’s Fees, especially when Realtor.com receives their information and charges them to display it. But, we’ve come to accept this relationship as a cost of doing business.

What does Zillow have in store for us? Is Zillow working towards becoming a public MLS? With their recent hire and acquisition, Zillow should announce to the Real Estate Community their agenda. Do you think Zillow is trying to replace our MLS?

6 Comments on “When Will Zillow Replace Our MLSs?”

  1. Most all involved in the historically traditional side of the business are at risk – the bursting of the real estate bubble has insured this inevitable.

    Only time will tell what the future will look like – the disruption and innovation is happening now. I’m not sure why Zillow will be the winner long-term – we know they are the leader in the clubhouse now – but it’s only the qualifying round.

    As brokers, it’s probably in our best interest to get out of the status-quo box and start thinking like the game-changers – it’s not too late, after all, we are the ones getting the listings and working with the buyers – the Portals will starve if we don’t feed them.


  2. Hi – Brad from Zillow here. I can only speak for Zillow here, we are not trying to replace your MLS. What many folks seem to forget is that Zillow offers a wide variety of tools and services to both consumers and the real estate professional.

    For Example:

    Zillow also hosts 100,000,000+ other homes not for sale on our site. 30,000,000 people visited the site last month and many were not just looking at listings.

    Consumers come to Zillow to find out about mortgage information, see what’s sold in the neighborhood or around the country, check out demographics, photos, use calculators, get home improvement tips, seek advice and join discussions etc. And yes, thousands even come to find an agent or lender just to write a review on their services and in many cases, hire them to help with a loan or buy/sell their homes.

    For some detailed clarification on some myths and rumors that seem to surface from time to time, feel free to take a look at these published articles, this will give a greater insight on the actual facts: http://www.zillow.com/blog/category/professionals/

    My door is always open if you should need any assistance or have any questions.

  3. Zillow’s purchase of Diverse Solutions was a calculated strategy at gaining DIRECT access to a variety of MLS organizations through Diverse Solutions 5000+ Members. You don’t think Zillow spent almost $8,000,000 on this purchase to “help the agents” do you? Zillow’s listing data is poor, and always will be without a direct feed to an MLS organization. Diverse Solutions bridges this gap. Brilliant move on Zillow’s behalf, but there is a lot of controversy about canceling Diverse Solutions contracts around the country because of their new relationship with Zillow. Zillow is just repackaging the Realtors data, and selling it back to these agents in the form of advertising.

    Zillow NEEDS the Realtors (and the Realtors data!), the Realtors do not need Zillow.

    • Bend Oregon – while we continue looking for and implementing ways to better serve both the real estate industry professional and consumers, there will most likely be continued accusations and comments regarding our intentions leading to more false information and uninformed individuals making assumptions and incorrect claims.

      Your statement, “Zillow is just repackaging the Realtors data, and selling it back to these agents in the form of advertising.” is one example of such myths and rumors.

      Any and ALL agents can syndicate their clients homes and listings on Zillow from a multitude of sources absolutely free. Advertising your business, personal brand, or company on Zillow is an entirely separate issue. Premier Agents on Zillow are indeed advertising to their local consumer prospects, but their listings on Zillow is still a free service regardless of their real estate marketing and advertising strategy.

      Companies like Howard Hanna (4th largest in the Country) who just partnered with Zillow know and understand this, and clearly want to provide the best possible service and exposure for their clients properties.

      Regarding your last sentence, “Zillow NEEDS the Realtors (and the Realtors data!), the Realtors do not need Zillow.”

      Zillow needs Realtors, yes, and many Realtors WANT Zillow as a great tool and service to connect and convert more business in their local markets. I don’t want any readers here to think that agents and lenders aren’t also getting calls everyday on the other 100million homes “not listed” that are available on our website.

      Along with millions of others in the Country, I think Zillow is providing a great service to both sides creating the ultimate win-win, but then I am a bit partial since I work with both consumers, and agents, and of course Zillow. 🙂

  4. As a Broker, the following is my personal opinion:
    I have never found Zillow to contain much accurate information. When people ask my opinion I tell them that the most accurate & up to date information is through our local MLS. Zillow seems plagiarize our MLS & our local taxing authority information & tries to combine the information. The local taxing authority contains a wealth of inaccuracies. Zillow perpetuates these inaccuracies as though they were fact. When asked I caution them to read Zillow, if they must, with an enormous grain of salt. If Zillow tries to take over our local MLS (one of the country’s largest), I will fight it with any influence my MLS dues & vote can bring to bear. My belief is that if people want to know the truth they should contact their Realtor or local MLS site & not Zillow or other such entity.

  5. I would give all my MLS $ to a company that would act like a data provider and marketing super power and not the Realtor police of my listing and company procedures. I think the MLS’s have lost their way. An objective 3rd party would be a welcomed change of pace without any Realtor fingers in it at all. Bring it on!

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