Colorado real estate group explains why they booted Zillow’s Diverse Solutions

Real Estate Signs. Photo: A. McLin

Why did Metrolist — the largest Multiple Listing Service in Colorado — cut ties with Zillow-owned Diverse Solutions?

Online real estate watchers, including several on GeekWire, have been wondering about the motivations of that decision ever since word spread earlier today.

I was curious as well, so I touched base with Metrolist marketing director Melissa Olson today for an explanation.

Olson tells GeekWire that the decision was borne out of a desire to streamline vendor relationships when it came to Internet Data Exchange (IDX) vendors.

“It is not the Diverse Solutions isn’t a good fit, it is that Diverse Solutions was acquired by Zillow, and our content and … services are not assignable, which means that Diverse Solutions can not just assign a contract to Zillow,” Olson said. “We chose not to add Zillow as a different IDX vendor to our market at this time. We’ve got probably over 100 current IDX vendors in our marketplace, and that is a lot of options for our members.”

Of the more than 4,400 real estate Web sites running an IDX in the Denver metropolitan area, Olson said only about 40 are using Diverse Solutions. All of those members that were using the Diverse Solutions’ product for listing feeds have been individually notified of the changes, she said.

“We have a couple other bigger market players here, and we just decided not to keep adding and adding and adding and growing the list of 100+ vendors,” she said. “Diverse Solutions didn’t have big market share to begin with, and when we looked at our overall offering in terms of vendors we have partnered with, we have a lot of options.”

In Colorado, Olson said that they have a “local favorite” in IDX provider Hillside Software. More than 200 real estate companies are using Hillside’s product, with Olson saying it has a number of unique features. Nonetheless, she said there’s no real leader in terms of IDX providers among the Metrolist membership of 14,000. “We have a lot of diversity,” she said.

Asked why Diverse Solutions wouldn’t be part of that diverse group, Olson reiterated that it was more about paring down vendors.

“It is not a matter of Diverse Solutions, it is really a question of how many vendors can you have, and should the number be unlimited?” she said. “At some point, we have to start taking a look at our current offering and how many vendors really make sense in our marketplace.” Olson noted that they plan to take a closer look at other vendors as well.

She discounted theories that the elimination of Diverse Solutions had to do with Zillow’s growing power in the real estate industry. And she expressed some surprise that the topic had catapulted to a national issue, noting that many of the people who are upset about the issue aren’t located in the Denver area.

“I think the discussion is happening among a small group of people, ” she said.

At the end of the day, Olson said that they decided not to go ahead with Zillow-owned Diverse Solutions “because we have so many other options that are here.”

Previously on GeekWireBacklash continues against Zillow as real estate group cuts ties with Diverse Solutions

 

  • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

    Really? They pick one IDX vendor to suddenly exclude, and it just happens to be Zillow? With a plan to take a closer look at other vendors, but no actual reduction in their vendor list? I don’t buy this explanation for a minute.

    The fact of the matter is that the IDX offering from Diverse Solutions (now Zillow) is one of the higher quality offerings out there, and I’m guessing with Zillow’s resources, it will get nothing but better. I don’t see how this choice benefits their membership or home buyers in the area by excluding just this one vendor.

    While I understand the issues that come with supporting more vendors, that is certainly a manageable issue with proper documentation and tech support, including charges for such support, like they have done here with the NWMLS.

    If you ask me, this feels like a thinly-veiled attempt to keep Zillow out of their membership base, probably spurred on by the large brokers in the area who control the MLS board. Just because their contract isn’t assignable doesn’t mean that someone in authority can’t just sign a new agreement with Zillow.

  • Stevepalmer

    We see this kind of stuff all the time in Montana. Usually when we step in it in a cow pasture

  • Ness Dave

    Typical of Metrolist…1) doesn’t listen to their clients 2) doesn’t serve the wants and needs of their clients 3) employs antiquated business models 4) ignores obvious, glaring technological advances all around them 5) is condescending. 

  • http://StephanieCrawford.net/ Stephanie Crawford-@AgentSteph

    Wow. I don’t buy it either. DS is on the cutting edge of IDX technologies. Of all the vendors to cut… why one of the most innovate in country? It HAS to be the affiliation. 

  • Knox

    Every quote in this article is the opposite of what’s been said via voice by Metrolist to members.

  • Anonymous

    If you think Denver is tough try entering in the Salt Lake City market.  The costs are completely prohibitive to try and do business there.

  • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

    Let’s look at the true motivation of Metrolist in Denver, whose own motivations seem to be carrying the day, rather than focusing on their membership.

    On January 13, they launch their own site that is “similar to search sites Trulia and Zillow but with more accurate and timely housing information”

    http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/sbwire-122499.htm

    On January 23, they announce a partnership where they offer listing website tools via Hillside Software, who they pimp out in this interview. From the content of this article, it appears as though Metrolist stands to profit via reselling this service to their membership.

    http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/sbwire-122499.htm

    On February 6, they sever ties with Zillow who competes directly with the two services mentioned above. Coincidence? Hardly.

  • http://twitter.com/fijiaaron Aaron Evans

    Is Zillow making a comeback?  Or is it that they’re still the most visible target. Redfin & Trulia are better positioned.  But also less of a household name with less money.  I don’t think Redfin is in the Colorado market though.  But this is a shot across the bow for online realty.  Expect to see more MLSes cutting off online services (not associated with NAR) if Zillow doesn’t litigate.

  • Anonymous

    Hmm, could it be that Zillow does for free, what MLS charges for?  Granted, MLS’s data is far more current and in my experience more accurate, but for a free service, it’s hard to argue with Zillow (and I’m sure Real Estate Agents and Brokers have taken notice as buyers are now able to walk into the office with solid knowledge of the market they’re interested in).

    • Malcolm Waring

      MLS data is more current than Zillow by 24 hours, but this is an IDX tool that pulls RETS data that can be as live as they allow.

  • http://www.BendRealEstate.com Bend Oregon Real Estate

    Let’s get down and dirty, and not sugar coat the company name.  Zillow is Diverse Solutions, and Diverse Solutions is Zillow. I would like to now see a show of hands that would welcome Zillow into YOUR MLS??  Hmm… I didn’t think so.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RealEstateGuys Mack McMillan

      You make a valid point. MetroList is one of the most professional and reasonable MLS Boards we deal with at UltimateIDX. I am sure this was a well thought out decision by MetroList to protect their data. MetroList has strict guidelines on the display of their data and rightfully so. It will be interesting to see if other MLS Boards follow suit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jaredritcheydesign Jared Ritchey

       The relationship between the two is concern enough for the industry. They stand in a position to really take away competitive alternatives.

  • http://www.BendRealEstate.com Bend Oregon Real Estate

    This is a re-post from http://www.geekestateblog.com/two-mls-metrolist-and-santa-barbara-boot-diverse-solutionszillow/#comment-436146343 , so I did not have to write the whole thing all over:

    Zillow is a TROJAN HORSE. Fact: Zillow wants traffic from my real estate
    site (and every other Realtors site) so they can SELL these same
    clients back to me through the Zillow Agent advertising program. If
    Zillow doesn’t generate ad revenue, they are out of business! What is
    one of their methods?

    ZILLOW WIDGETS! Brad (from Zillow), If Zillow is on the agent’s side – why does EVERY Zillow widget ever created LINK back to Zillow?
    Zillow wants my clients!!! If I am DUMB ENOUGH to put a Zillow
    link/widget (same thing) on my site: 1) I am really telling the Google
    algorithm that Zillow is more of an authority on real estate in my local
    area then I am, and 2) I have just lost my hard earned traffic from MY
    personal website, and directed this potential buyer/seller to Zillow, so
    Zillow can SELL this same client back to me, or any other agent through
    the ad program.

    Zillow purchased Diverse Solutions so they could
    intentionally access the Realtors database, while extending their reach
    into thousands of Realtors personal websites. It was a calculated,
    strategic move to access MLS data by Zillow. Diverse Solutions is a Wolf
    in sheep clothing. DIVERSE SOLUTIONS IS ZILLOW, AND ZILLOW IS DIVERSE
    SOLUTIONS. What a brilliant move on Zillow’s behalf! Absolutely
    brilliant.

    Zillow’s Data is BAD, but Zillow’s data is GREAT…
    once they obtain direct access to a local MLS feed. Diverse Solutions
    provides this bridge. Diverse Solutions is vitally important to Zillow
    if they are to have access to accurate, timely MLS data – in order to
    gain consumer confidence.

    Agents, make no mistake. Zillow needs
    the traffic, and they need to generate ad revenue to survive on Wall
    street. Zillow is concerned about THEIR survival, not yours, and they
    will give you every widget under the sun on the Diverse Solutions
    platform to help them capture your hard earned traffic. “Oh, but you can
    turn this feature off” you say? Sure, but how many agents are tech
    Savvy enough to know how much these widgets actually hurt them?

    Brad (from Zillow)…
    I have an idea. can I make a really cool real estate widget, give it to
    you (Zillow) for FREE, and have you put it on your Zillow website? It
    will be really beneficial to your clients, and if it is good for your
    clients, it’s good for Zillow, right? Oh, don’t worry that it has a
    “do-follow” link back to my personal real estate! It’s FREE, so you have
    nothing to lose. Now, when can we get started?

    ZILLOW IS DIVERSE SOLUTIONS. DIVERSE SOLUTIONS IS ZILLOW.

  • Malcolm Waring

    I don’t buy the Metrolist reason either, be we have a new agreement with DS/Zillow that states that IDX data is only for use in IDX and not to be sent to Zillow.

    Zillow really shot themselves in both feet when they started contacting every MLS and telling them that brokers were asking for a direct feed to Zillow using DS.

    This was nonsense of course, and now they are contacting everyone again trying to do damage control.

    I would certainly not remove the ability for brokers to pick the tool of their choice if the vendor was not violating anything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1538468594 Ron Goodman

    As a real estate website consultant, and also a Denver real estate broker and Metrolist member, it saddens me to see such a strong IDX solution removed from the local market. I support DS for clients in other markets, and they have a great product.

    However, as I have been looking at several of the local sites that currently use DS products, I am finding a number of what seem to be Metrolist IDX display compliance violations on a few of them. This is based on what I know about the compliance requirements stated in the very detailed vendor and member IDX agreements, which is substantial because I have helped my own IDX vendor and its local clients meet those same requirements. I don’t know what may or may not have transpired in that regard between Metrolist and its members and DS. I do know that 100% compliance, and stiff fines for non-compliance, has been a Metrolist requirement levied on all vendors and members since the very beginnings of the IDX movement.

    I have also seen one old blog discussion, started a couple of years ago, that seems to indicate that the DS WP plugin code could be modified, and compliance potentially compromised, by programmers working for their real estate agent clients. My own experience with the DS WP plugin also tells me that even if DS’s standard WP plugin is fully compliant out of the box, because it it uses php code residing on each website’s server, it’s possible it could be compromised by improper modifications to the plugin code. As a custom WP plugin developer myself, I also know that it is possible to
    customize and rename a plugin so the normal WP plugin version checking
    and new version download processes would be bypassed. This means that it is also possible that some DS clients, especially those with customized plugin code, may not be downloading and installing newer versions of the plugin that may address specific compliance requirements. I would be interested to know if DS has any controls in place to insure that when compliance issues are found and fixed in their WP plugin, that site owners would be forced to install the new version before any IDX data could be displayed. An update on all this from someone at DS would be interesting.

    I also personally know of at least one other IDX vendor who also had a WordPress based product / plugin, that had to exit the Denver market because of compliance violation issues. They are no longer on the approved IDX vendor list. We didn’t see a public uproar on that one because they were a small player, with only a few local customers. But IDX vendors do come and go here on a fairly regular basis. This case is obviously different primarily because of who the players are, the number of existing customers, and the depth of integration that the DS product offers and a few of its local customers have taken advantage of, which for some, means a much more difficult transition.

    I would expect that one of the major considerations if other IDX vendors are to be removed from the Metrolist approved list, would be their past compliance history. The ones that should worry are those that have a history of lots of compliance issues, who have not always submitted their products or client’s custom IDX designs and implementations for the required compliance review and approval, or that may not have been as willing and quick to fix those issues, or whose products can be modified by users or their contract programmers and are not fully “locked down” in regards to compliance, or who have not been disclosing their complete local customer list to Metrolist as required. Those vendors could and should be the first to go, if they are not already. This would not be a new policy on the part of Metrolist, just more stringent enforcement of existing policy, which IMO would be a good thing.

  • Lance Myers

    For all Real Estate Agents Agents affected by this, check out My Buying Buddy. They are offering 25% off setup fees for all Diverse Solutions clients, and I’ve always had nothing but great thing to say about their IDX solution! http://blog.mybuyingbuddy.com/denver-metrolist-cuts-ties-with-idx-vendor-diverse-solutions-real-estate-agents-searching-for-answer/