Zillow launched its new “coming soon” feature earlier this month to much fanfare, noting at the time that it would provide “unparalleled marketing exposure to the more than 81 million home shoppers who visit Zillow every month.”
But there’s one place where home shoppers won’t be seeing the “Coming Soon” listings: Zillow’s hometown of Seattle.
None of these listings have been posted on Zillow in Seattle since the launch of the service on June 12.
The Northwest Multiple Listing Service — an association of more than 21,000 real estate agents in Western Washington — actually forbids agents from engaging in the pre-marketing of properties. In other words, agents can’t drum up interest in a property before it hits the NWMLS database.
Here’s the relevant part of the rule from the NWMLS:
Members shall not promote or advertise any property in any manner whatsoever, including, but not limited to yard or other signs, flyers, websites, e-mails, texts, mailers, magazines, newspapers, open houses, previews, showings, and tours, unless a listing for that property has been delivered to NWMLS, or input by the member.
Katie Curnutte, a Zillow spokeswoman, said that they were aware of the NWMLS rules when they launched the service. She said they respect those rules, and are not actively encouraging agents to break them.
“It is a marketing tool for agents, so they need to follow the marketing rules of their own MLS and brokerage,” she said. If agents are not acting within the rules of the local MLS, Curnutte said they will remove the “coming soon” listing. She also noted that agents must check a box that they are complying with local MLS rules before posting.
There are active “Coming Soon” listings posted in cities such as Chicago, San Diego and Boston, though Curnutte did not have readily available the total number of “Coming Soon” listings to date.
Zillow was criticized last week in a guest post on Inman News by Doug Miller, executive director of Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate. Miller equated the “Coming Soon” feature to a so-called pocket listing, calling it harmful to consumers.
Interestingly, Redfin ran afoul of the NWMLS marketing rules last summer with its Price Whisperer service, with the company later suspending it in Seattle.
The “Coming Soon” service is available for free to Zillow Premier Agents and those brokerages that provide a direct feed to Zillow. Each listing can be pre-marketed for 30 days, and then extended for another 30 days. They will not exceed 60 days.
Meanwhile, Zillow’s stock continues to soar, up again more than three percent today. The company — which earlier today inked an alliance with the largest Multiple Listing Service in Silicon Valley — now has a market value of $5.73 billion.