Zillow today is ending a feature that let brokers manually add their home listings to the Seattle real estate company’s database, a move that is sure to upset some in the residential real estate community and delight others.
With the rule change, the main ways to list homes on Zillow are through direct feeds from multiple listing services and brokerages. Zillow said it is putting an end to letting brokers manually enter their listings because direct feeds are more accurate, faster and more efficient.
There’s one big problem for Seattle-area brokers with this new policy. Zillow does not have a deal for a direct feed of listings from the largest service in its back yard, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, an organization made up of 28,000 real estate professionals. Seattle’s MLS is one of the few large listing services in the U.S. that does not syndicate listings on Zillow.
More than 580 multiple listing services, covering 95 percent of active listings throughout the U.S., partner with Zillow, the company said, and it recently added services from Denver, Austin and San Diego.
Zillow suggests that an icy relationship between Zillow and NWMLS is beginning to thaw.
In an update to the manual listing wind-down, Zillow said NWMLS members who use certain Zillow products will now be able to get their listings on Zillow via things like IDX searches. It’s not a direct syndication of NWMLS listings, but it’s a start, the company says.
“We’ve been in active conversation with NWMLS for a while now and by working together we have made good progress fostering an improved relationship built on trust,” Zillow said in a statement. “Our ongoing belief is that we can provide a great experience to NWMLS and the brokers and agents they serve, and in turn, provide the home buyers and sellers in the Seattle area with timely, accurate and up-to-date listing data.”
NWMLS members will also have an additional 30 days to post their listings to Zillow manually.
Zillow and NWMLS’ work to improve their relationship comes after several back and forth exchanges over the last few years.
In 2014, Zillow introduced its Coming Soon feature, which allows agents to list properties on the site before they enter multiple listing services. But NWMLS blocked the feature from coming to Seattle due to rules barring members from advertising listings before they are entered into NWMLS and later fined an agent for breaking those rules.
Then in 2015, as Zillow was piling up new agreements with listing services, the company’s CEO Spencer Rascoff called NWMLS “backward,” noting that it was one of the few that did not syndicate directly to Zillow.
Zillow’s changes have some smaller brokerages scrambling. Rob McGarty, founder and broker of Seattle-based Bushwick Real Estate Services, said his firm is not big enough to justify a broker integration or use of an IDX product. If small brokerages like his get cut off from Zillow, the company will have fewer listings, McGarty said, in the extremely tight Seattle housing market.
“Since the bigger brokerages already have direct feeds they don’t really care if NWMLS does a feed or not, but the little guys are cut off from Zillow” McGarty told GeekWire. “I feel like a pawn having Zillow trying to deputize me to lobby for them at the NWMLS.”
On the flip side, the end of manual listings could be a relief for brokers. More official ties with multiple listing services should provide more accurate information, including fewer fraudulent or outdated listings.