We know that there have been a lot of questions regarding Zillow and the status of their relationship with the Berkshire MLS. You may be aware, Zillow is in the process of operating as a licensed brokerage nationwide. As Zillow transitions from being a syndication partner to a dues-paying member of NAR and local Associations, they will begin to enjoy the same rights as other brokerages, including IDX (Internet Data Exchange) feeds.
Today, Zillow receives data when listing brokers “instruct” the MLS to provide their listing information when checking the option on the distribution tab in each listing within the FlexMLS data entry screen. Brokers “opt-in’ to allow use of their data on various syndication sites, and according to the terms of service in the MLS syndication agreement.
In weeks to come, (expect March) Zillow intends to becomes a brokerage in our area, and then they will be able to display listings on their website through the same feeds that brokers do today, called an IDX feed. IDX has different display requirements that are uniform for all members and is offered as an all-in or all-out model. If you want to use MLS listings on your website, you must allow other MLS users the ability to use your listing on theirs. Display is governed by our IDX Rules and Regulations and our MLS IDX Policies. Many larger MLSs have already been through the transition, and the changes made to Zillow.com have caused questions of concern. Zillow released a statement that addressed some of these hiccups, shared below.
You might have also heard that for $500 million dollars, Zillow has purchased ShowingTime, a real estate scheduling service. While we are not currently using the services of ShowingTime, the MLS board did tell the members at the annual meeting that we’ve been considering adding that as a member benefit. We encourage everyone to keep a cool head as we carefully review what these changes mean to the MLS and our relationship with vendors that may be owned by a brokerage (Zillow) going forward. Much like their acquisitions of Dotloop, Bridge Interactive, and Retsly, Showingtime will most likely operate independent of Zillow Group and would remain accountable to the data privacy and restrictions required in existing agreements.
All members need to be especially mindful that Zillow is now transitioning to a brokerage and no one should participate in any discussion that would violate or could even be perceived as violating anti-trust laws or our REALTOR Code of Ethics against a member firm. Based on some comments seen online by REALTORS, it might be worth 15 minutes to check out this anti-trust video (also linked below) that shows how much liability you have when talking about competitors, fees and/or vendors! If you have questions, please only speak with your broker! Brokers of course can give me, Sandy Carroll at the Board Office a call to answer questions since I am not a competitor – or you can use the MAR Legal Hotline as well.
Message from Zillow to Broker Partners:
As we move forward from Zillow’s recent switch to IDX feeds, we know there are ongoing questions and concerns about what changed on the site and why. I’m writing to address those concerns, and help you understand the benefits your business can expect to see with this move.
As with a lot of major changes, there have been a couple of bugs that have made this a bumpier transition than we would have liked, but those have been actively triaged by our teams and we’ve worked tirelessly to make fixes ahead of schedule. Today, I assure you, our industry partners, that you are an essential part of our mission to provide a better real estate experience for all home shoppers and we’re excited about this new transition to IDX.
What changed on Zillow sites and why
Our partners were top of mind in our planning for the switch to IDX and while we had to make a few adjustments to our products and the way listings and agents are displayed on our sites for compliance reasons, our commitment to connecting home shoppers to our partners hasn’t changed. Streamlined listing data on Zillow through IDX feeds allows us to deliver a comprehensive and effective home search experience for our shared customers, and brings more listing coverage and quicker listing updates to your listings on Zillow sites.
What did not change
We remain committed to helping your agents show up for home shoppers on Zillow – that includes your agent profile with past sales, active listings and agent reviews. Agent reviews were not impacted in the transition, and while there is a bug that prevents active listings from displaying on profiles, it is being fixed. Consumers can still find agents via Agent Finder, which now sorts agents on the value and count of local reviews rather than on past sales and listings data. And, your listings remain front-and-center on Zillow sites for consumers to see.
How we are making it right
Home shoppers and sellers need your expertise more than ever as they dream, search and move amid the continuing challenges of these times. These changes will be better for our shared customers and better for your business, today and ongoing.
I know this transition has been hard, and I want to sincerely thank you for sticking with us while we work through it, as well as for giving us your honest feedback. Our teams are working nonstop on fixes for lingering issues and the most significant bugs will be resolved this week. Please visit the Zillow Premier Agent blog for the latest updates.
Thank you again for your patience and partnership as we work to build a better real estate experience, together.
Senior Director, Broker Relations