Zillow Group nixes manual listing entry for real estate agents, doubles down on direct listing feeds

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Starting in May, Trulia and Zillow will only accept listings directly from MLSs or brokerages

Real estate agents will soon lose the ability to manually post listings on Zillow or Trulia.

Zillow Group, which operates the two listing portals, will nix the option on May 1, in a move that will put pressure on more MLSs and brokerages to send listings directly to the company.

Accuracy and timeliness

The change won’t apply to other listing types, such as for sale by owner (FSBO), “Coming Soon” and “Make Me Move” listings — which typically must be manually posted by agents or homeowners. Homebuilders already could not manually post listing to Zillow or Trulia.

Zillow Group says it’s making the adjustment to promote the accuracy and timeliness of listings that appear on Zillow and Trulia.

“We are taking this step to provide buyers and sellers with the highest-quality listings data possible, and to provide agents and brokers with a simple way to market their listings,” Zillow Group announced in an email sent to agents who previously had manually added listings to Zillow or Trulia.

“Broker and MLS feeds are the best way to achieve this.”

Direct feeds

Zillow advised agents to check if their MLS provides a listing feed to Zillow Group on its “MLS Checker site.”

“If a feed is available, a Zillow Group team member will be able to answer any questions and help you keep your listings on Zillow and Trulia,” the email said.

But if agents discover their MLS does not provide a direct feed to Zillow Group, the company suggested they ask their brokerage or MLS to start.

“If an MLS feed is not currently available in your market, ask your broker about setting up a free feed with Zillow Group,” the email said. “You can also reach out to your local MLS and request that they establish a feed. Please visit the Zillow Help Center for our list of MLS contact information.”

Zillow Group spokeswoman Amanda Woolley said Zillow expects the change will lead more brokers and MLSs to provide direct listing feeds to Zillow Group.

It also closes off a marketing channel agents have been able to use to bypass the MLS.

For example, agents can no longer manually post new homes to Zillow or Trulia on behalf of homebuilders while withholding those listings from the MLS. They would only be able to get a homebuilder’s listings to appear on Zillow without also listing them on the MLS if their broker provided a direct listing feed to Zillow Group.

New homes sold directly by homebuilders — rather than through third-party brokers — won’t be affected by the change because Zillow Group already only accepts those listings through direct listing feeds from homebuilders. Homebuilders can’t manually post properties to Zillow or Trulia, Woolley said.

Zillow Group’s decision to eliminate manual listing entry for agents underscores a shift over the last few years in how the company sources listings.

The company once received a large share, if not a majority, of its listings from listing syndicator ListHub — a company owned by realtor.com operator, Move. It also received listings directly from a few dozen MLSs and a few thousand brokerages.

But after News Corp. acquired Move, Zillow Group announced in January 2015 that it could not come to terms over renewing its agreement with ListHub.

That was widely perceived as a bid by News Corp. to handicap realtor.com’s chief rival, and it spurred Zillow Group to sprint after acquiring direct feeds from more MLSs, so as to avoid losing a sizable share of its coverage.

Asked for the number of MLSs that provide direct feeds to Zillow Group today, Woolley said over 550 MLSs now “have the ability” to send listings to Zillow Group.

She wouldn’t specify what share of those MLSs exercise that ability, and she said that Zillow Group would not reject listings from MLSs other than those 550.

She also said that more than 25,000 partner brokers send listings directly to Zillow Group, while noting that a broker partner can represent more than one brokerage.

This high level of coverage has apparently given Zillow Group enough confidence to eliminate the only way a relatively small number of agents have to add listings to Zillow and Trulia.

Woolley declined to say what share of agent-listed properties are posted manually today, but the number of feeds it receives from MLSs and brokers suggests only a small minority are posted in that manner.

Woolley said a common reason why agents may manually add listings to Zillow and Trulia is that they’re unaware that the sites receive listings directly from their MLS or brokerage.


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