Zillow

Open Letter to All MLS Executives about Zillow's Full Court Press

“Danger Will Robinson!” (from “Lost in Space” for those who don’t remember 🙂

Decision Makers: Caution, do not be rushed into signing contracts, just because Zillow is in a hurry. There is no substitute for your own due diligence.

What it looks like from where I sit…which includes recently participating in a forum at my MLS, reviewing what our actions will be with Zillow’s request for data…And, as as the newly appointed chair of the MLS committee at my association (yep, back to a little volunteering, this is critical),

Zillow’s bluster of the number of contracts signed is just that, bluster…and obfuscation. Contracts signed do not mean listings for Zillow, if the contract is opt in, which most are. Zillow press releases and Inman News articles fail to mention this fact (and they understand the significance)….so all a lot of hype and imo, deception, is coming from Zillow as April 7 approaches.

What Zillow has created in the marketplace is an “artificial urgency.” There should be no “panic” by brokers, agents, and MLSs as the April 7 deadline approaches. This really is Zillow’s problem, not yours.

Participants and Subscribers of an MLS can have their listings displayed on Zillow should they desire, through direct load, with no direct feed contract in place with the MLS. This is the solution to temper the artificial, manufactured urgency, and it is a simple one. This makes more sense than rushing to sign a contract at this point in the current Zillow manufactured “crisis.”

A truer picture of the potential negative impact of not having a contract in place with Zillow may be available in your own data, by answering a few questions.

How many listings now in the MLS (Current for sale inventory)
How many agents currently have active listings?
How many of the agents with active listings do not work for a franchise or a brokerage firm that provides listings to Zillow?

The number of Subscribers and Participants impacted, if as small as I suspect in many markets, do not warrant taking a risk on an improperly vetted data license agreement. This is complex stuff, and if you error, do you have the resources to battle Zillow over contract interpretation?

The consequence of not having a signed contract with Zillow by April 7 probably puts your MLS in an even better negotiating position moving forward, as Zillow will be desperate for MLS data.

Don’t be fooled.

I also recommend a conversation with Brian Larson/Mitch Skinner before you sign anything.

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