Zillow Takes a Bite Out of Dual Agency
"Beginning in May, 2017, Zillow Group, which includes both the Zillow and Trulia platforms, has decided to STOP accepting manual listing entries from real estate agents.
What does this mean?
It means that beginning in May, Zillow and Trulia will ONLY accept listings through direct MLS or brokerage feeds. Agents WILL NOT be able to post listings directly to Zillow independently of their MLS or brokerage.
NOTE: This change WILL NOT apply to the FSBO, Coming Soon, or Make Me Move listing types. You will still be able to enter these manually.
Why the change?
This decision was made by Zillow Group, NOT by CRMLS. Zillow has stated in an interview with Inman.com that they are “making the adjustment to promote the accuracy and timeliness of listings that appear on Zillow and Trulia.”
This was an email that was sent out today announcing a major shift in the way ZillowGroup websites will allow listings to be presented on their platform. If you've followed my blog for any period of time, you know ZGroup is atop my "worst.companies.ever" list, but they got it right with this one. On the surface, it appears to be placating NAR rather than going to war with them over listing data. But beneath the surface, this will address a very real problem - shady agents listing property on Zillow in hopes of double-ending commissions through dual agency.
Recently as home inventory has declined and values have spiked, it's become a market where it doesn't take a rocket scientist to sell a home in many markets. In fact, in many marketplaces across the country, selling a home is about as simple as putting a "for sale" sign up and letting the bidding wars begin (see: The entire Bay area of Northern CA, specifically the 20+ offers and ensuing bidding wars that a recently listed tear down home caused). In these cases, many listing agents are putting homes only in consumer-focused online portals, hoping to rope in their own buyer before other buyer's agents have a chance to know the property is even on the market.
This practice reeks of an ethics lapse for several reasons. The biggest being that limiting marketing exposure on a listed property is almost always to the detriment of the seller, which completely breaches fiduciary duties. A seller doesn't get the opportunity to showcase their home to as large an audience as possible, and theoretically could lose out on interested eyes that would translate to a higher price tag. Beyond ethical lapses, the information found in systems such as Zillow
Personally, I'm happy to see an avenue for shady agents to do shady things put to rest. Buyers cannot be adequately represented by a listing agent, as there is already an agreement to best represent the seller of a home, which is in direct opposition to the best possible representation of a buyer. For an agent to intentionally seek out dual agency situations is to put a paycheck ahead of ethics. If we want our industry to gain momentum with an improving image, and we don't want to be regulated out of existence, cutting off the ways someone can act unethically is a good step in the right direction. I rarely say this, but this time around, ZillowGroup got it right.