Zillow Takes a Bite Out of Dual Agency

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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 Zillow Listing Portalone.  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.


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers 04/22/2017 08:28 AM
  2. Mary Yonkers 04/22/2017 07:03 PM
Real Estate Best Practices
The Lounge at Active Rain
Orange County Real Estate
LA Connection
dual agency

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Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Congratulations on the feature for a informative post.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Apr 23, 2017 07:15 PM #46
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

John Meussner - Now if 'Coming Soon' is going to be an exception, that back door avenue is still open for dual agency, isn't it?

Apr 23, 2017 09:30 PM #47
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

(And I must say, John Meussner - some of the least stressful transactions for me were a dual agency where I represented both buyers and sellers and it was a perfect win-win in almost all cases!) 

Though I do not intend to use Zillow for dual agency anyways.

Apr 23, 2017 09:33 PM #48
Nathan Gesner
American West Realty and Management - Cody, WY
Broker / Property Manager

John Meussner I'm not a fan of Zillow but they got this one right. Thanks!

Apr 24, 2017 05:01 AM #49
Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) www.Progressive-Realty.info - Boise, ID

Here in Boise, Idaho; I tell my clients to look at how Zillow ranks themselves for accuracy.  We are a non-disclosure state, so they don't even give themselves a 1-5 star rating (their rating system) because they admit they don't get enough data.

I am glad they don't allow agents to input their own data.  Our MLS found a lot of the bad data were from sources like home magazines and other sources that pushed data to Zillow, but never updated it.

Apr 24, 2017 08:40 AM #50
Matthew O'Hare
Osterville, MA

Great poet, great to see Zillow being "proactive" and addressing shady practices.

Apr 24, 2017 09:55 AM #51
Jon Kolsky
Kolsky Realty & Management - Long Beach, CA
Licensed California Real Estate Broker

John Meussner ~ ulterior motives, my friend! Z nixed manual listing entry for real estate agents so they can doubles down on direct listing feeds and put pressure on more MLSs and brokers to provide listing feeds to ZG. If they really cared about flawed data (which they do not) - they would put a stop to FSBO manually listing entries “as well as” direct brokerage and franchise feeds. On the surface, it looks good, but dig deep enough and you’ll find plenty of grays


Apr 24, 2017 10:01 AM #52
Foster Smith Summerville
Carolina One Real Estate - Summerville, SC
Summerville & Charleston Homes for Sale SC Realtor

Thanks for sharing this info. Our company just started allowing feed to zillow. They hadn't allowed it for years and I manually entered my listings as a result.

Apr 24, 2017 02:45 PM #53
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

Looks like Zillow did something right. Altbough the Coming Soon should be stopped also. Not quite sure what the benefit of that is other than to possibly get a buyer ahead of it going on the market.

Apr 24, 2017 04:26 PM #54
James Guido
eXp Realty of California Inc - San Clemente, CA
REALTOR, Broker Associate, South Orange County CA

I have a few commets/questions based on 41 years experience as a broker:

1. What exactly does "coming soon" mean to you? Does the agent have the listing? If so by MLS rules aren't thoes listings supposed to be placed in the MLS within 24 hours? If it isn't a listing why wouldn't other agents try and wrestle it away from the "listing" agent that may or may not actually have a listing?

2. When is NAR going to make Realtor.com create the very best website for searching (they get their data directly from the MLS's all over the country and they are supposed to post them more quickly than any other site). Until they do that many others will be more popular.

3. Whey does Zillow still promote Trulia? Two sites from the same company? I have a friend who worked for Zillow for years. He knows and shares, legally, the inside workings of Zillow. It would blow your mind.


Apr 24, 2017 05:08 PM #55
James Guido
eXp Realty of California Inc - San Clemente, CA
REALTOR, Broker Associate, South Orange County CA

I don't like dual agency especially in this market. A "friend" of mine spoke to an agent who was walking "her" farm and happened onto my friend. She said she had a buyer and produced a written offer a day later. The seller, who is over 75 years old and living alone since her husband died almost 10 years ago, accepted the offer and they are in escrow. Yes I am disappointed that I didn't get the listing but I more concerned that she isn't truly represented and the agent didn't put her home on the MLS. The seller would have received multiple offers because of the current stress on inventory. The seller even remarked that "a home just down the street sold in 2 days" and that "her floorplan was very popular". Yet is was still not placed on the MLS. By the way the appraisal came in low and the buyer's agent (not really the seller's agent right?) asked her to split the difference between the appraised value and the agreed to purchase price. Really? In this market? I suggested to her not to give up one penny if asked to. I hope she didn't. We will see when it closes; the agent will surely put that in the MLS so she gets MLS credits for a listing and a sale.

I love this business but sometimes the lack of morals and ethics by far too many agentt just really disappoints me.

Good day all!

Apr 24, 2017 05:16 PM #56
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Like you, I am no fan of Zillow, but I think they got it right in this case!

Apr 25, 2017 02:00 AM #57
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

I agree, they got it right this time! The shady agents will simply have their clients enter the data, sharing their photos with them to do so also!  I can just see it now!

And yes John, the coming soon there HAS to end - it's creating all sorts of issues for us here in our area.

Apr 25, 2017 07:52 PM #58
Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Good info, interesting move on Ziillow's part. What do you think they did this to ultimately accomplish?

I'm all for ethical dual agency and practice it regularly.

I'm against pocket listing properties though. The seller needs every opportunity to sell to the best offer. I've had several dual agency opportunities fall through when they were over bid by other buyers. 

Apr 25, 2017 10:26 PM #59
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

I don't think this is a real problem. I don't believe their move had anything to do with dual agency either.

Apr 26, 2017 05:11 AM #60
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA
www.HugginsHomes.com - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

Zillow is doing this because they are trying to combat the inaccuracy of their data and are hoping that agents will force their associations to give their data to zillow.  Has nothing to do with dual agency.  Plenty of other consumer portals out there and all an agent has to do is use RealBird to get their listings on there or create a FSBO listing.

Apr 26, 2017 02:23 PM #61
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Couldn't agree more.  I appreciate your news!  

May 01, 2017 06:54 PM #62
Eren Millam
Realty World Cosser & Associates, Inc. - Chehalis, WA
Certified Negotiation Expert

Interesting take from a mortgage lender. However, not based in any facts! 

The problem with syndication from the MLS is the information is NEVER accurate. The pictures come out blurry as well. I always have to edit the information when it gets to Zillow 48 hours after being on the market. If I try to enter the listing prior, the syndication overwrites it. This was never an attempt at dual agency, but it was an attempt at the very thing they're trying to accomplish.

Dual agency is also not "shady". Your assumptions that buyers or sellers can't be represented is inaccurate. If an agent is representing their client any differently between buyer or seller agency vs dual agency, they are doing something wrong and haven't been trained properly. This is a big misconception. 

In my opinion, Zillow is doing this for the wrong reasons. MLS's all around the country are shutting off the syndication stream. For agents like me, this would not effect me because I could manually input them. However, the emails I am receiving from Zillow are asking me to put pressure on the MLS to allow the syndication. Without syndication, Zillow dies. In fact, they've already allowed an extra 30 days to manually input. I see them caving in the end or they will lose all the advertising dollars from agents who's listings won't be on Zillow.

May 03, 2017 11:36 AM #63
Tracy Santrock
Fonville Morisey/Santrock Realty Group, Inc. - Cary, NC
Raleigh - Cary Realtor/Broker In Charge

In the process they also will not allow you to post coming soon listings unless you are a premier agent.  I cancelled that in April and now I have to wait for the feeds from the MLS. Bummer.

Jun 07, 2017 11:38 AM #64
Darin and Mary Waldeck
SunState Realty - Englewood, FL
Exceeding Expectations!

Not a Zillow fan at all.  Personally I feel if they wish to continue to allow fsbo's to put a listing in manually, then they should certainly allow individual agents to continue to put their listings in manually as well.  Why the discrimination?

Jun 13, 2017 11:09 AM #65
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