Zillow launches "Advertise another agent's listing" feature

Real Estate Agent

 Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink appear to have a brilliant piece of real estate disintermediation on their hands. The gurus oiling the Zillow machine have just launched a new feature, "Advertise another agent's listings".

How it works:
Agents can click on a house in the Zillow database (includes all houses via tax records and satellite imaging) and after creating an account, advertise that the property is currently for sale. The benefit to the agent is that their contact information will display as a contact for that house. Joel Burslem author of FutureOfRealEstateMarketing writes: “Now anyone can now identify a home as being for sale. The idea is that buyers' agents or new agents with some time on their hands will step up to bat and start identifying properties on behalf of the busy listing agents.”

Hold a moment. Can agents randomly advertise other's listings?? If this new feature sends up red flags, you're in good company. Traditionally, advertising another's listings without specific permission is against MLS rules. For example, note Northwest MLS Rule #190:

“Advertising Another Member’s Listing Prohibited. No member shall, without first obtaining the listing member’s or subscriber’s written permission (including email), advertise a property listed by another member in any manner, including but not limited to, display, reader board,   newspaper, flyer or other publication, except that a member may republish another member’s listings on the Internet in a manner consistent with NWMLS Rules and policies so long as the listing is approved by the owner for Internet publication.”

  Zillow appears to be attempting a semantic maneuver around this issue. Agents are merely "reporting" homes currently for sale, as opposed to acting as the advertiser. From “If you report a home is for sale you get your name, a thumbnail picture, and a link to your profile -- for free.”

You can almost hear the well-meaning Buyers' Agent's defense to the MLS Board, “I didn’t advertise another agents listing. I just told Zillow that I noticed the 4000 property’s were for sale in my city. It is not my fault that they added my name, image, and a link to my profile page on every one of the properties' pages. I did it for the community! Plus according to Zillow, 'Special space on the page is reserved for homeowners and listing agents who might subsequently enter information on that home.'”

Zillow's new development has the potential to alter the real estate industry as we know it by bypassing the agent centered MLS system. If only a handful of agents across the country pursue this as a competitive advantage, within months or even weeks Zillow may secure for themselves the position as a top listings aggregator.

“Don’t ever underestimate the competition”. Zillow's leadership is intelligent and perceptive at how to reach their aims as they move into the future. Zillow's position raises moral/ethical questions. Is it time for the MLS to open up listing data to all tech businesses, or should that data be available for publication only by licensed real estate agents/brokers? If the MLS determines that the listings should in fact remain under real estate agent control, then the MLS should not be misled by Zillow doubletalk. This new feature is all about allowing agents to advertise other agent's listings without their permission. 

Is it time to open up the listings information?  Realogy (previously Cendent) just made the move to syndicate all of their listings to Trulia and Googlebase. What should our role be?

1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 116 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK
I don't see a lot of difference between advertising another broker's listings and placing your sign on a property that is really listed with another broker and that's a no-no.  So why isn't advertising another broker's listing the same thing?
Apr 04, 2007 04:21 PM
Michelle DeRepentigny
Success Realty - Athens, GA
Broker Athens, GA

Change is coming, get on the train or you may be ran over.  I proudly promote the fact that my listings are on, and many other "less traditional sites" on my profile here, there and everywhere.  The first thing I talk about regarding marketing at a listing presentation is that "We do things differently....".  I want to promote my listings to the LARGEST pool of buyers available, and whereas lot of buyers shop, I use to pay for extras and NEVER got the response that I have gotten from these other sites!

Today, I posted my 1st EZ Ad at and I'm excited about the affordable easy to use format!  My 1st thought on reading Jonathan's post was "How Cool"!  Then I slowed down and though about the potential situations for abuse, which I admit are huge.  I have mixed feelings on this issue, but love the thought process and the fact that Zillow pushes the envelope, because I want to be as progressive & proactive as they are.

Wow, this is starting to sound like they are paying me (and Drew didn't even pick me lol!) so I'll just say that much as I love double dippin' by selling my own listings, my #1 goal is to expose my listings to the largest pool of buyers and Zillow does a great job of helping do that!

Apr 04, 2007 04:52 PM
Brian Brady
Matthews Capital Markets - Tampa, FL

I have mixed feelings on this issue, but love the thought process and the fact that Zillow pushes the envelope, because I want to be as progressive & proactive as they are

...and that's why you'll dominate your market in the next 5 years, Michelle; you think outside of the box 

Apr 04, 2007 06:35 PM
Maureen Francis
Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel - Bloomfield Hills, MI
Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel
If someone else enters my listings will their photo always remain on it?  Also, they had better be writing their own description and not using my photos or I will be peeved.  Are they also going to come back and change the price for me or mark it sold?   I really dont want someone else posting my listings anywhere.
Apr 06, 2007 10:22 AM
Jim & Maria Hart
Brand Name Real Estate - Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC Real Estate
I've been out of the loop for over a week now, and this news just boggles my mind.  I have not read any other comments, but this seems to be against our ethical obligations to our fellow real estate agents.  If you identify a property for sale, and your photo and info gets linked to it, then the consumer finds you to be the listing agent.  Completely false advertising.  Unfair to the consumer because the agent they contact may give them wrong/bad information, and unfair to the listing agent.
Apr 06, 2007 01:32 PM
Kelley Eling
Fathom Realty Group - Sonoma, CA
Realtor Extraordinaire

I agree with Jim and Maria Hart.  A fellow agent and friend of mine was holding a Sunday Open House at one of my listings for me.  The listing was loaded February 7.  When someone asked how long the home had been on the market, she told them, "Well, I know it was on over the holidays..."  Even though I had provided plenty of information for her, including all the activity in the neighborhood, including dates.  No one cares about your listing the way that you do. 

Apr 07, 2007 04:37 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome


I think like several of the commenters that this is just another step in the evolution of real estate that is inevitable given the reach and impact of the Internet.  Agents who stomp their feet and wring their hands in despair will join the dinosaurs.  Those who see opportunities (can you say "Type E"?) will continue to prosper because they recognize that the one absolute in business and in life is CHANGE.  After looking at this post, I decided to place one of my active listings on Zillow.

Apr 08, 2007 06:54 AM
Kimberly Fowler
Heart Of Texas Real Estate Group, RE/MAX Centex, REALTORS - Waco, TX
Real Estate Solutions for Your Best Life, Now!

This is very interesting. Thanks for making us aware.

Apr 09, 2007 03:43 AM
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Better Properties Seattle - Kirkland, WA
Zillow is not subject to the rules of the mls so they are definitely free to "rock the boat".  Will be interesting to see how agents are affected and if they will be fined or just told to remove it.
Apr 09, 2007 06:12 PM
Lauren Friese
Heritage Texas Properties - Houston, TX

I have notice zillow not totally accurate. I use it as a cross reference but I don't trust the information as much as MLS.  I noticed Condos and Lofts searches  are not very accurate. The comparative market analysis is 75% of the time not even close to being accurate. I tell my clients it is a decent resource but nothing to take to serious because the records are not as creditable as MLS.  Zillow is ambigus because the origination of information, by not having guidelines to whom can post what listings and allowing the listings to have shadow agent. Therefore Zillow looses creditability.

 Zillow will not be penalized for false listings, Realtors are the ones in danger. What about Realtors reputations could Zillow make the consumer to think Realtors are not need because the can go to Zillow?

I believe in educating the consumer with creditable resources.  I am not against Zillow but needs to improve there filtering system. It's needs accurate information, INTEGRITY!

  What about the NLS, point 2 homes? It is trying to become the next MLS.  I believe it could.

Apr 09, 2007 08:45 PM
Chad Blessinger
FC Tucker Kerstiens Realty - Jasper, IN

I am unsure how I feel about this whole Zillow situation.  I just put a listing on there becasue I feel it is in my client's best interest. 

The whole real estate game is on the move. 

Apr 16, 2007 10:44 AM
Jon Washburn
Seattle, WA

UPDATE!! According to a post on Condo Domain:

Massachusetts MLS Takes Action:

"Recently, the On-Line Valuation site, Zillow announced a new function being made available to advertise listings for sale on that site, whether or not you are the listing broker/agent. The MLS Rules and Regulations, STRICTLY PROHIBIT the advertising of another broker’s listings without their prior WRITTEN consent. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics, Standard of Practice 12-4 also prohibits the advertising of a listing without proper authority. Better safe than sorry; do not advertise another office’s listing anywhere without prior written approval."

Apr 20, 2007 04:51 AM
David G from

Hi Jonathon -

FYI - we're working to get in touch with the Massachusetts MLS and hope to clear up their confusion. If you have their contact details, I'd appreciate it if you could forward those on. 

I understand that the MLS rules prohibit the advertising of another brokers' listings without their consent. We do not tolerate that on Zillow and will remove from the site listings that are advertised someone other than the owner or the listing agent. 

It is however perfectly legitimate for agents and others to tell people that homes are for sale. This is how many (if not most) homes actually do sell today; a listing agent advertisers a property and often it will be other agents that tell prospective buyers about it. That conversation is now happening on Zillow and it's a conversation that is very clearly is not an advertisement - either offline or online. If all agents stopped telling buyers what homes were on the market, houses would become far harder to sell.

Let me be very clear that our preference is to have the owner or listing agent choose to advertise their listings on Zillow -- it's free -- our site has a massive audience of home buyers and sellers -- why wouldn't you? But if the listing agent chooses not to advertise on Zillow, we're committed to answering a many question buyers have, which is "is this home for sale" -- and it is perfectly legitimate for any member of the Zillow community to answer that question for them.

Apr 20, 2007 05:47 AM
Jon Washburn
Seattle, WA

I just wish that Zillow would not incentivize non listing agents to tell Zillow about the listings.  It is a very clever marketing strategy on Zillow's part, but it does blur the lines as to whether or not the "telling agent" is in fact advertising that listing.

(This is a reposting of a previous comment in which I was accidently logged in as ActiveRain - this post/comment is just my personal opinion, does not necessarily reflect ActiveRain)

Apr 20, 2007 06:35 AM
Ken Bell
Realty Executives Brio - Bellevue, WA


Zillow is not subject to the rules of the mls so they are definitely free to "rock the boat"

Zillow is a member of the NWMLS. I wonder in what capacity they must abide by the rules depending on in what capacity they use that membership. Any idea?

Apr 20, 2007 06:42 AM
reo_homes for_sale
reo homes for sale - Indianola, WA

Dont we already do this with IDX.

May 15, 2008 07:14 PM
Wanda Phillips
Success Investment Realty - Altamonte Springs, FL

The word "Advertising" is defined as:  Attracting public attention to a product or service.   This practice definately does that and I don't see how it isn't "Advertising". 

However, as a listing agent - my goal is to sell my listings, any extra advertising that gets the job done is welcome.  As a buyers agent, when I see a new listing, I immediately send that to all my clients. 

Apr 30, 2009 02:32 AM
Chris Comberrel, Envoy Morgage, Mortgage Banker
Envoy Mortgage - Houston, TX

Currently, here in Houston, TX. Agents have a way to present any listing on HAR as if it is there own.

Dec 23, 2009 07:05 AM
Kathleen Barnard, GRI, Broker, Instructor

I no longer belong to our local Board, so do not access the MLS.  I think this is a foolish argument; isn't it the job of the lister to get the property sold?  Once the property is listed in any public domain, making reference to that property being for sale is not unethical or illegal.  So, if someone called me about a property that I had indicated was for sale, I would be delighted to work with the buyer and bring the offer to the lister. Is the gripe a concern that sellers may see another licensee working harder to sell his/her listing than the licensee who took the listing? More and more Brokers are working with For Sale By Owner, and, most often, affect the sale, and get paid - and - we get both sides of the transaction!!!!!  Kathleen Barnard, GRI, Broker, Instructor, St. Augustine, Fl.

Dec 24, 2009 06:04 AM
Kenny Stigler

I think that when you advertise on the MLS that you will pay commission to cooperating brokers, it opens the door to cooperating brokers to act as agents of the seller and take business actions that include marketing in order to secure a buyer for the seller...thus getting paid a commission. Keep in mind that the Seller is the one that pays the Cooperating Broker a Commission. Therefore, the Buyer's agent is implicitly working for the Seller.

Jul 27, 2011 10:34 AM