Zillow and our local MLS provider Sandicor reached the Great Impasse a year or two ago when they couldn’t agree on terms under which Sandicor would keep feeding our listings automatically to Zillow. Agents complain all the time about Zillow’s inaccuracy, but it’s our own fault – agents have to handle them manually, and many are unaware.
But Zillow out-foxed Sandicor, and went directly to the big franchises and made their own deals to obtain their listings. Zillow is now reaching out to the little guys too – they called me and offered to upload my listings direct from the MLS, and all I had to do is sign one form.
What’s the point?
Zillow has the killer instinct, and will throw their weight around to get what they want. They are willing to cross the line occasionally too, evidenced by their $130 million settlement in the Move, Inc. lawsuit, and their frat-house employee lawsuit they settled for around $5 million.
I mentioned briefly that the brokers are attempting to build a portal to rival Zillow, but it’s a waste of time and money. Zillow already has the eyeballs, and they get it about advertising. Any new portal would have to build a better mouse-trap AND advertise as much as Zillow just to catch up.
Or deny listings to Zillow.
But Zillow has already out-smarted any attempts to block listings, because they have gone to the brokers directly and cut their own deals. The Zillow Team realtors are going to stick with Zillow, not go to some broker upstart portal.
But here’s the catch:
The Broker Public Portal promises to send leads back to the listing broker.
It is all they have to offer the brokerages, and it sounds tempting, because no listing agent wants the three-headed monster (Zillow’s three outside agents) advertising on their listings.
But such a system would encourage more in-house, dual-agency transactions.
It is where the industry is heading, whether it is ethical or not. Zillow is already way ahead with their ‘Coming Soon’ ads, and every real estate trainer is prodding agents to ramp up advertising of hot new listings prior to MLS input. Unfortunately, NOBODY talks about the listing agent’s fiduciary duty to the seller to expose the home to the entire marketplace via the MLS.
I see 2-3 listings per day being inputted as ‘Sold Before Processing’, the realtor marketing sessions tout that ‘deals are being made’ at their private meetings, and most brokerages offer their agents a better commission split if their listing is sold in-house. The ethics of exposing a listing to the entire marketplace via the MLS is being ignored.
Dual agency is tricky for most, and it can be messy too if something goes sideways – the agent is squarely in the sights of every lawyer.
With the tight inventory, agents don’t feel the need to share their commission with an outside agent – especially one who might make repair requests or screw up the closing somehow. It will be better to hog the listing, make higher commissions, and have easier closings.
We are screaming towards single-agency, where the buyer will get no representation. If they want advice, they can pay for a buyer’s agent themselves, or just get dragged to the finish line by the listing agent’s clerks.
Hope you like the price and condition, because if you don’t, the next guy will.