Zillow 5! The Look Of The Future?

Bloodhound Blog has an interesting post on Zillow for anyone interested in alternatives to the current MLS. Zillow is brought to you by the same guys who brought you Expedia, and they seem to be combining some aspects of Wikipedia with a real estate database. Buyers and sellers can use the site, and there are advantages to Realtors to use it (and in fact, supply data to it). There are some challenges as well. Take a look. 

(Here is another take on Zillow)

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4 responses to “Zillow 5! The Look Of The Future?

  1. mike

    Yup, this is the future. People will be able to get significant information about a home without having to go through a realtor.

  2. robchipman

    I’ve said before that sharing information isn’t the reason behind the MLS. Greg Swann said it another way :

    “The actual purpose of the MLS is not to advertise properties but to publicize and promise shared commissions on listed properties. For-Sale-By-Owner homes are logically-excluded because the promise of shared compensation is absent”


  3. VHB

    ““The actual purpose of the MLS is not to advertise properties”

    If this is the way Realtors think, then they are fighting a rearguard action. That may have been the *original* intent of the MLS, but we are in a decentralized info-empowered society now, baby.

    Can anyone say King Canute?

    Either Realtors get with the 21st Century or they get left behind.

  4. robchipman


    I think you’re missing the point. I do think this way, (MLS is a cooperation platform before it is an advertising platform) and I don’t think I’m fighting any kind of rearguard action. Here’s why:

    Advertising mediums change. As a marketer you either adapt or miss opportunity. Real estate history is full of examples, whether it be lawn signs, mass mail, mass email, infoboxes on signs, listing specific radio ads, webpages, electronic contact programs, bus stop signs, special publications (RE Weekly used to dominate, now there is competition), whatever. Invent a new advertising platform and Realtors will use it.

    Zillow is an example of this: it gets lots of data from Realtors (free data entry, no paid staff, super little business plan), and sells advertsing to Realtors. Realtors benefit because Zillow is accretive. If you, as a buyer, find Zillow worthwhile, I, as a Realtor, can lead you to believe I’m an expert on the area you want because I put so much on Zillow. The numbers game says it pays off for the Realtor.

    So Zillow can beat MLS.ca. I don’t think that’s a surprise. After all, that’s a competition between a group of real estate trade organizations and the guys who brought you Expedia.

    Can Zillow replace MLS? No, clearly not. If you believe the MLS is an advertising platform before its a cooperation paltform, then you haven’t examined the contracts that make MLS work. MLS sets out the boundaries and mechanisms that allow Realtors to both compete with each other and get paid through each other.

    Can Zillow do away with Realtors and as a result render MLS moot? I don’t think so. We’ve had disorganized real estate before, and we still have it in some parts of the world. Realtors add value, regardless of MLS.

    In an increasingly expensive and litigious world I think its naive to think that you’ll sell real estate over the internet the way you sell things on Ebay. Most real estate transactions are pretty simple, but when something goes wrong the downsides are huge. Prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if prevention doesn’t work, E&O insurance and agency laws are helpful.

    In any market a professional marketer adds value. Realtors do that as well.

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