Zillow Shopping for Fresher Data in Appeal to MLSs, with Comments from Ward Arendt, Chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors MLS Advisory Group

by Houston Agent

HAR's policy with syndication sites, and how it feeds information to them, is contractual.

By Peter Ricci

Zillow was in the news yesterday when Inman News reported that the syndication site had contacted 50 or so MLSs at the end of June about establishing direct IDX feeds. Though Zillow maintains secondary feeds through ListHub, which initially receives property data from nearly 200 MLSs, the email from Zillow Vice President of Partner Relations Bob Bemis indicated the site is looking to receive the information directly from the MLSs and eliminate any gaps between MLS updates and Zillow’s listings.

Zillow’s new strategy, though, got us wondering about HAR’s relationship with the site, so we talked with Ward Arendt, the chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors MLS Advisory Group, for some perspective.

HAR’s relationship with the big three syndication sites – Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com – is contractual, Arendt, says, and those agreements state that as long as the sites match HAR’s rules and regulations in the posting of listings, they are free to do so.

The contracts, though, are not a “one size fits all” model, Arendt clarified; each contract was drafted separately and operates independent of the other. Key details include how listings are displayed on the sites and how accurate the information is about the properties.

The contracts are revisited and renewed on a regular basis, and HAR’s contract with Realtor.com has been around for as long as the site has existed, Arendt said. For brokers, there is no option for what sites will stream what properties; in other words, the policy is all or nothing, and if agents do not want their listings fed to one of the sites, they’ll need to forfeit the other two as well.

Arendt said, though, that there is a benefit to the agents in opening their listings to other syndication sites and increasing their potential client base, and that is the reason HAR established its connection with the sites.

“We do this strictly for Realtor profitability; we don’t do it for anything else,” he said.

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