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The Truth Behind Zillow Syndication

Syndication to Zillow has always been a broker decision. HAR only provides the tool for the broker to send their listings, if they choose.

If you’re ever at a REALTOR® event that seems to lack energy, just say one word to get the party started: Zillow. If there was ever a trigger word to spark impassioned responses among REALTORS®, that is it.

One of the most frequently asked questions that we receive is, “Why do you (HAR) syndicate our (agent) listings to Zillow?” It’s more complicated than a sentence or two can answer sufficiently.

The first point to note is that the listing is owned by the broker; not the agent. The agent may be the one with the relationship with the client, regardless, the listing is the broker’s. So, how did HAR start syndicating listings to Zillow on behalf of our brokers?

Many years ago, large franchises began syndicating their brokers’ listings to Zillow on a national level, including listings for the greater Houston area. That meant that about half of the listings in Houston were already on Zillow.

It was long after that, HAR was approached by some independent brokers and was asked to provide a way to syndicate to Zillow through the MLS so they wouldn’t have to individually send their listings to Zillow. It actually took two years to reach an agreement because HAR had requirements that Zillow was unwilling to meet. Finally, an agreement was reached, and the HAR board of directors approved the terms.

Syndication to Zillow has always been a broker decision. HAR only provides the tool for the broker to send their listings, if they choose. Any broker may opt out of sending their listings at any time. The last time I checked, seven firms had opted out (ever), out of about 4,700 member firms currently. HAR does not receive any financial compensation from Zillow, REALTOR.com, Trulia, etc. for syndicating the listings because HAR is just providing the tool for the brokers to send their listings to Zillow (and the other national sites).

HAR Syndication Sites

If any broker would like to stop syndicating the  firm’s listings to Zillow, they may do so by emailing idx@har.com and indicating whether they would like to opt out of sending their listings to Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, etc. Again, this must come from the broker for the firm.

Houston is the only market in the entire country where Zillow is not the No. 1 real estate site – HAR.com is No.1. Zillow is the No. 2 real estate site in Houston and has 195 million unique visitors across the Zillow Group sites. Ultimately, it is the broker’s decision to determine whether it is in the best interest of the firm’s clients to have the additional exposure by being on one or more of the national real estate portals. What’s in the best interest of your clients? As with most things these days, it’s all about what the consumer wants.

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