Zillow’s Data About to Get Worse – for the short term

Update: And Trulia. Update 2: Looks like Trulia keeps the listings, for now.

This likely a short-term hiccup, but those of you searching for houses in Charlottesville in 2015 … you’d be best advised to not count on Zillow for MLS-listed homes. For MLS-listed homes (the  vast majority of homes for sale/on the market), use my site or Nest’s site.

As of April 7, the data on Zillow will likely be less-accurate and less up-to-date than it is April 6. Three points:

(first: this is not a knock or attack on Zillow. I like them; I’ve started asking my clients to recommend me there, but it’s a tool with limitations)

1) Zillow – their data is not great right now, and it’s about to get much worse. Note: they will figure it out, but probably after you’ve bought (or not bought) a house this year. Their ancillary information is useful though.

2) Zillow’s pre-auction and foreclosures – I’ve yet to find one that’s accurate, and Zillow has removed the inaccurate ones I’ve brought to their attention.

3) For unrepresented sellers (yes, I search those too for my buyer clients), Zillow is pretty darn useful. (another one popped up today that a client sent me that I’m going to

4) Go ahead and search Zillow, but search Nest’s site and my site as well to get the most comprehensive overview of the market.

Geekwire reports:

Zillow spokesperson Katie Curnutte told GeekWire that if listings from ListHub were removed from Zillow today, the service would lose “a few hundred thousand” listings out of the 3.6 million on its site that it doesn’t receive through any other channel. That’s why Zillow is launching the Data Dashboard. Curnutte said that the company’s preference is to get up-to-date data from agents and brokers directly through the new system, rather than relying on deals with third parties like ListHub.

From Inman News:

2. It’s stated that April 7 is the end of the contract date — does that mean that Zillow will quit receiving data basically at midnight?

Starchild said, “April 7 is the date on which the current agreement expires, and without a new agreement to support any relationship between ListHub and Zillow, the listings will no longer be provided effective on the end of that day.”

3. When the listing feed is cut off, Zillow’s data will start to age — does ListHub have any requirements about how Zillow must handle listings it has previously purchased from ListHub as that data ages?

Yes — and this is a big one. According to Starchild, Zillow has 48 hours from the time that the listing syndication feed is turned off to remove all previously purchased ListHub listings and associated content from the website.

“The idea that the listings would just kind of sit out there on the Internet and get stale is a misconception,” she said. …

Not only do the listings themselves need to be removed, but also any “photos, pricing, remarks, virtual tours or any of the content that was aggregated by the Realtor and submitted onto this publisher website for the purpose of advertising to consumers. It just all has to be purged out of their system.”

This has ramifications way beyond searching for homes, for the real estate industry as a whole – from the company that runs Realtor.com (Move) to Zillow/Trulia, brokerages, etc. – but this post is for consumers and not real estate folks.

Further reading for the curious:

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