A Real Estate Discussion Blog


Stale Listings On Zillow - Would Love Your Input Please

Ok, Active Rainers, I would LOVE some input here to address the serious issue of properties on Zillow being marketing as For Sale, but are really Sold or Expired.   

Some background:  Very often we'll get a single listing from multiple data sources (for example: a broker,a mls, postlets and a virtual tour company).  Right now we have trumping logic to know which data to use as the source, it goes: agent entry, broker feed, mls feed (including Listhub) and then syndication services. 

Typical reason for sale listings are on the site even after they've sold: Say a listing is coming to us via a Broker feed, then it sells and comes out of the feed, and we in turn pull it off the site.  However, the agent doesn't take it out of all the syndication services they are using.  So while it comes out of the Broker feed, it then starts gets sourced by a virtual tour company until it comes out of that feed. 

I would LOVE your input on how we can solve this, because right now we are simply just displaying the information that we receive. 

Here are some ideas to get the juices flowing, but please feel free to shoot holes in them or offer your own solution.  One thing to note, because I am sure someone will just say to only use MLS data, is that only about 1.7M (rough guess) of the listings on the site are actually sourced by straight MLS data- as many MLSs do not feed to us directly. 

1) If a listing comes out of an agent, broker or MLS feed - ignore it in any syndication service for two months.  (would this hurt you from a pocket listing perspective?)

2) Once we get data from the country that home is Sold - ignore it regardless of if it is active in any feed.  In some counties this would work well, in others, it wouldn't increment data quality at all.   

3) If a listing is on the site for 180 days with no changes at all, pull it down.  (what is right time period?)

4) Stop taking feeds from partners who have a high percentage of stale listings in their feed (stale being defined at listings unchanged for more than 180 days). (but this means we would be cutting off some agents' syndication strategy?)

5) Your idea?

We really want to improve this situation on Zillow.  We recently made a big change to the site that helped clean a number of these stale listings up, which I talked about here.  But I know there is still more we can do.  I just want to make sure we do things that help clean up the data, but don't sacrifice your listing marketing opportunities. 







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Comment balloon 87 commentsSara Bonert • September 09 2010 12:50PM


Thanks for the opportunity to have input on improving Zillow Sara.  Maybe you should allow agent input to change status (pending,sold,withdrawn,etc.) and that input should override the other feed sites for that MLS number regardless of where the original input came from.

Posted by Al Raymondi, Ormond By The Sea Florida - Home and Condo Sales (Ocean View Realty Group in Ormond By The Sea Florida) over 9 years ago

Sara, if possible can you pull the agent's listing with the exclusive listing expiration date then the agent has to update the status or they it will be taken off the market.

I have seen frustration by my buyers when they have got a listing from zillow and it is off the market say sold last year!

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) over 9 years ago



Hey Sara,

Feature button clicked twice.

Here's my solution:

Stop taking our listings without our permission. Just because it's legal doesn't make it the best way for you guys to serve us or the public. Instead, charge a Realtor $25.00 for every posted listing. We'll manually update which listings we want exposed on your website. In return you'll give us ALL the leads. We'll have a nice arrangement.

This quick solution will prevent Zillow from further swimming in the same waters as Realtor.com. They have become a wonderful whore of a website. We all know that. Show some courage as a company to be different. Please stop taking our information and selling it back to us and then expect us to "understand."

Sell the Zestimate strategy to local Realtors as seller leads. This organic traffic is yours to enjoy, sell and pimp out to Realtors. Just like HouseValues.com.

You get to use our listing traffic to create listing leads while we get exclusive buyer leads off our own listings.

Sell that to the investors.

Posted by Greg Nino, Houston, Texas (RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP) over 9 years ago

#1, Ocean View Realty Group - That can happen today, an agent can go in and change the status.  This will override the feed.  The problem is that a lot of the bad listing data is from agents who never come to Zillow, so there wouldn't be this manual entry. 

 #2, Ritu- That's interesting.  But it would require feed partners to start giving it to us, which could be hard and it would probably only affect MLS sourced listings.  But if we did get it, that date could override all other feeds.  Do you ever keep marketing a home once it expires from the MLS, like a pocket listings?  I suppose if that was the case, it wouldn't be a big deal to enter it again in a service like postlets? Thanks for the idea, we hadn't thought about using that field.

#3, Gino - We don't take any listings, we only display what is given to us via feeds or manaully entered?  We don't do ANY scraping.  Interesting that you say to charge per listings, because when you look at international real estate websites, that is typically the model.  Those sites look at us like we are crazy because we let agents advertise listings for free.  Interestly, manually entered listings were the worst offender of being stale.  That is exactly why we started changing $39.95 for 6 months to advertise properties this way.  Charging a little helped improve quality, because all lot junk was being inputted. So that indeed helped.  But more our data (about 98%) comes to us via feeds, so now we need to figure out how to keep that as clean as possible.

'using the Zestimate only pages (ie non for sale) pages to generate seller leads - We do that today with our Premier Agent program. However, unlike HouseValues, the lead only goes to whom the Consumer chooses, not to multiple agents blindly. 

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

Sara, the bigger question is how on earth do you do those super-cool screenshots in your blog posts!? You're my blogging hero.

Posted by Spencer Rascoff (Zillow) over 9 years ago

I had to update a listing on Zillow that had been sold a couple of months ago, listed as Active. Our KWLS (Keller Williams Listing System) feeds to Zillow, but that wasn't the problem. I'm thinking it might have come from Postlets, but wasn't deleted when the postlet was? Not sure.

I've decided to be proactive and check the big listing sites like Zillow and Trulia at least once a week to ensure that the status/listing information is correct. It should only take 15-20 minutes at the most.

Sara if you do find a solution please let us know.

Posted by Lynda White, Admin. Mgr., Keller Williams Realty (Bluegrass Homes & Farms Realty, Agent Know How) over 9 years ago

I think you should pull feeds from the worst offenders.  How hard would it be to have an email go out every 2-3 months to the agent that has the listing to confirm that it is still active?  Can you just pull those listings if agent's don't respond to the email and check yes? 

Posted by Melina Tomson, Principal Broker/Owner, M.S. (Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon) over 9 years ago

Melina- The answer to your question is that it's a gray area.  When we get a feed, there is usually an agent email attached to each listing (unless the broker is using some type of eteam and has all leads router there).  However, it is against our terms of service to use the email addresses in that feed for marketing purposes.  So one could argue that what you suggest isn't marketing, but operational.  However, since that is a bit gray, we haven't done this. 

However, if an agent creates a free account with us, then they are giving us permission to communicate with them via email.  So every two weeks we send an email report of live listings with traffic information, and on there the agent can click to edit the status. 

But I am wondering - what if we sent a note to the specific agent if a specific listing hadn't changed for more than X months (probably 6?).  Interesting, I'll have some people think some more about this, thanks!!!

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

I don't know the solution, Sara, but it seriously undermines our credibility with buyers when they pull up stuff online as Active, and then we tell them it isn't available. It's a waste of their time and mine to research these inaccurate listings, and it drives me CRAZY. Zillow is certainly not the only offender. I put my buyers on Listingbook. At least it draws straight from the MLS and is fairly up-to-date. The ony thing worse is agents who leave Pending sales or "Backup offer only" listings as Active. I report them!

I'm glad Zillow is working on a solution.

Posted by Virginia OnullConnor, Realtor - Temecula, Anza, SoCal (Realtor®, Photographer, Artist) over 9 years ago

Sara, glad to see Zillow is trying to address this concern.

From the perspective of a real estate agent, the design of the Zillow website is not user-friendly. You responded to the first comment on this post, that an agent can go in and change the status on a listing. I didn't know this until you posted this info. I just went in to change the status of a listing from Active to Sold, the message I received was that this property will no longer be listed. So, people didn't actually get to see that it "Sold". One day it was listed as "Active" and now it doesn't show up on Zillow.

Posted by Nina Rogoff, Sells Real Estate! (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 9 years ago

Hi, Sara.

Thank you for asking our opinion.

First, with sincere respect to Greg, start charging $25.00 to $39.95 per listing, and you can kiss your website goodbye.  Nobody is going to pay it.   "The Internet is Free" is the mantra that was established in the 1990's.  Ask Ning . com and "Paywall" Newspaper Sites how well charging a Fee is working out for them.

Second, you (Zillow) are not alone.  Most MLSs, Trulia, Yahoo Real Estate, OLX, Hotpads, and everybody else has stale listings, bogus listings, expired listings, and sold listings showing as "Active For Sale".  This is an Internet / Technology issue that pervades the Real Estate Industry.   In time, it will work itself out.

Third, many Agents do not maintain their Listings.  They just "Set It and Forget It", as Ron Popeil would say.  This is not due to unethical, unscrupulous agents who are trying to "pad" their listing inventory (although some of those people are out there); it is due mainly to technological ignorance and neglect.

Sara, I believe that in time the MLSs and the Legitimate Feeds are going to clean up their submissions.  In the meantime, I like your "180 days and it goes away" idea.  

Also,  there are comments in THIS discussion by Agents who "Did Not Know" that they can change their Status.   Maybe Shout it Out, Loud and Clear,  on your Website and via Email and RSS and Social Media, that AGENTS can CHANGE THEIR STATUS.

Finally, is there a REPORT BUTTON on Zillow (that is monitored by Humans) where we could notify you that a Listing you are showing as Active, is actually Dead?


Posted by Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Not sure how to fix that, but how about houses listed for sale for $2400 that are clearly rentals.  People actually contact me on this, so no you can't expect people to think the obvious and I'd rather not have to field calls from people who think they can buy a house for less than a motorcycle.   Any ideas on that one?  

Posted by Coral Gundlach, Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate. (Compass) over 9 years ago

I'm glad you are addressing this. I'll give you a broker's perspective. 

I think you should rank the priority of the feed source, and if the highest ranked source pulls the feed, such as an MLS or MLS contracted service, then all the postlets and other subrodinate feeds should be pulled. 

It is a nuisance for you, but it is an ethics and liability issue for us. Often it isn't sold, but expired with another broker and relisted with me, and it still shows the old broker as contact!! And most agents can't or won't do the forensics to find every sold listing out there because I frankly don't know all the sources. Our MLS uses Listhub to syndicate our listings. If Listhub pulls it, you should pull the plug on Point2, VLS, and everything else. 

Posted by J. Philip Faranda, Broker-Owner (J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY) over 9 years ago

Sara:  Zillow has to link it with the active status of the MLS # so that this is updated automaticly.  I worked with website designers and this does work with a slight delay.  When I get an expired property I do check with Zillow to see if it is still listed with them.  There are cases as you mentioned were it still is.

Posted by Keith Lawrence, ABR, CDPE, SFR, 203K Specialist (Christie's International) over 9 years ago


Any way to link the various listings by MLS number? If the status changes on one, it would automatically change them all?

I think 180 days would be great. Some sites yank after just a week. PITA!

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) over 9 years ago

#10, Nina- You should have had the choice of no longer for sale or sold?  However, as a back up, we mark things as sold when we get sold data from the county.  The property record should still exist.

#11, Fred - Good or bad, I agree with you, that cat is out of the bag. I am thinking more and more, based on the comments here that counteracting the 'did not know' is going to have to come to an agent via email.  I know agents don't have the time (or desire!) to check every website to see that every comes down, so while we can continue altering site design, I don't think that is the final answer. The 'set it an forgot it' philosophyis what I think too.  But in the last two years, I've also seen agents get a ton better about remembering to take it down out of all syndication services when they no longer represent the listing.  Finally, yes is a way to let humans at Zillow know about errs, click Edit, then Report Problem.

#12, Coral - This one drives me bananas too.  The technical reason it happens is because it is coded wrong in the feed we receive.  One idea we've discussed here is blocking any listings that is for sale for less than a certain amount (say $2000?).  But you risk blocking a few legit for sale listings (mostly land).  However, I think it is worth it.  Thanks for that.  If anyone wants to send their feed provider to me, I'm glad to teach them how to fix this in their feed, it's pretty easy.


Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

#13, Philip - Today, we certainly prioritize MLS feeds above hand enter listing feeds, the best we can.  The problem is when the listing sells.  Because we could be using the MLS data to post the listing, but when the home sells, the MLS data comes down, but the 'subordinate' feed keeps going so the listing stays up.  So maybe there is a way to make a rule that says if a listing comes out of a MLS listing, then block the subordinate feed for that listing?  With regards to old broker's name on a listing, on Zillow, an agent can manually ask that the listing be reassigned to them and one of our customer service reps will look at it and reassign. 

#14, Keith - Yes, I think we need to really investigate this option more.  The problem is, only about a third (very rough guess) of our listings are sourced by MLS data.  But I do think this option would move the quality needle.

# 15, Irene - If every feed gave us MLS number, the answer would probably be yes (and this would be huge in helping with duplicate properties online)! 

Looks like people are liking the 180 day yank!  Thanks for the feedback all! 

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

I would love it if Zillow went back to allowing agents to upload their listings free of charge. Once you went away from doing this, the quality of zillow really went down as your auto MLS feeds to not always work properly. I am not sure why you changed from free to $40 a listing if you want to manually upload one, but it's the highest price in the industry, as most sites let you post for free!

Posted by Ryan Case, 877-828-0710 (SCA Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Hi, Sara, I didn't see an option to choose "no longer for sale" or "Sold". I only saw "sold". That's what I chose and then the listing was removed from Zillow. Why don't you check and see if you get the option and let us know. Also, I can't find any record on Zillow that this listing existed. It was 50 Mountain St., Sharon, MA. Could you please check and see what you can find out. These are the types of problems that Zillow needs to fix. Thank you.

Posted by Nina Rogoff, Sells Real Estate! (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 9 years ago

#18 SCA - Interesting observation.  When it was free about 1-2% of the 4M listings on Zillow were manually entered.  Most of these were VERY stale.  Opting for system much like Craigslist in some larger cities where you charge a nominal fee for data enter brought this number down further, but made the correctness and freshness go up.  Please note it is still free for edit anything that comes to us via a feed.  The situation I see most is that a listing will come to us via a feed and perhap an MLS only allows 16 photos.  The listing can come to us via the feed, and it is totally free for the agent to come on and enhance it with unlimited photos for virtual tour links or open house info.

#19, Nina - The property record is still on the site, here is it. The sold price will show up on it when we get the data from the county records. To mark it as Sold or No Longer for sale = My Zillow tab, Listings, click the Cancel button, in the Home Status drop down, select 'no longer for sale' or 'sold'.  If you select 'sold', you can also provide the sold price.


Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

That still doesnt explain why an agent can't control their own listings? I have 7 listed properties at my office, yet only one shows up. Why is it such a big deal to allow me to input the other 6 without being charged $240 to do so? Does Zillow really need my hard earned $240 that bad? You would think they would be happy just having 6 more QUALITY listings on their site!

Posted by Ryan Case, 877-828-0710 (SCA Real Estate) over 9 years ago

I agree with Greg...and by the way, I do tell all my listing clients that I have no control over what you put out there. 

I really think that I shouldn't have to correct your mostly mistaken information.  I didn't sign up for the "service", and the number of times the information is incorrect would make it highly unlikely to ever do so. 

Posted by Suzanne McLaughlin, Sabinske & Associates, Realtor (Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael)) over 9 years ago

I really dont see the harm in allowing agents and brokers to manually input for free. Is Zillow hurting that much for revenue? I agree with Tom!

Posted by Ryan Case (Pacific Servicing) over 9 years ago

#3 Gino... Greg Nino?

Greg Nino wrote:

"Here's my solution:

Stop taking our listings without our permission. Just because it's legal doesn't make it the best way for you guys to serve us or the public. Instead, charge a Realtor $25.00 for every posted listing."

You gotta wonder does Zillow get Houston listings direct from the MLS?  or from a brokerage feed?  Or does Zillow  just steal Greg Nino's listings?  

I watched your video about the change you have already  made as far as feeds and "claiming."   I have been battling my brokerage over the virtual tours that keep ending up on Zillow... from the brokerage feed and get passed from one person to another.   I sent you a specific question about it via email.

IMHO every site out there is a mess IMHO Zillow is no worse than others...

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) over 9 years ago

I would not yank them after 180 days because I take most of my listings for 12 months. With short sales, the closing period could very well be much longer.

It would be nice to receive an email from Zillow, maybe once a week, with a link to update listings. As it is, I regularly update my listings because it would be considered false advertising if I did not, but not every agent is as diligent.

I've also noticed that Zillow no longer works in Safari. Do you know why?

Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (RE/MAX Gold) over 9 years ago


I have commercial listings in Loopnet and they make me verify the info every 30 days.  If Zillow did that, it would fix a lot of the problems.  I know it wouldn't fix everything right away but it would make it very difficult for stale data to sit around for a long time. 

Secondly, I think there should be an option for agents to feature all their listings with out having to buy some zipcodes.  I think this makes a lot of sense I am giving you my listing, I should be able to make so only my contact info shows up in a manner that allows the consumer to contact me easily. 

We might even consider doing this on a office level, but all the leads go back to the office, why can't the leads go back to the individual agents.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts,


Posted by John Ziemba, Professional Service for Professional Cleints (Keller Williams Team Realty) over 9 years ago

Bottom line - Don't take listings without our permission. Allow us an integrated tool to post them ourselves and update them. Your update feature to mark something pending or sold is cumbersome as well. Your entire system of posting listings and updating them needs revised.

Posted by Christianne O'Malley, Exceptional Service - Delivering Results in Reno! (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) over 9 years ago

Unless they were deliberately put on your site by the original lister, the old listings are your problems not mine. I had one that your site kept advertising for months even though I no longer had it listed and had pulled it from the sites I controlled. If you are going to use my content and photos for your own betterment on your site, then you need to figure out some way to delete them. Most agents do not have the time to go around looking for listings that were taken from them to be placed on another site just to delete them for Zillow's convenience.

On the sites where I, myself, place my listings I have a list that I go over  and I manually take them off once they sell or expire. I do not put my listings on Zillow through my own actions and therefore am not resposible for taking them off. That is just common sense. You list them, you delete them. If you say you got them from other source, then tell them to fix the problem. In any case, I did NOT put them on Zillow and I AM NOT going to waste my time looking for stale ones on your site. You do it!

Several months ago I asked you to put in an "opt out" feature, but you rather curtly replied that that would not help Zillow and "would hurt our customers". Please. When I have a choice I avoid your site. But if you arrange, through whatever means you use, to take my info against my wisheds, the problem is yours. Since your people put them out front as experts on all things real estate, I suggest you spend some of your money on a tech geek who can fix your problem. I find it a bit nervy to ask us to do it for you. If you are not going to listen to our concerns and requests, why would you ever have faith in any of our suggestions for a solution to stale listings.

As other agents have mentioned, when outdated data shows up on a site, it helps me prove to customers that it is better to work from my sites instead.

PS And now you want the MLS number from our feeds. Jeeez,  the next thing you will want a DNA sample from our sellers. Phone numbers, social security numbers, work record. Don't you take and benefit enough from our information as it is???  Too bad we did not.

Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Sara you have a tough issue there. Of course as agents a lot of websites cause us issues due to old listings still showing as active. I have received calls or emails from buyers asking about a certain property and I find that it was sold three years ago.

I have also, on various websites seen my listings advertised as someone elses, not as an IDX but a copying of my listings, many having been sold years ago.

On average most listings are for 6 months, though that can vary, so the six month time frame might work, but how would you handle listings that are relisted for another six months?

And of course that is the issue with any website including Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, IDX and many others. None have all the listings or accurate listing information. Ultimately, it comes down to the only complete and accurate listing information is directly from the MLS.

As long as a site has manual entry and syndication with multiple sources it will likely be impossible to have accurate information.

Posted by Jeff Launiere, Jeff Launiere (Future Home Realty) over 9 years ago

Zillow is a great conversation piece but their accuracy is severely lacking.  In addition to erroneous listings, their Zestimate is often wrong by more than 10% for homes in high-end markets.

As for stale listings, it's really up to the agents to turn off all their syndication on the various sites they use.  I think the reason they leave those sites active though is because it helps improve the perceived level of activity.  If an agent sells all their listings, someone looking on Zillow or other sites sees the agent's profile and thinks "they have no listings, they must not be that good".  By leaving the old ones up, agents can appear busier.

Posted by Bryan Robertson over 9 years ago

Sara. If Zillow, Trulia, Homegain and others had accurate listing data then that would be one more reason why buyers wouldn't need an agent now wouldn't it? We set our buyers up with auto property alerts directly from the MLS as soon as we speak with them. We let them know that this data is the must current and all other sites are just for funsies.

I like Zillow. But I am qiuite happy for your listing data to be out dated.

And I really felt for you in Orlando when you had to tell the attendees at RainCamp that the margin of error for Zestimates in Orlando was 37%!!! Yikes!!

But to answer your question in this post I think I would yank the listing after 180 days.

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) over 9 years ago

I think the best and the most cost effective solution will be to let the poster know in advance that if no change is made within 180 days the listing will be removed automatically.

Posted by Farooq Khan, Real Estate Broker - CDPE (Pacific Realty Partners) over 9 years ago

Sara, there is only 1 way to get accurate listing data:  subscribe to the IDX feed for each and every MLS.  You cannot rely on third-party advertising sources and feeds.  Otherwise, you are in danger of false advertising, and you're a big company so that makes zillow a big target (perceived as having deep pockets).

Posted by Regina P. Brown, M.B.A., Broker, Instructor (MBA Broker Consultants) over 9 years ago

Our MLS is syndicating through point 2 agent, how does this affect your feeds? I no longer manually enter listings but I am sure other syndication still try to override others? 

Posted by Mike Russell, Overland Park Kansas Real Estate (Mike Russell & Associates) over 9 years ago

I don't know - I have my listings hanging out there for months and I didn't upload them. I don't mind them getting posted from the MLS, but then it's nearly impossible to get them removed even when they are sold. Here's one I can't get removed: 5027 Lake Breeze Landing Stow, OH 44224. The house sold in June, and I don't have a way to remove it...buyers are not happy.

Posted by Dawn Maloney, 330-990-4236 Hudson & Northeastern Ohio (RE/MAX Trinity Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist) over 9 years ago

I believe the some sort of "stale" rule should be imposed. Once a listing has reached a predetermined period with out updating (auto or manual), it should be dumped. One of the listing and syndication partners I use require its users to "re-syndicate" every listing periodically or the listing is not fed (updated) to other partner sites. This prevents stale data. If an agent use is on top of their internet marketing plan, they would not allow their listings to depose themselves.

Another solution may be the implementation of a syndication "registry". Don't ask me how it would work, it just sounds like it would be logical!

Maybe one of the fields that should be required on all listings that are fed to the internet should be an expiry date. This of course would require that uniformity and conformity be established by all that operate listing sites.  How cumbersome though would that be that Zillow would have to talk to Trulia, and Trulia would have to talk to Oodle, and Oodle would.....OMG....it could lead to the birth of an internet listing law!  There goes our freedoms! Then again, we already impose some level of conformity inside most MLS's don't we?

Of course, good agents would always, during their Buyer Counseling Session, inform their clients about the effectiveness and efficiencies of conducting internet listing searches. When working with an agent, MLS data will usually be the most accurate information.

Posted by Randy Landis, Overseas Retirement Consultant (Retired in Samar) over 9 years ago

I would say #1, once the MLS or broker feed is out, it's done. If we have a pocket listing, I'm making sure it is on the broker and agent site for you. 

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by Terkel Sørensen, Realtor, 951.805.0773 , Bank owned and Short Sales (Real Estate Places) over 9 years ago

OH, as a follow up - yes, when people pull stuff that closed a year ago - and it is still showing active on the "peripheral" sites, I tell clients to get over on one of my sites - which take the feed from the MLS - and nothing else.. That works for me - but - uhm - then I don't rely on Zillow now do I?

Posted by Terkel Sørensen, Realtor, 951.805.0773 , Bank owned and Short Sales (Real Estate Places) over 9 years ago

If every listing you take on your site has an email attached to it of the listing agent.  You can contact the agent automatically asking for an update every 3 months. 

Posted by Jane Becker, CRS,ASP,ABR,CBR,CDPE,LMC,E-PRO,GRI (Keller Williams Home Team AdvantEdge ) over 9 years ago

I'm glad that you are being proactive here and asking for feedback.  I advertise on Zillow and get many lead which I am grateful for.  I do suffer from the problem of answering questions on stale listings, so this is a huge problem that does need to be addressed.  Since you are getting your feeds from so many different sources I don't think there is one solution that will work for everything.  However, if you were to add a "report a problem" button that was easy to see on all active listings or at least on all listings that are over 180 days old I think that you would find the community would respond accordingly.  You would have to have people actually on your end checking into this within a short period of time, but with a little effort you could get this problem under control.

Posted by Simon Mills (Mills Realty) over 9 years ago

1) We have discussed this before. You were unaware of the feed stream from Baird&Warner for our supposedly premier or enhanced listings. When you said you would chat about this with Charlie in an attempt to put me off, you were unaware that Charlie had already accepted the MRED President position. I had to allow you to try this diversion. You may not recall this, but you said you would get back to me on the feed issues but I do not recall that you did.

2) I went onto Zillow on Friday for my occasional cleanup. Out of 20+ listings that should be correct without intervention from the agent (remember, we pay extra for the listings of 1,600 agents), I recollect that two listings that sold over 90 days ago were still present; they were showing the bairdwarner.com site as the link, not postlets, realbird or anything else. One listing that I have removed three times from Zillow since it went to CB in January continues to mysteriously show up on my active listings. Several listings that have the correct and uploaded photos in vht (I logged in, I checked) still showed snow photos in Zillow. MLS was correct, bairdwarner.com was correct, Zillow was not. At least two listings were just missing. In other listings, prices were wrong, details are wrong or missing, listings are missing. Photos were out of order and did not match the vht feed. Everything goes through the AS 400 and the mls, we couldn't be more structured.

3) Again, despite the fact that Baird&Warner pays for some sort of enhanced version for over 1600 agents, virtually none of the detail data comes through in the listing information. Really easy things, like AC and heat source and roof type. It seems to me that between the mls feed and bairdwarner.com, you have multiple opportunities to get this right. Realtor.com gets virtually all of the listing info right with the exact same feed. Compared to Zillow, our listings look better and are more complete on coldwellbanker.com and remax.com.

4) Every single time I call to try and work these things out, I am badgered by your sales department to upgrade to something else. I'm not sure how much more upgraded we can be. If you believe that you need extra money to accurately represent the details on our 10,000 listings, you should be upfront about this and take it to our Marketing department, not blame the individual agent for not spending more money. Our Marketing department says "call Zillow". Our Help Desk says "call Zillow, we send the information to 1000s of sites, and most get the information represented just fine". Regardless of what we pay for or not, if you claim to be a responsible aggregator site, you are obligated to get the information correct.

Posted by Leslie Ebersole, I help brokers build businesses they love. (Swanepoel T3 Group) over 9 years ago

Interesting that you ask agents for help in solving your problem while in the same breath accusing them of causing it (However, the agent doesn't take it out of all the syndication services they are using)

See, the problem you're having is because your feeds are doing the same thing as you...they are taking our listing info without our permission.  We, as the agent, have no control over that data anymore.  Kinda like it is at Zillow.

Personally, I've had to go on your site numerous times to manually delete, again and again, listings that have been sold for over a year.  Yet, even after I've manually deleted something not once or twice, but at least 3 times, you still put it back up.  I am trying to help you there, and you (meaning Zillow) are slapping me in the face for it.

There have been several good options laid out above.  Many which you've already dismissed.  Basically, you get the info without my express permission or knowledge, it's your problem to handle.

It just makes it easier to show the consumer just how outdated the Internet information really is.

Posted by Roger Johnson, Realtor - Hickory NC Real Estate (Hickory Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Zillow only displays listings that come to us via a feed.  Our system do not proactively go out and get listings.  If you ever want to know the source of a listing, simply scroll to the bottom of the listing page and your see "Listing Source: NAME".  Changing any data there (status, price, descriptions, etc) will ensure the changes show up on Zillow the next time the feed is run.

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

I would go on the MLS feed as priority and if expires there than the agent is contacted if you he is going to reset or let the reset from going back on the MLS.  But the lead input has to come from the MLS only

Posted by Stanley Stepak, Realtor - Avon Lake, Avon, Bay Village, Westlake, (Howard Hanna - Avon Lake, OH) over 9 years ago

#25, Elizabeth - I'll have to check on Safari for you, I don't know.  To be clear, it would probably be 180 days 'without a change'?   What we could do it generate some sort of email for listings in that situation, to alert the agent and ask if an extension is necessary.

 #26, John - That's interesting about Loopnet. Agent's can simply feature a single listing ($39.95 for 6 months). To answer your last question, we'll send leads where ever the feed tells us to (in your case KW sends everything to the agent already, unless your specific office has set something up otherwise?).  Where the lead goes is up the broker.

#27, Christianne - We don't. There are tools on each listing to allow for editing. To update statuses just go to My Zillow, click Listings, and without even clicking into the Listing you can edit the status.

#29, Jeff - "On average most listings are for 6 months, though that can vary, so the six month time frame might work, but how would you handle listings that are relisted for another six months?" I think the key would be 6 months with absolutely no changes to the listings.  Usually there is some change to a listing during that time?  

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago
Sara, bottom line is that my listing does not show up on Zillow as "sold" even though that's what I selected, and in fact, that was the only option I had. Can Zillow correct it, or is there no option for corrections?
Posted by Nina Rogoff, Sells Real Estate! (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 9 years ago

#31, Bryant - :)

#33, Regina - I believe you have to be a Broker to be able to subscribe to an IDX feed(s), which Zillow is not. 

#34, Michael - The trumping order of whose data we use, if we recieve the listing multiple times, is Agent, Broker, MLS, and Syndicates.  Because Point2 gets listings straight for the MLS, we consider them at this level.  So Point2 should trump out any other source you may use.  But if the listing sells and comes out of the MLS (and thus the Point2 feed), it is important it isn't in any other feeds so it doesn't get rewritten back to the site.

#35, Dawn - I just took it down for you.

#36, Randy - "Another solution may be the implementation of a syndication "registry". Don't ask me how it would work, it just sounds like it would be logical!"  We've actually been messing around with something like this, sort of.  We're trying to figure out if there is a way to 'score' feeds and listing freshness would be a big part of that.  And then the partners would have to maintain some set level?  Your right that it wouldn't be easy, but there may be an idea there!  With regards to the second part of your comment, that sort of happens today, where we at least try to be compatible with each others feed formats.  So that at least means that a partner would just have to create one feed that goes to all sites, which helps with consistency. 

#39, Jane - If you've created an account on Zillow (and the email address on your listing matches the email address on your profile - that's how we associate the two together) you should be getting an email with all of your listings every two weeks?



Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

#40, Mike - :)  Thankfor the comment, but if it were that easy to just subscribe, we would! Most (maybe all?) MLSs require that you are a Broker to subscribe, and then most have very specific rules about how the data can be used.  Actually, when Zillow first hit the market we did get Brokerage licenses in each state, even though we didn't do anything with them.  People thought we had some intention to get involved in the transaction because of this (we didn't), so we dropped them as not to perpetuate this notion. 

 #41, Simon - Thanks for being a Zillow advertiser and I am glad to hear you are getting leads! We do have button to report a problem on each listing, but judging from the requests for it in this post, it appears we have to revisit how visable it is.  Looks like we can do better on surfacing it, and we've certainly be ready on our end for a human to double check it. 

 #42, Leslie- 1) I'm sorry, I don't recall this?  Charlie was great to work with on feed issues (still keep in touch with him actually). 2) Actually BW isn't a paying customer of Zillow's, but I'm happy to investigate any specific issues, because you're right that BW's feed is very structured and regular.  Or you can just flag them for our customer service to investigate.  3) You're right that Zillow didn't used to recognize info such as heating and cooling type, but that changed on 8/26 to where we do now.  4) Upgrading would give you more exposure, but it wouldn't affect the actual data. Your customer service and our customer service do talk, so I know both companies are being responsive to each other. 

#43, Roger - We made a change on 8/26 that I think would help the situation you describe.  Prior to this, if you manually took a listing off of Zillow but it was still active in the feed, it would get rewritten to the site because it was still active at the feed source.  Now, if you were to do this, we would disregard this listing in that feed - only reactivating it if you made some sort of change at the feed source, like reactivating the listing. 


Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

None of the places that send you feeds came to you to force you to take them. They were solicited so you could get as many listings on your site as possible. We get it. The more listings the more money for your company. But we as agents were NOT asked if we wanted them there except for a few of the syndicating sites. I told you long ago you need to allow agents to opt out and you refused the idea. So why should I have to take my valuable time to search through a site I did not place my listings on to eliminate those that are no longer active. I spend enough time explaining about the accuracy issues. If you are going to accept the feeds from sites and  not give agents who got the listings, took the photos, and entered the data the option of choosing where it is displayed, then the solution to stale listings is your problem, not ours.

Many of the people here have expressed their sincere concerns with the way things are going, but unfortunately, they tend to be the ones who are demonized and the company is always right.

Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago


I am following up on my previous comment #26.  I am in the process of working with another agent and forming a team.  If you look at our non featured listings my information is way down at the bottom and not consumer friendly.  Looking at the team we will have over 50 listings.  It is not cost effective to pay for every listing at that price to be featured.  The other option was to buy a zipcode and then all our listings would be featured.  However, all the zipcodes in our area are sold out.  I inquired about getting an office price so all the office's listings would featured and was told if we were to do that all the leads would go back to the office, not to the individual agent and there was no way to change this.  If this is incorrect please let me know, because I spoke with Tom for 45 minutes trying to figure out the best options with Zillow.




Posted by John Ziemba, Professional Service for Professional Cleints (Keller Williams Team Realty) over 9 years ago

THANKS!!! I truly appreciate that so much.

Posted by Dawn Maloney, 330-990-4236 Hudson & Northeastern Ohio (RE/MAX Trinity Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist) over 9 years ago

My input is suggesting that Zillow rethink their business model.  They don't offer original content, rather "scraping" the internet and reposting information found there.

It would be terrific if they actually produced a product (informational).

Posted by Cameron Novak, Featured Corona Real Estate Agent Team (The Homefinding Center) over 9 years ago

Some of my buyers have doubted me when I tell them a property has sold  - even though they see it on Zillow and some of the other sites.  So I am right on board with you!

Posted by Laura D. Fleischer (REMAX Coastal) over 9 years ago

Sara - Approximately one year ago, I had a client change their mind about selling their house. I had manually entered it onto Zillow and had the impossible challenge of trying to remove the listing along with my manually entered photos from your site. It was ridiculous and it was NOT easy finding help from your company for my issue. It made ME look bad because it took several weeks before it was resolved. Zillow needs to clean up stale listings and inaccurate data.

Posted by Judy Jennings, Broker - The Lanterns at Warren Woods - Ashland MA (The Green Company) over 9 years ago

Sara, there is nothing more frustrating for a consumer to ask about a listing, then we go to our MLS and find it is sold, expired, withdrawn. This applies to all the national companies not just Zillow.

I work it for my good, I tell them the data is NOT accurate there, and it is best to let me set up a search for them and they will only be sent accurate Active listings, or they can sign up for my IDX search and it also pulls from the MLS nightly. 99% are happy to do this.

Then you get a call that someone wants information on another house, or they send a MLS number they found on Zillow or Trulia. Once again we go to the MLS, and it is sold, expired or withdrawn.

"hey we told you to stop wasting your time there, there is too much inaccurate data."

Your feeds from the MLS will be the most accurate, as I have found most Realtors don't monitor their data anywhere out there, some even in the MLS. Ex..."showings start June 1st, and it is Sept in the MLS."

So you are not going to be able to change Human Behavior ie...agents monitoring their listings.

Here is a question I asked Jeff Turner years ago.

How do sites know which is the authority site? Let's say I list a home, it goes in the Ann Arbor Area MLS, then I do a Vflyer, then I do a RealEstateShow, then it goes in Point2Agent, then it goes into KW which feeds to listhub.

All of these sites give us the syndication feature.

So who is the authority site in terms of sites like Zillow, Trulia,Vflyer et all...????

In my mind the MLS is the authority and should be the authority for a company like Zillow or Trulia, if it is gone from there, then it should be gone from all the syndicated sites.

It is the consumers we are trying to please, right? They want accurate data. Since it is not always right, then I take advantage of it by having them search my site or I set up a Saved Search for them.

I don't not like Zillow or Trulia, heck you never know where a buyer (which portal) they are going to find my listing on. So I have no issues with Zillow or Trulia. I applaud you for trying to find a solution, but the solution is to get Brokers to get you their MLS feed like Remax did.

Now I am going to go blog my comment since I can get 250 points. LOL

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 9 years ago

#57, Missy- I wish I could give you 250 points for that answer!  :)  A lot of great points in it.  Wanted to answer your question about authority.  The answer is that 1) the highest authority is if an agent manually comes to the site and enters something.  2) The second level of authority, is if we receive the listing multiple times, is at the Broker level.  We look at local Brokerages first, then national brands - meaning that if KW Ann Arbor was feeding to us and KW Corporate feeds, we'll go with the local office first (helps when local offices have different operating rules than how their corporate functions).  3) MLS data.  This is if an MLS is feeding to us directly (only a small handful do) or if the MLS is using the services of Listhub or Point2 for their syndication. 4) Lastly are the syndicators.  We do our best to sort of order these within this tier (it is hard, because there are about 500 of them), prioritizing MLS sourced syndicators first and those whose data is hand entered last. 

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

My first job as a buyers agent is to let my potential customer know that the only source of good real estate info is me. Bad info on your site and others makes that job easier. 


I know listing agents that will leave their sign on a property after the home is sold, just to get the occasional call from someone passing by. Others that send out "sold" postcards after a home is sold to let folks know how good they are. I also know agents that take overpriced listings knowing that they wont sell, just to make the phone ring. The potential buyers can always be shown better priced listings.

I see stale listings on Zillow in much the same way. If it makes my phone ring, even if the caller is asking about a stale listing; Thats a good thing


my advice...give priority to info you take from the county land records

Posted by Ron Parise (LocateHomes.com) over 9 years ago

Sad when a listing under contract on a mls feed comes back on or gets relisted by same broker who figures lights are back on at the drive in. Then the image sockets go dark, the video link is missing on realtor.com too and nothing makes the leap back on line. Check the displays, scroll down thru and see the missing pieces you have on a hard drive you thought we on line and are not. Black out is not fun when a seller  of the property noticed is...and it has been eclipsed for a long long time. Tend the listing sheep.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 9 years ago

Sara:  This is a great discussion.   I like comment # 26.  A quick solution!  Verify data with listing every 30 days.   It sounds "high maintenance" - but it will prove accuracy.   I am currently working on this same subject from the other end of the spectrum.   I'm on our MLS Board's technology committee.   We are trying to determine if LIST HUB syndication of our MLS data will TRUMP every other syndication & feed (for accuracy).....we are waiting for answers to make a final decision.

Posted by Christine Bohn, The Bohn Team, Gainesville FL (RE/MAX Professionals) over 9 years ago

As I said when this was featured two weeks ago. You pull in the feeds from other sites without our permission, you make money off our material, you are the self-proclaimed experts in real estate, then YOU find the answer to your problem. Other free sites do it, should not be rocket science. But in any case, it is not our problem. It is clearly yours.

Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

I have found the "Real Estate Book" websites to be a frequent source of stale data.

I think you would be on track if you could buy the MLS feeds, and use them as the most updated status source. Aslo would be good if you could update photos as they are updated at the source.

Posted by Jeanne Dufort, Madison and Lake Oconee GA (Coldwell Banker Lake Country) over 9 years ago

When my listings are sold I go in to update, but sometimes it is still there from another source...I have emailed Zillow to mark it sold, with no response.  I am not sure how you get your information besides MLS and Postlets.  It also seems when I put something on Postlets, Zillow should be able to sort it to have only one not two postings.

Posted by Annie Collyer (Sherwood Property Investments) over 9 years ago

Require listings to be renewed every 3 months. For a 6 month listing, this is only 1 renewal. This would also mean that the stalest of listings is only 3 months old. Pretty simple for all parties involved.

Posted by Geordie Romer, Serving Leavenworth, Lake Wenatchee, and Plain (Windermere Real Estate / NCW) over 9 years ago

I purposely don't update anything on Zillow so I can use it as a teaching moment to my clients to once again remind them that Zillow is for entertainment purposes only and the data is not real. Why would an agent help you make our jobs harder. My goal is to make sure everyone knows that the data on Zillow is a joke.

Posted by Andrew Martin (REMAX Accord) over 9 years ago

Dear Sara...

making Zillow or any other listings syndicator into an error free listings invironment is pretty much impossible as long as you are taking feeds from all kinds of sources without qualifying and ranking them properly...

I am certain you know already that you need to look at your data feed partners, categorize their feeds and give them a relevancy or accuracy ratings number - ranging from 10(best) to 1(worst) - and apply or use the data provided accordingly. Here are the most relevant suppliers:

1. MLS supplied data (that includes Listhub & Listingbook, and any other source fed by a MLS)
2. Manually supplied data by agent (only relevant for non MLS listings and to enhance MLS listings)
3. Automatically supplied data by agent's website (only relevant for non MLS listings and to enhance MLS listings)
4. Other syndicating sources by relevancy and accuracy rating (only relevant to enhance any type of listing)

Number 1. (MLS feeds and sources fed by them directly) These feeds should always override every and any other source since they are the most accurate source... but only for listings with an MLS number... and these listings should be updated daily or weekly via an automated data check to reflect status changes in a timely manner... AND!!! you should allow agents to improve their MLS listings by letting them add or change photos, descriptions, open houses... which you do now anyhow...

Number 2. & 3. (Agent supplied data) This data should only be allowed for non MLS listings and only to enhance listings with MLS numbers - such non MLS listings (exclusives and pocket listings) should be shown as such by giving them a different color scheme and a disclaimer... AND!!! you you should automatically remove them after 90 days if they are not confirmed or edited within that time period by the agent...

Number 4. (data supplied by other syndicators) should only be accepted if they are not duplicates of above... AND!!! they should not be allowed to override any of the data entered by MLS fed sources... only to enhance them...

I don't know if that is technically feasible or "politically" possible... because it would turn you effectively into Realtor.com...

As it stands right now... I personally go to my free Zillow agent panel (and other major syndicators for that matter) and update my listings every time there is a status change... this is currently the only way to assure that my listings are accurately represented... many agents don't or cannot do it for a variety of reasons - here are the top five:

1. they just don't have the time
2. they are technically challenged and cannot do it themselves
3. they are oblivious to or are not aware of that their listings are being syndicated
4. they do not see the value of marketing listings through third party syndicators
5. they don't want to participate in cleaning your data up for you

But hey...nothing is perfect... and I personally really don't mind getting a call or email from a prospect inquiring about a listing that is outdated... I'll just tell them the actual status of that "listing" and then direct them to something similar that is actually active... it's still a lead to me no matter what they inquire about... and if I deal with it in the right way this lead / prospect may recognize how important it is to work with a qualified professional that can supply them with valid data...


Posted by Phyllis Lerner call 914.438.7556, William Raveis Legends Realty Group (William Raveis Legends Realty Group LLC) over 9 years ago

Hi Sara - I think it is great that you are asking for Agent's input. I personally like the "If a listing is on the site for 180 days with no changes at all, pull it down.". 

We remove listings from our feeds that haven't been updated in 90 days and it has helped.  Too often Agents don't come back and update/remove listings after they are sold.  Our system automatically sends email alerts to our Agent members if their listing hasn't been updated in 90 days and if they don't log into the system and update it, the listing is removed from the feeds.  Seems like if a listing hasn't been updated even with a price update in 180 days, it is most likely stale.

I think it is the responsibility of the syndicator to remove stale listings from their feeds.  They should be sending their clients email notices, etc. about stale listings.

Posted by Misty Lackie, Real Estate Advertising (Go Smart Solutions, LLC) over 9 years ago

The only feed you should rely on is the local MLS feed. That means you'll have to join them all, but that's what you claim to have...is all the listings. Multiples have rules to control the timeliness of their information. Individual sites don't. Agents just might leave some hot listing up because it produces calls.


Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago

How about interacting with MLS and taking over their status info?

After constant trouble with Zillow and like kids over pricing recommendations, etc etc I bet that if you communicate with the MLSystems and via taht with the brokers they would welcome this info sharing, it is for the best for all of us

Posted by Annette Sievert, Corvallis, Oregon (CB Valley Broker) over 9 years ago

1) the highest authority is if an agent manually comes to the site and enters something.

So the question becomes is the agent who has the highest authority leaving them in there? If so then it would be advantages for Zillow to email them after 90, 120 etc days and ask them to delete it if expired or withddrawn, with a link in the email do to is quickly and easily.

3) MLS data.  This is if an MLS is feeding to us directly (only a small handful do) or if the MLS is using the services of Listhub or Point2 for their syndication. 

Ok I would figure out a way to get the local feeds from the local boards, a huge task but can be done. As you know all MLS Associations have different rules. For us in Ann Arbor each Vendor that wants it can pay 1500.00 one time fee and get our raw data feed. Easy for us. 


I know it is not simple with 500 Vendors bringing feeds in but IMO this is the biggest glitch as I said, most agents list and forget.



Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 9 years ago


It happens to me frequently. What seems to be the feedback is for example..a listing I had maybe 4 yrs ago is still showing up even if I deleted it from any source...I'm still getting calls to this day on one and have to explain to the caller why. For example...it was on wither postlets or vflyer but the html is posted on AR as well. I do usually type in its sold but either the consumer is not reading it or other sites that pick it up do not automatically change it. So its a two way street..we want maximum exposure everywhere but some sites that I do not even post on are picking the listings up and never change the status. I would think Zillow would just update it according to our MLS. This way when our status is changed...Zillow would automatically change it to the same. I'm not sure this makes sense.

Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (Brokered by eXp Realty LLC) over 9 years ago

Hi Sara,

With a 180 expiration you would soon have very few listings.  

I list homes for 1 year because it takes, on average, 270 days in my area to sell a home when you calculate the current sold listing.  That doesn't include the 2, 3 or 4 times some homes have been listed for sale.  Since 270 days is an average we have some that sell in 0 days.  I looked at a home today that has been on the market for 1,200  days.  We have short sales that have been on the market for 3 years.

If agents aren't updating their information now they certainly won't start updating it anytime soon. 

Posted by Maya Thomas, Broker, Please see my client recommendations. over 9 years ago

A client called me yesterday and said "I know you've told me not to look at listings on Zillow but I just found this house that I love....."

And of course it was sold back in NOVEMBER 2009. Like others have said, it really only gives me more legitimacy.

I like the idea of 180 days and gone or emails to the listing agent, no response, it goes.

Posted by Julia Odom, Chattanooga Homes for Sale (Select Realty Professionals) over 9 years ago

#62, Christine - Good luck with your decision.  A very small trend I am seeing now is more MLSs considering doing syndication themselves, to have more control.  But the customer service third parties provide is nice too. 

#64, Corrine - I don't know the exact MLS coverage we have, but I would guess it to be about 75%?  Also with Listhub it is up to the Broker to decide whether or not to syndicate, so some agents need other alternatives if their broker doesn't do it. 

#65, Jeanne - You're right.  But they recently changed some of their policies, so they are a lot better (not 100% yet though).  I can't remember what they are doing now exactly, but I think it was something like you can enter all of your listing in their system and they stay up for 30 days, then after that they need to be actively advertised in a book.  I could be a little off on that description, but I know they did make some changes lately that purged a lot of old stuff.

#66, If you take it off Postlets, it will come off Zillow.  If you scroll to the bottom of the listing, you'll see the data source.  You're right about the duplicate data, that is ideally how it should work, but it doesn't always.  One reason I see this often is if a unit number isn't entered in the Postlets, then we don't know to deduplicate it. 

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

#69, Phyllis - Thanks for the detailed response!  Your suggestion are pretty close to what we do.  The manually entered data being the exception because usually the agent is paying for that extra advertising (manually entered listings are featured), so we want to make sure we are honoring that.  Your #4 is the heart of the matter and what you describe happens today.  The issue arises when the listing is gone from those other sources, but still in the #4 bucket. One thing we try to at least do here is seperate the syndicators into MLS-sourced and non MLS-sourced. 

#73, Missy - I just headed over to your blog post about this and answered your questions, plus some! :)

#74, Annoynmous - Would love more details please?  What are they doing differently that you like?


Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

General comment -

Hey all - Thanks to everyone who submitted constructive suggestions.  I can assure this blog post and more importantly the comments, have been seen by a lot of people at Zillow this week.  Many emails have been flying around trying to figure out how to implement the things you are discussing here and I will be sure to do a blog post to let you know the results of it as soon as I can!

The 180 day with NO CHANGES pull is the easiest to implement.  After a lot of discussion this idea has evolved into not pulling it at all if the source is a MLS or Broker.  But if it is a syndicator, then putting that time trigger in place. So building different rules for different types of feeds.

A cross reference engine is more complicated to build, but we are investigating.  We've started the process of scoring syndicators for quality, but it needs a lot of work. Emailing the agents seems to be a popular suggestion here, but there are some legal hurdles of what we can and can't do with the email addresses we receive in the feed, but your interest will make us further investigate.  If you create a free profile on Zillow, you can recieve updates now about your listings every two weeks.

But I'll be in touch with these ideas! Thanks and have a good weekend.


Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) over 9 years ago

Agents using third-party syndication services do have a tendency to "set and forget".   We allow a manually-input listing to run 30 days. It's then automatically retired into a sandbox (isn't distributed) and the agent is notified they must sign in and renew for the next 30 day period. If they don't renew during the next 30 days, the listing is permanently expired from our database.

On search engines which allow us to provide expiration dates, we tend to set them short so if a listing gets sandboxed, it isn't likely to persist on those search engines for long (assuming the search engine actually expires when we request it) -- probably for no more than a week at a time, advanced daily when we are re-polled.

What largely determines whether dead listings continue to be distributed is whether or not expiration is dependent on the agents to remove them. Good luck with that! ;)

Judging a listing "stale" after 180 days because it hasn't "changed" is simply arbitrary and bears no relationship to reality -- particularly in this market.  How many homes are selling today in 180 days or less, unless at a deep discount?  Do all agents with active listings actually go in and make changes on all their listing content at least every 180 days?

As to rating independent feed providers, please resist the temptation to go the google-geek route by trying to invent a fancy math "algo" to answer that question. It isn't that complicated, since local expiration policy and methods mainly determine whether dead listings will continue to be published by a feed provider.  If the policy is porked, so will be the result

The listing agent is the sole authority for content and listing status, and a listing should never continue in distribution unless the listing agent actively confirms it remains "active".  If they have a habit of overtly fibbing, you likewise have a business decision whether to continue allowing them to "claim" their listings if those claims too-often prove to be bogus.

But instead of belaboring your long-suffering engineers with the intellectually interesting but completely loss-making task of coming up with some kind of "measure" showing which providers are most reliable, why not just send each of them a questionnaire to inform you how they manage expiration? 

There are four possible responses to your inquiry:

1. They don't respond at all to your email after two attempts.  Solution: quit polling them.

2. They respond that they entirely rely on the agent to disable the listing to expire it.  Solution: same as above (but offer counseling).

3. They respond that they expire after such an extended time period that it's almost certain they'll be sending dead listings. Solution: advise them to shorten it. If they don't, then revert to the solution cited above.

4. They respond that they expire listings after a sufficiently short time period (we recommend very short) to assure zombie listings are a virtual impossibility. Solution: none required.

'Not a complete answer to all problems, perhaps.  But it is one of life's most valuable lessons that people do what you inspect, not what you expect.  If local policy isn't enforced by the feed provider to produce the outcome you want, you are perfectly entitled to require that local policy be amended so you get more of what you want and less of what you don't want.

Yes, getting those email responses from 500 providers would probably take some clerical time to sort through and triage.  In my experience, clerical hours are in abundant supply and cost far less than engineering hours which are not.

I expect you won't receive 500 responses.  After further sorting the wheat from the chaff, you'll likely have far fewer than 500 approved feed providers.  Cull the herd.  Hard.  Those of us who focus on doing it right aren't rewarded if doing it utterly wrong is equally acceptable.

Someone here or elsewhere suggested Zillow add an expiration tag.  Yes.  If a feed provider is being polled daily, Zillow should also shorten that expiration to a week.  Getting dead listings off the inventory requires short interval scheduling to make that happen as fast as possible.

There are a number of entirely valid reasons agents choose to use third-party syndication services.  Unfortunately, some agents also tend to believe the more places they post, the better their syndication results. There is considerable evidence weighing against that belief, but that's far off the topic of the OP.

Thanks, Sara, for bravely wading into deep water.  You (and Zillow) are to be supremely complimented for asking how to make things better.

Posted by Anonymous Provider over 9 years ago

Sara, go ahead and yank the listing after 180 days (or whatever the suggestion was). With numerous sites to track, sounds fair.

Now, when listings are on the MLS- different story. I'm guessing that Fred is hugely mistaken re. MLS data being as bad as an ancillary site like Zillow, Trulia, etc.- I've made a single call to our MLS guy and he responds immediately- and the problem gets resolved. So, the issue that Zillow poses for me is, as a PAYING ZILLOW PARTICIPANT (I'm not- but for those who upgraded): why is my listing on a site with absolutely no authority themselves to insure data that my buying clients might view, amongst the unvetted listings/expired/sold showing up?

Public records in Suffolk County, NY take 45-90 days to appear, if that's what you use in conjunction with diligent NY Realtors. I'm not certain that reported closings from July work. I had a for sale by owner call last week. She had based her listing price on your figures. Would that make you the entity who should console her after the foreclosure?

Greg's comment was so appropriate. I'm paying my MLS and board dues shortly. I want my seller's properties to be overseen in a way that makes the #s provided to buyers legitimate, so it's worth every penny. Your site takes a listing, allows competitors to pay YOU (not me, even though it's my clients house, my listing) to appear to represent it (or, an entire area)- not sure the concept is good anymore. But, your maps are fantastic, as are the property photos, provided a Realtor has entered them. Otherwise, not so much.

AN EDIT: maybe I should send a note along with my dues to MLS and my local board, and suggest that they PLEASE send our feed to Zillow...so that Zillow can charge me again! Note to self...

Posted by Laurie Mindnich over 9 years ago

... dear Sara... forgot to bring up one other issue... stale listings are really not your biggest problem... your Zestimate home value estimator needs some serious re-thinking... it gives it's users some seriously flawed value estimates... boy-o-boy are they off...

Posted by Phyllis Lerner call 914.438.7556, William Raveis Legends Realty Group (William Raveis Legends Realty Group LLC) over 9 years ago


I don't have an answer to your question however just wanted to say how much I LOVE ZILLOW and being a premier agent! There is more success in that than an open house any day of the week!

Posted by Erika Hansen, CRS (Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group) over 9 years ago

I have tried for 2 years to get my personal ressidence that closed over 2 years ago out of being FOR SALE on Zillow.  I haven't been practicing real estate there or living there for 2 years.  NOTHING I try works, and I have other dead listings still showing up years later. See for yourself, my home at 2601 Jewelstone Court, Fort Collins, CO 80525 closed 8/01/08.  Any attempts I have made to communicate with someone at Zillow to remedy the situation have been futile...

Posted by Janna Scharf, Coeur d'Alene Idaho Real Estate Expert (Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene) over 9 years ago

Sara, sorry for the repost from early this afternoon, but the issue is more than should we let all listings expire in 30, 60, or 90 days.


The simple realty is Zillow has the listing agents info and can easily send out an alert that their listing is about to expire, if you want to extend it another 30 days click here.

I understand the rational of who has the most listings to attract consumers but now that it's you and Yahoo and you are #1 it would be nice to see a leadership role.

This mornings question was Who has the authority, for the new folks who are just catching up with this thread now thats it's featured, I fell it's worth repeating. Thanks for indulging me.


Who has the authority?

The answer is whoever initiated the original listing is the authority for the information. Now let's talk about the problems:

1. Each of the individual sites is a business onto themselves and what they do with the data must comply with their own local policies which are publicly provided. No one has the authority to change the listing information except for the listing agent and or their broker. None of the engines will make any substantial changes to the data itself other than formatting.

2. The MLS's are pretty good as well as many independent vendors, but what happens is that each engine may have a different policy.

There is the policy but now lets discuss the reality.

Most will expire in a reasonable time. In fact you can set an expiration date as a syndicator for some of the engines (at least the top ones). Will the engines duly expire the listings as expected is anyone's guess. It will usually come down to the integrity of the site and obviously the ones with the best quality, technology and customer service will do the best job and win competitively in an open market. The moral hazard that exists is there is no penalty to the search engines for failing to do so.

3. The problem in regard to expirations is sometimes properties don't expire or some unprofessional organizations continue to push out listings that either they never got the notification or they are pushing it because of bad technology or incompetence.

4. Agents are notoriously bad at removing listings after a sale. The good syndicators will auto expire after 30 days and send out e-mail alerts to agents to extend the listing.

5. The bigger issue is this, have you have you ever taken a listing only to have client say that can't find it and they think you are incompetent. That because it is extremely easy for errors and omissions to take place that even the competent agent won't be aware of because they are not using a syndicator that is provided them error reports. This could be as simple as failing to provide the bedrooms and bathrooms.

If you post in all caps, exclamation points in the caption, or multiple exclamation points in the text goggle promises to fail your listing. That's just an example of what most agents don't know.

What you should be asking your syndication provider is if they provide reporting to you about errors in your listings that will make them fail at one or more engines.

If you are the agent and the only one with the authority to change that listing and you are not getting these reports then your listings failures will continue until you change them.

Even if you have feedback reporting from the few engines providing them, you still don't know if your listing fails from the other engines and you will get embarrassed by a client asking why it's not showing up. 

In the end the agent that is responsible for the listing and the more syndication providers they use, the more work they have unwinding when a listing expires and the reality is that many do not. This even occurs on MLS boards.

If you are going to use a syndication provider be sure to ask if they auto expire within a reasonable time.

The last part is to select a provider that can provide you with a report that you can give to your client showing hits and visits to all sites.

<Sara> BTW, I think 180 days is way to long and Zillow should reevaluate that. 

The simple realty is Zillow has the listing agents info and can easily send out an alert that their listing is about to expire, if you want to extend it another 30 days click here. 

Also list Hub charges 4k a month to carry their data, which is probably not much for zillow but for other sites it's prohibitive.

Posted by Marlo Newman, Marlo Newman Mortgage Banker 480-326-9858 (W.J. Bradley Mortgage Capital) over 9 years ago

Sara, our average listing is 180 days - although some agents said they take longer listings. Yanking at that time will take care of many listings that are sold.  Listening to the MLS and/or Broker site makes sense and if that trumps the secondary sites, your data will be more accurate.

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) over 9 years ago

Janna:  Sara can put you in contact with her collegue Spenser Rascoff.  He can take care of the problem.

I look at it this way, you do not have correct information on your site, I do.  I have the MLS, you don't.  Why would I make your business model that competes with mine a success?  I tell all clients that it's inaccurate (hence this post) and that I will just put them into a reliable search in the MLS. Just like Broker Bryant mentions.


Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 9 years ago

I actually don't mind the inaccuracies. I've learnt to make lemonades out of lemons. I say this respectfully.

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co.) over 9 years ago

Hello Sara,

The solution to your problem lies within the key relationships between the data tables that make up your database. The trumping logic that you have described does have merit, but it is lacking an overall connection.

Please see the email I will send shortly. Thanks.

Posted by Joshua Katz over 9 years ago

Hi Sara,

As a Real Estate Marketing Company, we syndicate listings and virtual tours. I believe that we supply one of the cleanest feeds out there because the integrity of our feed is important to our company, but more importantly to our clients, ensuring that the most up to date accuarate data is available to all of the sources we reach.

Although we are a small company, we are growing, and hope to provide our service to more folks. Hopefully Zillow and others would look to a smaller company like ours for the quality of our feed vs. the larger volume feed providers first. You may find that the chance of errors is smaller and the "stale data" dilemma is limited.

In order to keep our feeds clean and up to date, we make sure to actively communicate and involve our agents...something that a lot of the larger syndicates fail to do

It is my opinion that some of these larger volume feeds are just in it for the volume, rather than doing what is in the best interest of the clients they serve. I find that the statistical data is a bit fuzzy or just plain inaccurate and misleading.

It's interesting that Point2 and ListHub override some of the smaller feeds, just because they do get some broker/mls clients. Much of the Point2 listing data comes from their free agent service, which doesn't do much for solving the "stale listing" problem, especially if you are treating them as if it comes from the MLS. I think that alone may be harming Zillow.

Agents are busy. They also have been told, that the more places they put their listings, the more places it will be delivered. Unfortunately, all that does is muddy the syndication waters further, and leaves more places to clean up or follow-up. Agents may even find it hard to remember where they 'posted' their listings, thus making it hard to update a sold property.

Communication directly from the syndicate to the agent is key.  It shouldn't be Zillows job to contact all the listing agents and remind them to update their listings. It should be the responsibility of the companies that feed the listings to Zillow, to keep in touch with their agents/clients, and manage the integrity of their own feeds.

It is Zillows responsibility to make sure they are accepting feeds from syndicates that make it a key business practice to communicate directly with their clients and take ownership of providing a clean and accurate feed.

Posted by Jennifer over 9 years ago



So you want to solve the issue of stale listings?  The way you do this is to give us an option where we can detach the property from a feed and attach our own feed source.  We need to be able to control where the content to our listing is coming from.  This way we can do one of two things.


1) we can then manage our listing through the feed by updating our site, which in turn feeds zillow any changes.


2) we can then manage the property manually if no feed is selected.  However, with this option there will be a host of other options to help avoid stale listings...such as:

the option to select how often an agent should sign in to zillow in order to keep the manual listing overriding the feed (the amount of time should be determined by the agent but capped at a maximum of 180 days).

The option to select when to revert to the feed if certain criteria arent met...for example, if no changes to the listing have been made in the past six months (i.e. price drop or status changed to sold) and the listing agent hasn't signed in then it's time to reattach the feed and see if there has been a sale or a change in the listing, then update it at that point and keep it on the feed until the agent returns to manually override the feed.  Honestly, if no changes have been made in the past six months then the listing really should be pulled from the site because the seller/agent aren't making a realistic effort to sell the home by not dropping the price or adding photos or remodeling the home...whatever it takes to get it sold.

If an agent isn't keeping on top of their listing they probably aren't very good and will probably be fired by the owners at some point and another agent will take over the listing and they need the ability to change the feed source to their website so that they don't have to continually log into Zillow if they want to just control the listing via the feed and make all their changes at the feed origin (their listing website).


Why is this so hard?  Feel free to contact me if you have more issues, I'm sure there will be more questions, but it isn't that hard...you revert to the feed if the manual method is stale for a predetermined amount of time, and you rely on the agent to be professional enough to set a realistic timeframe for certain "trigger" events to take place such as reverting back to the feed.  In some cases you'll have an owner that will want to control the listing or want to make some changes...at this point they will need to make the changes...an e-mail is sent to their agent and they will okay them or deny them...it's not that hard...but at this point a dialogue is taking place between the agent and owner.  if the owner wants to drop the price they make the changes on the website just like the listing agent and if after 3 days if no response is had from the agent then the changes are applied...if the agent comes back to a messed up listing then they can "undo" the last change that was made by the owner or "revert back" to their original listing.   If an owner is unhappy with an agent there should be an icon "fire this agent" and then the agent should be removed from the website and the listing should then become the property of the owner and if they decide to no longer list it or mess the listing up that's their thing...they own the property, right? 

I guess this would put in place the checks and balances needed for the owners of properties not to feel like second rate citizens...I mean if I want my agent signing in every day otherwise the listing reverts back to the live feed, I deserve to have them deny my request and call me on the phone and tell me that isn't going to work for them for reasons x,y and z.


It's so simple, but there are just a lot of changes that need to take place.  The right balance of checks need to be made and they just arent there right now.

It seems right now an owner can't make any changes to a listing once an agent has claimed it regardless if they are the right agent or not.  Plus, what about owners that pay a fee to have their listing put on the MLS but don't have representation?  They should be able to "Fire this agent" and then take over the listing from there.  It makes it so that an owner is first in line and the agent is second in line...because if an owner has a falling out with an agent it can get ugly and the last thing you want is a zillow property battle between an owner and ex-listing agent.





Posted by Robert Capetillo over 9 years ago