I recently did an interview with ListHub.com in an effort to help their clients better understand Zillow, as we are one of the many sites to which they syndicate. If you are looking for a way to automatically upload your listings to a number of sites, quick and easy, their free syndication service is defintely something you should check out.
Here are some excerpts from the interview, my answers are the non-bolded text:
Zillow currently has 3 million listings on the site. What is your objective in collecting all of this listing data?
Zillow is a data and info site where millions of consumers,more than 5 million a month, come to get their real estate questions answered. Whether that question is "what is my home worth" or "what type of mortgage rate can I get" to "what is for sale in my neighborhood" or, increasingly, "who is the right professional for me". All of this consumer traffic makes Zillow a unique and important marketing platform for real estate professionals. With Zillow's listing program, the agent can display up to 50 photos per listing, link to virtual tours, display their photo and all kinds of contact information -- phone numbers, email addresses, website links. Any leads from listings and/or profile pages are all sent to the listing agent for free.
If all of these leads and exposure are free, what's in it for Zillow?
This answer is easy -- advertising. Just as it is a goal of a newspaper, magazine or TV network to create interesting content and then sell relevant advertising around it, that is Zillow's business model as well. We have so much data on the site that allows us to put together some very interesting campaigns to best serve the client. For example, John Deere recently ran a campaign to sell riding lawn mowers. Their ad was targeted to appear only on homes that had a lot size of 1.5 acres or more. The advertising solutions are flexible enough to cater to the individual Realtor who wants to advertise an open house for one week in one ZIP code, to a large brokerage who wants a long-term, national exposure campaign.
On Zillow, buyers want to see which homes are for sale. Zillow offers real estate professionals a free way to get exposure to the millions of Zillow users and in return, Zillow gets great content to show consumers. The more great content we either create (like Zestimates) or aggregate (like listings), the more people use our site. The more they use our site, the more advertising inventory we have to sell. It is a win-win for both parties.
The site is very popular with home buyers and sellers, but just how accurate is the information that you are giving them?
I assume you are talking about Zestimates here, because when we get listing information from MLSs, the For Sale information is highly accurate. Nationally, Zestimates are quite accurate and have a median margin of error of 10.6%. We are very transparent about our accuracy numbers throughout the site. Zillow is the only home valuation site that actually publishes our accuracy numbers down to the county level. To see local information, please visit the About Zestimate Values and Accuracy chart found at the bottom of every Zillow page.
All that said, Zestimates are a starting point -- not an ending point. Consumers who use our site understand this idea. However, next to every Zestimate we link to a page which explains what the Zestimate represents and tells the user they should consult a real estate professional for more accurate information.
We also use the listing feed to help with pushing the most relevant information to the viewer. When a listing is fed to Zillow, we tag the property as being for sale and replace the Zestimate number on the map, in the search results, and at the top of the listing detail page with the For Sale price. This gives the sales price a much higher level of exposure than our Zestimate number.
Once the ListHub feed is in place, does the listing agent have to do anything on Zillow?
No, all of the listing information will be online and updated daily, along with any contact information sent over in the feed. This is the tremendous value that ListHub brings. Since ListHub is MLS-connected, there is no manual entry, and there is no need to worry about incorrect information displaying on Zillow. However, agents should definitely go to Zillow and create a free profile and upload their picture. When they do this, their photo will appear on all of their listings automatically. The photo will link to their profile page, which can contain marketing text, a link to their personal Web site and links to all of their other listings on Zillow. When setting this up, it is important that the agent uses the same e-mail address they use in the MLS so that ListHub picks it up in the feed, as this is how we match up the listings and the profiles. This added exposure is free to all agents.