Zillow is smart. They are building their Board of Advisors with key decision makers in the industry.
Zillow is well aware that franchises are contractually required to submit listings to the franchisor, and in most cases, the franchisor can syndicate listings whereever they want. The data feed from franchisors like REALOGY Brands, Keller Williams, and RE/MAX are vital for long term assurance of listing count on Zillow. This also demonstrates Zillow’s disposition to surround itself with stakeholders in their mutual success. It also may deflect some of the local broker’s choice in syndicating listings to publishers.
Century 21 has a reporting and syndication solution called The Golden Ruler.™ My understanding is that the CENTURY 21 agent/broker can opt out individual listings from syndication, but not opt out all listings by turning it off. My understanding is that Coldwell Banker franchises are automatically included in some syndication like Zillow, but have choices on other syndication channels. My understanding is that ERA franchises have complete control over their listing syndication. Listing input is managed by a REALOGY tool called CREST. Listing syndication is managed by Listhub. These business rules change all of the time, so my understanding may not be current – but you can get a picture that all franchises have different rules. We spend an awful lot of time helping brokers understand how listings get to publisher websites, and the differences in rules applied to each feed.
If a Century 21 franchise sends listings to Zillow today via the MLS listhub feed, or via a broker feed, or via a newspaper feed, or via a virtual tour feed, competing agents may be displayed on the listing unless the agent or broker “claims” the listing on Zillow or pays to enhance the listing. If the listing is provided by the REALOGY CREST feed powered by Listhub, only the REALOGY listing agent is displayed on the listing. This is a big benefit to brokers who feel strongly about agent representation on broker listings. The link also goes back to the Franchise website – which helps the Franchise but undermines the link back to the listing broker. There are many variables that are moving all of the time – its hard to keep up. Some industry leaders have indicated that REALOGY receives a revenue share when brokers enhance their listings on publisher website (WAV Group has not been able to confirm this rumor).
Press Release from December:
Zillow, Inc., announced that Bev Thorne, Chief Marketing Officer at CENTURY 21 Real Estate LLC, has joined Zillow’s Broker Advisory Board, which provides counsel on existing Zillow® services for the real estate industry, and evaluates ideas for future products and services.
Thorne leads the planning and execution of the domestic marketing strategies in support of market share growth for CENTURY 21®, the franchisor of the world’s largest residential real estate sales organization. She is responsible for leading the strategy development and program execution of all consumer, broker and agent marketing programs.
“We’re thrilled to have Bev Thorne on the Zillow Broker Advisory Board. Her expertise in marketing, branding and technology will add valuable insight to our planning and development efforts,” said Zillow’s Chief Revenue Officer Greg Schwartz. “During the past two years, the board has provided guidance to us through the successful launches of our redesigned search results pages, Agent Reviews and Zillow Special Offers. We are proud to have the support of this diverse and experienced team of real estate professionals.”
The members of Zillow’s Broker Advisory Board are 13 influential leaders in the real estate industry who are actively involved in running their respective companies:
- Ken Baris, president of Jordan Baris
- Dan Barnett, senior vice president of marketing at NRT LLC
- Jim Cahill, executive vice president and chief information and technology officer of Terra Holdings, LLC
- Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC
- Joe Deasy, co-president and an owner of Windermere Real Estate/East, Inc.
- Dan Elsea, president of Real Estate One Family of Companies
- Michael Fischer, senior vice president of marketing at Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC
- Dick Fulton, executive vice president of Coldwell Banker Bain | Seal
- Mike Montsko, president of Weichert Lead Network
- Chad Ochsner, broker/owner of RE/MAX Alliance
- Bev Thorne, chief marketing officer of Century 21 Real Estate LLC
- Rick Turley, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s San Francisco Bay Area Region
- Mark Woodroof, managing partner of Prudential Gary Greene
I’m very happy for Bev personally, but I’m concerned about a potential conflict of interest. How will Bev be able to objectively advise her franchisees about their individual listing syndication strategies when she is beholden to Zillow at some level? On the other hand, maybe it will allow her to be able to affect positive change on behalf of her franchisees by being part of the “inside’. It will be interesting to see if Century 21 adjusts their corporate listing syndication strategies and their relationship with Zillow in the coming months.
Very smart move on Zillow’s part. They saw what happened with Trulia’s former board members who were Realty Alliance members and said let’s go after the national franchise companies because they don’t know any better and are easier to manipulate. Trulia learned its lesson the hard way because it hurt their IPO and which caused Sami to resign from his position as President. The end result though is that for NRT/Realogy/Weichert/ReMax/KW still water down their their rankings on the search engines which costs these companies money over the long term and branding power but the corporations don’t care because its at the expense of the franchises and they are obtuse to the negative impact they feel as a result of giving away their data to their competition.
Thanks for the comment, Doug. How do you see Listing Syndication playing out for Big Brands (franchises) and Big Brokers in the future? Syndication only represents 5-10% of online consumer engagement for brokers. Is this all much ado about nothing?