Zillow Inc. and ListHub operator Move Inc. have reached a long-term agreement under which Zillow.com will continue to receive data on roughly 2 million for-sale listings aggregated by ListHub from hundreds of multiple listing services.
Under the terms of the agreement, Zillow will now provide ListHub with metrics on the page views and leads those listings generate, which ListHub can include in reports its sells to agents, brokers and MLSs.
It’s the first major syndication agreement ListHub has announced since the company’s parent, Threewide Corp., was acquired in September by Realtor.com operator Move.
Some industry leaders worried about the implications of the deal, since ListHub’s publishers are often competitors of Move and Realtor.com.
ListHub is Zillow’s biggest syndication partner, and Zillow — which in February began powering listings on Yahoo Real Estate — is ListHub’s biggest publisher. Other sites ListHub syndicates listings to include Trulia, AOL Real Estate, Homes.com, RealtyTrac, Foreclosure.com and HomeFinder.com.
Zillow’s provision of website and mobile metrics and listing performance data to ListHub will help brokers, agents and franchises evaluate the value of publishing destinations and manage their online marketing strategies, said Realtor.com President Errol Samuelson, who is also Move’s chief revenue officer.
"We have felt for a long time that if you can get more objective data and metrics in the hands of the broker, agent, and home seller, that drives tremendous efficiency in the business," Samuelson said.
Agents and brokers already have the ability to retrieve metrics reports on listing performance by logging on to individual web portals like Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia.
ListHub simplifies the process by compiling reports on the page views and leads generated by each of the publishers the company syndicates listings to.
But it can only do that when the publisher is providing those metrics to ListHub. Until now, Zillow was not providing ListHub with the "view and inquiry" statistics that the company incorporates into comparative reports that analyze visits and leads generated by each listing channel.
The metrics reports are useful to agents and brokers in determining the return on investment, or ROI, they receive when they pay websites for more prominent placement of their listings.
Agents can also use the reports to help sellers make decisions during the marketing and negotiating process.
"If you have a seller that’s getting a lot of page views, but not a lot of interest (in the form of inquiries), that can set up a conversation about a price reduction that’s less emotional," Samuelson said. "Conversely, if you are seeing lots of activity and lots of leads, that can help the seller whether to accept an offer or make a counteroffer."
Greg Schwartz, chief revenue officer at Zillow, said in a statement that providing metrics to ListHub will give brokers and agents "greater efficiency in their online marketing efforts. ListHub provides one of the most accurate and timely online data feeds available today and is a trusted partner for communicating our metrics through their reporting platform."
The metrics reports are also important to ListHub’s business model. The company does not charge for its listings syndication services, but generates revenue through the sale of the reports. Agents pay $99 a year and brokerages $199 a year for access to metrics reports and marketing materials.
The agreement also gives MLSs and brokers syndicating listings to Zillow through ListHub the ability to opt out of any use of those listings other than display on Zillow.com, Yahoo Real Estate, and Zillow mobile applications.
Lenders might want access to listings data, for example, to get advance notice that a mortgage may be prepaid, or to value real estate owned (REO) properties they are trying to sell.
Zillow also agreed to not resyndicate ListHub listings to third-party sites outside of the Zillow Real Estate Network. Samuelson said that while Zillow hasn’t resyndicated listings in the past, some brokers and MLSs who are the original source of listings data are concerned about the misuse of data in general.
"The principal we are focused on is helping brokers and MLSs manage where their listings are going, and what happens to their listings when they get there," Samuelson said.
Since Move acquired ListHub, the number of real estate franchises and MLSs supplying it listings has grown from 307 to 358, and the number of public-facing real estate websites, or publishers, it feeds listings to has grown from 79 to 97. All told, ListHub is getting listings from about 40,000 brokers.
Samuelson said ListHub is on a faster growth path since the acquisition. He attributed that to growing recognition of the value of syndication and the site metrics aggregated by ListHub.
Move’s acquisition of ListHub "put a bit of a spotlight on syndication and in general — the industry is more focused on or aware of syndication," he said.
Since Move acquired ListHub, two other listing syndicators, Point2 and Postlets, have been bought by bigger firms.