Flipt takes down site after Zillow alleges improper use of data

Startup will now 'pivot' to provide marketing services to real estate pros

Real estate startup Flipt has taken its investment-focused real estate search site down after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from portal giant Zillow alleging improper use of its data, GeekWire reported.

Flipt launched its site earlier this month with the aim of making it easy for real estate investors to evaluate the moneymaking potential of single-family homes nationwide through algorithm-based investment scores.

Flipt home page
Flipt home page

At the time, Flipt told Inman News its database was populated by listings from a handful of aggregators.

Andrey Nokhrin, CEO of Flipt parent company BuildersCloud, now says the company was having trouble obtaining real estate data and therefore devised a “quick hack” — which he characterized as similar to what “Bing does to index sites” — so that Flipt could validate demand for its service, GeekWire reported.

Earlier this month, Seattle real estate blogger Tim Ellis noticed that Flipt was displaying a photo and details about his home that he had provided only to Zillow. Moreover, he noticed that Flipt appeared to be downloading and storing Zillow’s data locally, which is prohibited by Zillow’s terms of service.

“So either Flipt was scraping Zillow to get their content or they were using Zillow’s API, but flagrantly ignoring the terms of use,” Ellis told GeekWire.

In a statement to the tech news site, Zillow said, “Zillow regularly takes steps to protect our intellectual property rights, and the manner in which Flipt was using Zillow data was in clear violation of our terms of use and other protections we operate under and we instructed them to stop immediately.”

Although Nokhrin said he does not believe Flipt has done anything wrong, the company took the site down and will now be “pivoting” to focus on providing marketing services for real estate professionals — at least until the company can sign deals with real estate data providers, he told GeekWire.

“[T]his is not a complete ‘pivot,’ but a change of focus,” Nokhrin told Inman News.

“Since launching our site we provided real estate professionals with an effective marketing tool,” he said.

“For now, instead of trying to generate our own consumer traffic, we have built an advertising solution for real estate professionals that allows to quickly create targeted ads on our advertising network — websites with huge existing traffic of home sellers, home buyers, and investors in local areas. This will remain our focus until we finalize data partnerships for our own consumer website.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Andrey Nokhrin.


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