Listing and valuation portal Zillow.com will no longer allow just anyone to flag homes in its database to "tell us it’s for sale."

In announcing the change Thursday, Zillow said allowing any user — not just property owners and listing agents — to report that a property in its database was "for sale" was a little-used feature that antagonized some real estate agents and brokers.

Only 4,323 properties on the site were reported as for sale by someone other than the owner or listing agent — less than one one-hundredth of a percent of the site’s listings.

Zillow Chief Operating Officer Spencer Rascoff said some brokers have disliked the feature since it was launched two years ago, as a component of the site’s community and social networking tools.

After "many conversations with our brokerage partners," Rascoff said in a blog post, "we’re listening and we’re yanking it," rather than "continue to apologize for and explain away this issue to important partners."

Rascoff compared the move to Zillow’s decision to drop most of its real estate brokerage licenses — the existence of which were the cause of "great consternation and fear in the brokerage community," he said.

When Zillow announced in November it was giving up its brokerage licenses in all but two states, the company said it hoped to put to rest "any rumors or any thought that Zillow plans to get into the brokerage business."

The company said it would maintain licenses in Texas — a nondisclosure state where Zillow needs memberships in multiple listings services to gather data for valuations — and in Washington state, where the company is based (see story).

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