Technology

ListHub general manager discusses Zillow syndication agreement

What do listing syndication changes mean for the industry?

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Ever since the Jan. 6 announcement that ListHub would not be renewing Zillow’s syndication agreement, real estate professionals have been seeking more information about exactly what this means to ListHub, Zillow and, ultimately, themselves. This is a story that affects everyone in the industry.

Yesterday, I had the unique opportunity to interview Celeste Starchild on Real Estate Coaching Radio, and she provided us with official word from ListHub about exactly what is happening right now — and what we can expect next. Starchild is the general manager of ListHub, a subsidiary of News Corp., and was directly involved with the negotiations leading up to the end of the Zillow syndication agreement. She agreed to go on-air with us to answer many of the countless listener questions we’ve had about this topic, as well as to set the record straight on what she said were several misconceptions currently floating around online.

Listen to the complete Celeste Starchild interview here:

 

For the full story on what’s happening, I’d urge you to listen to the entire audio interview, presented unedited and commercial-free to help you better understand ListHub’s position on this matter. It’s worth pointing out that this is ListHub’s view only, and to date we have not heard anything from Zillow about this story. Keep reading, however, as we present a few of the big questions (and Starchild’s answers) below:

1. According to the “industry letter,” Zillow actually backed out on the syndication deal with ListHub earlier this month, so this isn’t ListHub shutting them down. Is that accurate?

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“There was at least one media headline that really did mislead some people, and as the news broke we started receiving phone calls from customers and partners,” said Starchild, “so we thought it was really important to clear the air and help people understand with some clarity what had transpired.”

Yesterday, Starchild published an industry letter about the Zillow listing syndication agreement issue. According to the letter, “Zillow [publicly] announced that [it] would not be continuing negotiations with ListHub, and that [it was] launching [its] own product for syndication to Zillow.”

2. It’s stated that April 7 is the end of the contract date — does that mean that Zillow will quit receiving data basically at midnight?

Starchild said, “April 7 is the date on which the current agreement expires, and without a new agreement to support any relationship between ListHub and Zillow, the listings will no longer be provided effective on the end of that day.”

3. When the listing feed is cut off, Zillow’s data will start to age — does ListHub have any requirements about how Zillow must handle listings it has previously purchased from ListHub as that data ages?

Yes — and this is a big one. According to Starchild, Zillow has 48 hours from the time that the listing syndication feed is turned off to remove all previously purchased ListHub listings and associated content from the website.

“The idea that the listings would just kind of sit out there on the Internet and get stale is a misconception,” she said. Starchild elaborated that the handling of listings in this case is covered by the terms of the ListHub publisher agreement that apply to all of the 160 publishers that ListHub supports, including Zillow.

Not only do the listings themselves need to be removed, but also any “photos, pricing, remarks, virtual tours or any of the content that was aggregated by the Realtor and submitted onto this publisher website for the purpose of advertising to consumers. It just all has to be purged out of their system.”

Starchild estimated that based on the termination date and time for the listing feed, this means that all of that data will be removed from Zillow’s website sometime on April 9.

4. How will this affect Trulia?

Starchild indicated that for confidentiality reasons, she was not able to comment specifically about this issue, but she did indicate that ListHub contracts with Zillow and Trulia contained clauses that covered this possibility, and therefore this is something that has already been considered and addressed by one or both of these companies.

5. Luke Glass from Move Inc. told Inman that ListHub data was estimated to be up to 60 percent of Zillow’s current listings. Do you think that’s accurate? How much ListHub data is currently in the Zillow database?

According to Starchild, it’s difficult to accurately calculate the current total number of listings on the market, but she estimated that right now there are approximately 2.4 million active listings available in the overall market.

“We do know from our perspective how many listings we send,” Starchild said. “Obviously, we don’t have any visibility into how many of those listings are being received by our publisher partners in duplicate, and so there could be some duplication out there, but we’re seeing about 1.75 million listings being sent out today. So the figure that Luke Glass quoted is right about on target.”

6. Will this affect listings on realtor.com?

“Realtor.com, because of its unique position within the industry and their partnership with NAR (the National Association of Realtors), has relationships with nearly every single one of the nearly 850 MLSs (multiple listing services) across the country,” said Starchild. “They acquire their content from those MLSs directly, so this development will not affect realtor.com at all.”

7. Zillow supplies data to Yahoo! Homes, StreetEasy.com and HotPads.com. Does that include ListHub data? Does that mean we can expect to see some changes there, as well?

“In short, the answer is yes,” said Starchild. “Many of the sites in our network have what we call an ‘extended network.’ You’ve named some of the most well-known sites within Zillow’s extended network … and all of those sites will be affected in exactly the same way.”

As I mentioned above, these are only a few of the questions we discussed in our half-hour show yesterday — so listen to the audio clip above to hear our full interview with Celeste Starchild.

Tim and Julie Harris have over 20 years’ experience in real estate. Learn more about their real estate coaching and training programs at timandjulieharris.com, or tune in to Real Estate Coaching Radio every weekday at realestatecoachingradio.com.