Would charging fees for Instant Offers make Zillow a broker?

  • In both of Zillow Instant Offers' test markets, along with several other states, the law indicates that taking part in obtaining purchasers for a sale requires a broker's license, but only if compensation is involved.

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Zillow Inc., home of the most popular real estate website nationwide, is testing Zillow Instant Offers, a program allowing homesellers in Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas to receive all-cash offers from up to five Wall Street investors and compare them side-by-side with a comparative market analysis (CMA) from a Zillow Premier Agent. For years, Zillow has promised not to become a real estate broker, and the company says that it still has no plans to do so -- Instant Offers doesn't represent buyers or sellers, nor does Zillow hold active broker licenses in Nevada or Florida. But one big question that remains is whether Zillow would need broker's licenses to operate Instant Offers legally if it were to begin accepting compensation. In Florida and Nevada, a person only qualifies as a broker if he or she collects or anticipates to collect compensation for broker services. (Zillow is not getting paid during the Instant Offers pilot. The company is not currently charging Premie...