The deal, announced Friday, will allow Redfin to send its own listings in Seattle, Charlotte, Des Moines and Nashville directly to Zillow. The companies struck the deal because Zillow does not have syndication agreements with the multiple listing services (MLSs) in those markets.
In a blog post about the deal, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman acknowledged the long-running rivalry between the two firms, comparing them to “Democrats and Republicans, dogs and cats, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.” But he ultimately concluded that “both sides will claim victory, and both should.”
“The deal is great news for Redfin’s listing customers,” Kelman continued. “Our customers want homebuyers to see Redfin listings on Zillow.com and on every other portal site. But these customers also want homebuyers to find their way to that listing on Redfin.com, so we can offer new visualizations of the listing, self-guided tours, online offers and lower commissions.”
Though Redfin’s portal is perhaps its best-known feature among consumers, it has aggressively expanded its brokerage offerings as well. Among other things, the company has an iBuying-style service dubbed Redfin Now and a program that lets consumers make offers on the firm’s listings called Redfin Direct.
Zillow also offers services beyond its own widely used portal, the most disruptive perhaps being Zillow Offers, the company’s iBuyer.
In most cities, Redfin syndicates its listings to various online portals via the syndication agreements between Zillow and the MLS. So, a “listed by Redfin” home in Los Angeles, for example, is visible on Zillow because in that area the MLS has a deal with Zillow to distribute the listing.
Kelman said in his blog post that Redfin prefers to operate this way “because the MLS can act on behalf of all the brokers in a market, not just one.”
However, in the case of Seattle, Charlotte, Des Moines and Nashville, Redfin ultimately approached Zillow on its own after working with the local MLSs failed.
“Redfin worked with Zillow directly only after waiting years for an MLS deal in these markets, and only after getting enough Redfin listings to have the standing to negotiate,” Kelman wrote.
The two companies hadn’t previously come up with a deal because until last fall there was a delay in the way Zillow loaded Redfin links on its site. Kelman said the delay raised concerns that it would be “difficult for some search engines to recognize Redfin.com as the source of data about Redfin listings. ”
When Zillow redesigned its website that delay was eliminated, as were Redfin’s concerns.
Asked about the deal Monday, a Zillow spokesperson told Inman that the company “is the largest real estate site in the country where nearly every shopper begins her search — and it’s a no-brainer that Redfin would want the kind of visibility we offer for their clients’ listings.”
“We’re pleased to come to an agreement,” the spokesperson added.
However, don’t expect these two online rivals to forever bury the proverbial hatchet. Though Kelman said that they will “cooperate to show consumers all the homes for sale,” the deal could ultimately be “torn up and re-written a half dozen times in the next 10 years.”
And the two remain competitors.
“Just as Zillow has made its listing attribution better than ever for brokers,” Kelman wrote, “it’s now more likely than ever to compete with Redfin as Zillow expands into instant offers, mortgages and other businesses more closely related to a real estate sale.”
Correction: This post initially mischaracterized the syndication relationship Zillow, Redfin and local MLSs. It has been updated for accuracy.