The move will likely lead to small aesthetic changes, including how Premier Agents are displayed on listings, but the lead flow will remain the same.

Zillow announced Wednesday it will be changing its backend and switching to an IDX feed, a behind-the-scenes move that will change the way the company populates the listings that fill the nation’s most-visited real estate portal.

Errol Samuelson | Photo credit: Zillow

Previously, the listings on Zillow.com came from a patchwork of thousands of separate feeds through agreements with brokerages and multiple listing services (MLSs). The move will downshift the number of feeds flowing into Zillow to approximately 600 from the thousands included at present.

“This change is really about the plumbing,” Errol Samuelson, Zillow Group’s chief industry development officer, said. “So the way our systems works today, is we have something like 10,000 data feeds. Those feeds will come from individual brokers and franchisors, and MLSs where a broker has gone into a dashboard and clicked a button that says send my listings to Zillow.”

We have some pretty smart engineers that keep that thing running, but it’s complicated,” Samuelson said. “We are moving from that complicated set of technology to something that is really streamlined.”

In the past, Zillow would occasionally get as many as three of the same listings — from the broker, MLS and franchisor. Now the listings will come directly from the MLS.

“The listings flow automatically, you don’t have to go into a dashboard and click — it just happens,” Samuelson said.

There have also been fights in the past over data flowing to Zillow. In November 2018, The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors (GLVAR) decided to end the syndication of its 14,000 members’ listings to real estate portal Zillow and listing syndication network ListHub. The trade association ultimately reversed course just a week later.

In May, Zillow ended its syndication agreement with real estate holding company Realogy.

The changes won’t shift into gear until 2021, Samuelson said.

The backend switch will come with some aesthetic changes, with Zillow essentially now subject to each local multiple listing service regulation. Agent listings will now be front and center on Zillow.com, according to an email sent Wednesday to Zillow’s Premier Agent clients.

“We know buyers come to our sites to get the most accurate and up-to-date listing information, so we’re introducing a new search toggle to make it easier to filter between agent listings and other listings,” the email reads.

The buyer’s agent photos and contact information will now appear in a different module on each listing, according to the email. The appearance of photos will depend on local MLS advertising rules, but the company said that Premier Agent customers should not anticipate any changes to advertising visibility or connections volume.

In a conversation with Inman about the changes, Samuelson was also clear that lead flow for the Premier Agents would go unchanged. However, the change does mean that Zillow and Trulia will no longer offer featured listings.

IDX feeds are offered directly through the MLS to members — which will now count Zillow Homes, the licensed brokerage arm of the company, among their ranks.

The move comes on the heels of Zillow’s announcement that licensed Zillow employees will represent the company in its buying and selling transactions through Zillow Offers, rather than local partner agents. As part of the shift, Zillow will start listing homes directly on the MLS, rather than having a partner agent do it.

Email Patrick Kearns

Errol Samuelson | MLS | Zillow
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