Changes include buyer’s agents being advertised as “personal guides” and the site defaulting to agent listings over others.

If you were one of the millions that visited Zillow.com over the weekend, chances are the website looked somewhat different. On the surface, the aesthetic changes to the average user may have seemed slight, but behind the scenes, the site is now officially powered by an IDX feed. 

The significant change in how data flows to Zillow.com has also not been without a few hiccups, which Zillow confirmed it’s aware of and currently working to fix.

“Accurate and comprehensive data is central to our mission to simplify and streamline real estate transactions and deliver a more integrated experience to customers,” a spokesperson for Zillow said in a statement.

“Our Premier Agent and industry partners are a critical part of that vision: We believe moving to IDX will create a better experience on our platform for consumers, driving successful home searches for buyers, greater exposure for sellers, and creating more opportunity for our partners in the industry.”

The change in data source accompanied Zillow’s September 2020 shift to becoming a brokerage, having its own licensed agents represent it for transactions through its iBuyer platform Zillow Offers.

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 downshifted the number of feeds flowing into Zillow to approximately 600 from the thousands included at present.

Accompanying that change appears to be fewer listings, based on a cursory glance of a number of markets, which could be due to the purging of old or expired listings, as the company updates its feeds.

The company is now putting a greater emphasis on agent listings, so those listings being featured more prominently can also give off the perception of fewer listings overall. On the Zillow mobile app, non-agent listings are filtered out as a default, but users can switch between agent and non-agent listings.

The company is also pulling the pre-foreclosure advertising program so homes in the pre-foreclosure phase — a home in which the lender has issued a default notice – no longer appear on the site. Zillow will not change the way it receives or displays foreclosure listings.

Buyer’s agents still have a prominent presence on all listings, but are now advertised as “personal guides,” with an emphasis on neighborhood knowledge, in many markets. There’s also a general “contact agent” box, which replaces the old contact box that displayed the photo of Premier Agent advertisers.

“We’ve seen strong performance in our tests of the new contact form, and we expect no change to the number of connections you will get as a result of the new experience,” an informational page on the changes reads.

As part of the switch, the company is also shutting down Premier Agent websites, which it says “are not contributing significant value to the majority of our partners.”

The change has not been without a few hiccups. As Zillow migrates hordes of data, many markets have seen past sales disappear. For example, Premier Agents have seen their sale and listing history disappear. The changes appear to be temporary but have drawn criticism from some in the industry.

“Joining local boards and MLSs to get listing data, and then migrating Zillow and Trulia to receive IDX feeds, are important steps in this work — and like all change, the transition has not come without some speed bumps,” Susan Daimler, the senior vice president of Premier Agent, said in a blog post detailing some of the issues.

The company’s switch to IDX means that listings and past sales are connected to an agent’s profile based on matching email addresses. In some cases, the email address the agent uses for Premier Agent was not matched because the MLS does not provide an email address with the listing.

The company was clear that the data has not been lost and is hoping to have past sales data restored by January 26. The company was also explicit that agent profiles — which include reviews and past sales — are not going away.

In a few markets, some Premier Agent customers are also seeing some inaccurate listing data and the company said it’s working with MLS partners to address those issues.

Email Patrick Kearns

Zillow
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