Changes to real estate industry practices should put consumers first

by Zillow President Susan Daimler

Anyone who works in or follows real estate has heard a lot of discussion and seen a lot of headlines about potential change in the industry. These conversations fuel speculation on what could or should shift about how the business of real estate gets done.

Amid the noise, we in the industry would do well to remember what matters most: consumers. 

  • The real estate marketplace should be transparent and fair. Everyone — consumers, agents, everyone — should have easy and equitable access to all available listing information and real estate data to help them navigate the market and the transaction. This is the “turn on the lights” principle on which Zillow was founded, and it remains fundamental to a well-functioning real estate ecosystem. Practices such as pocket listings, “no-commingling” rules, private listing networks and “office exclusives,” or any other anti-consumer actions that restrict access to real estate information, harm both buyers and sellers and have no place in our industry. 
  • Buyers and sellers each deserve individual representation throughout the process — an agent who works for them only and looks out for their interests. Imagine if the same attorney tried to represent both the plaintiff and the defendant in a legal case; could they really prioritize the interests of both clients, provide equally sound counsel to both and advocate for their respective needs? Dual agency, in which the same agent represents both buyer and seller in a real estate transaction, is similarly unfair to both sides and can result in higher costs for buyers. Licensed agents are generally bound to act as fiduciaries for their clients, and attempting to represent both seller and buyer undermines that duty.
  • Real estate professionals representing each side of a transaction should be fairly compensated for the value they provide to their clients. A consumer who chooses to be represented by an agent receives critical support in navigating a multitude of complexities — buyers’ agents, for example, not only become a trusted partner in the property search and guide clients through showings; they also perform market analyses, do due diligence, and negotiate on the buyer’s behalf.
  • Consumers should be well-informed of agent fees, including what services they cover and who pays, and that they are negotiable. 

At Zillow, we firmly believe that doing right by the consumer also benefits our agent partners and the industry as a whole. That’s why we’re working so hard to improve the consumer experience within our housing super app ecosystem, and it’s why we consistently advocate for changes that benefit the consumer — and will continue to do so.

Now and always, we should all stay focused on serving the needs of buyers and sellers. Regardless of how changes unfold, Zillow will remain a trusted partner supporting consumers and like-minded real estate professionals every step of the way.