Two years ago when launching our first round of community features, including Home Q&A, we included a feature to “tell us it’s for sale” – figuring that many conversations start around homes on the market, and if the home isn’t listed on Zillow then the community might want to notate that it’s for sale. Some brokers who didn’t like the feature argued that it allowed someone other than the listing agent to “advertise” the listing, which is a no-no. Our position was always that it is a conversation piece about that home, the type of thing that someone in the community would say to someone else – “hey did you see that the house down the street is for sale for $500,000?”.
Well, after many conversations with our brokerage partners, we’ve decided to pull the plug on this feature. It wasn’t lighting the world on fire anyway — only 4,323 listings on the entire Web site were reported for sale by someone other than the listing agent or owner, less than 0.1% of our listings. So rather than continue to apologize for and explain away this issue to important partners, we’re listening and we’re yanking it.
This decision has a lot of parallels to our recent decision to drop our real estate brokerage licenses. When we first launched Zillow three years ago, we obtained real estate brokerage licenses in all 50 states at great expense because our lawyers told us it was the prudent thing to do, given the fact that we provide a Zestimate value on homes. This caused great consternation and fear in the brokerage community – more fear than we even realized at the time. It wasn’t until after we announced that we were dropping our licenses that it became clear to us just how much of an issue this had been in the industry.
Dropping “tell us it’s for sale” is a similar story. We’re constantly listening to what consumers, agents, brokers and lenders tell us, and in this case everyone told us they didn’t like the feature and didn’t use it. So it’s toast.