Are you chasing a ghost with Zillow, and other Apps?

Hey everyone, this post is all about Zillow, and other home search apps that you might have found handy and fun to use. Use them with CAUTION, because some of this data is not vetted. Meaning the current status of the home as well as the price, location or even if its actually for sale/rent has not been checked in all cases. I cannot tell you how many times, buyers or friends have asked me about a property from other sites only to find out that the information is not correct; which leads me to making them very sad.

zillow vs MLS

While using these sites to explore, they typically are not an accurate source of homes for sale, so what do you do? Well ask your agent if they have an app. That’s right, most agents now have their own branded app with a direct connection to the MLS they work in. So, you can trust the information in this app to be up to speed, as there is no way to manually enter or modify a listing. All the data comes from the MLS! Also, your agent should have set you up with an MLS portal access to search for homes on your desktop too. While both of these sources are good, the MLS portal is likely the best way to keep all your information and likes in one place and easily communicate with your agent. Oh, if by chance you find yourself saying, I see more homes in Zillow than your portal, tell your agent! The portal is setup based on criteria we collect by talking to you about your dream home and as this criteria likely changes as you don’t find the right home for your family, we need to revise the portals search criteria to keep things up to speed. We only know if you are changing your criteria, if you tell us!

I mentioned a few times about the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

It’s the official national service that all realtors/brokers use to list homes for sale. Now while I said it is national, most agents do not have access to the entire nation and for good reason. Realtors and brokers are only licensed per state. So, they should not be operating in multiple states unless they have a license in that state AND are knowledgeable about the area, they operate in. So, for example, my license is in Colorado, but I operate in Colorado Springs, aka PPAR (Pikes Peak Association of Realtors). PPAR is a sub region within Colorado where I am a member and choose to operate. But I also once lived in Denver metro and for this reason, I am also a member of REColorado, so I can operate there too as needed, but that’s it. I should not be listing or showing properties in say, Breckenridge, CO. Oh back to my point.

Each MLS Region has a different relationship or agreement with various other entities like Zillow and Some of these relationships have a PUSH setup, where the MLS sends or PUSHES data to them. Others have a PULL relationship, where they PULL the data from the MLS. Now, both PUSH and PULL relationships can be setup at different intervals. For example. One site might PULL and update every 30 minutes, where others could be setup with a PUSH to send changes as they occur in the MLS. Where the problem arrives is you have no idea which way your favorite site is setup. What if they only update every 24 hours… yikes. That’s some old data and you might be chasing a ghost!

Recently I reached out to PPAR to help understand how their system or relationships work and this is what they told me.

“Listings are automatically syndicated to the Gazette and Listhub then sends the listings out to a couple hundred sites based on the account set up by the Employing Broker of a company. All of our syndication is done on a “come and get it” system. We give our syndicators access to a feed what they pull and when they display it is up to them. tends to update at least once a day, Zillow has access to the feed every half hour, etc…
We also syndicate to agent and brokerage IDX sites. The Zillow policy is still in effect, please see attachment if you have not already filled one out. Signatures must be done manually or via Transaction Desk for electronically.”

The Zillow Policy

I bet your asking, what is the Zillow policy and an IDX…? Well the Zillow policy is a big one! In PPAR, each realtor or broker has to OPT IN to have their listing syndicated to Zillow! That means we have no idea what percent of the listings in the MLS are being made available to Zillow for use! Not good if your looking for a house right? There is a little good news here. The brokerage I work with is Keller William Partners and they have this on our new person checklist. So at least for this brokerage all the agents should have completed the necessary paperwork and their listings are being made available to Zillow.

The IDX is a little one. An IDX feed from PPAR allows all listings to be available to a third party to use. For example, on this very website, you will see homes for sale as well as a way to search them. This feature is provided via an IDX access to PPAR’s MLS data with a PUSH setup. Meaning the changes made in the MLS are immediately shown on my website! Search all you want. We don’t ask you to create an account like some sites. We want you to explore and enjoy your time on our website and asking you for your information to do what you want, generally does not achieve this.

Wow that’s a lot of information about Zillow, and other apps!

I thought this was going to be a short article! As you can see there are some risks when you use some of these other websites for searching for properties. As long as you know where the speed bumps are, you can slow down and be cautious when necessary.

Have fun looking for or selling your home. That’s right is should be fun and stress free! Well for the most part. 😉

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