For John Angell, it was the last straw.
The Dallas-based agent with Paragon Realtors took to Facebook to air his grievance with Zillow, the company that uses MLS data to populate its site with for-sale and for-lease listings.
The company, which started its own brokerage — Zillow Homes — last September, also announced at that time that it would be charging $9.99 per week to promote agents’ for-lease properties.
“Active listings posted via Zillow Rental Manager require payment, but your first listing is free until it expires. Each subsequent listing costs $9.99 per week,” Zillow’s explainer says. These listings appear on Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads, which the company alleges to be the “most visited online rental network.”
As Angell noted in his Facebook post, Realtor.com still posts for-lease listings from Realtors for free.
Comments on the post from other agents posit that this is a revenue-generating tool for Zillow to make up for losses as some MLS organizations pull listings from the disruptor.
“Many MLSs are pulling their listings from Zillow,” said Keith Hefner. “They are transitioning their site to provide brokerage services to consumers rather than service to brokerages.”
Since the launch of Zillow Homes, several brokerages have ceased advertising agreements with the company over disputes regarding the ersatz iBuyer program the brand launched last fall. Several brokerages saw it as the shot over the bow, and proof that Zillow wouldn’t make good on its promise to stay out of the real estate brokerage business.
“This program won’t work, agents won’t pay $40 a month to list a rental with Zillow when it’s on MLS in the first place,” said Nick Bristow. “MLS syndicates to approximately 300 sites. Also, people looking for leases typically use an agent. That agent looks on MLS and finds them places. Zillow has zero involvement in the day-to-day business between agents.”
For the full list of rules on how Zillow Rental Manager works, go here.