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Who gets top in the Zillow – Yahoo! real estate – Mint menage a moi?

Zillow, your data accuracy sucks. I’m sorry, but it does, just ask Forbes Real Estate or any Denver real estate pro. Why in the world Mint would lower its reputation with inaccurate residential valuation tools is beyond me.

Yahoo’s stock is worthless according to anyone in the know, yet we have this three way menage a moi going on between Zillow and its partners Yahoo! real estate and Mint. I’m not sure who’s gaining here, or is this a three way of epic losers? Again, was Mint in trouble? Well it might be now. What may sound like a move up for Mint, reeks of desperation (or ignorance) to anyone in real estate.

Over the past week, we’ve seen a Zillow insider’s life flash before his eyes when his one end all be all to Zillow’s potential problems ending, and that would be if and when Realtor.com could syndicate all listing data. This would end the reality drought at Zillow. But yet another share holder barks at how the revised Realtor.com agreement with the National Association of Realtors must signal fear from Move, Inc (Realtor.com parent company who advertises on AG) about the John picking up the hooker we saw with Zillow and Yahoo! real estate.

Look, something’s got to give. Spencer Rascoff steps up as CEO and replaces the haphazard Barney Fife of a CEO that was Rich Barton. The company’s got a shot now in my opinion with the mortgage market place and fresh vision, but this data situation is a real problem for Zillow going forward- with the new Move, Inc. and NAR operating agreement in place, and its ListHub acquisition, suddenly everyone can overtake Zillow in accuracy (not a difficult feat, imo), including its step brother Trulia. Zillow’s Mortgage Market Place is easily matched by Google already, so what’s left but the bone Mint just tossed Zillow? Nothing, because I’m looking at this from a glass half empty perspective- Mint’s horny (as of the publishing of this article, no mention of the Zillow/Mint agreement had even graced the Mint press page, maybe it is shame?).

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Marilyn Wilson

    September 23, 2010 at 4:52 am

    I agree with your assessment of data quality on Zillow. We at the WAV Group have conducted two data accuracy studies over the past two years comparing the accuracy of Zillow data to broker websites and other third party sites. While Trulia has significantly increases their accuracy over the past couple of years, even though they are also not as accurate as broker or MLS consumer-facing sites, Zillow has remained pretty weak.

    The problem is consumers don’t know that. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard people on airlines talk about how Zestimates are an accurate way to find out what your home is worth. While they may not think of it as the most accurate property search mechanism, consumers definitely see a value in Zillow. The sad part is that the real estate industry had its chance and blew it. We had AVM technologies LONG before Zillow existed yet we were too protectionist to share them with consumers.

    While I agree Zillow’s data is not great, we have to give them credit for the brand franchise they have created.

    My hope is that the Listhub acquisition by REALTOR.com will force third parties like Zillow to step up their game and deliver more legitimate value to consumers, and thus delivering better quality to the real estate pros who advertise there.

    • Paula Henry

      September 23, 2010 at 7:24 am

      The sad part is that the real estate industry had its chance and blew it. We had AVM technologies LONG before Zillow existed yet we were too protectionist to share them with consumers.

      Yes -we blew it! The ListHub acquisition will only provide them with direct feeds of our data. They won’t have to step up their game, we gave them everything they need. I really see no value in advertising there and buying a RealEstatePro badge! Really, does having a PRO badge make one a professional?

  2. Ken Montville

    September 23, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Benn, you are right on the money [sic] with this post. I commented on Lani’s before I read this and mentioned that Zillow’s Zestimate will only create a false impression of net worth and the homes’s value vis a vis the reality of the local marketplace.

    Having said that, it seems that there is a consolidation going on within the Web-based, real estate data providing companies. This guy is buying out that guy, This company is partnering with that company. My guess (and it’s just an observation) is that these various Web-based data providers are having a hard time generating a profit because, let’s face it, data is data and you can only re-package it so many ways before the consumer gets tired of looking.

    So, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a couple of years, there will only be two or three data providers. Just enough to provide “competition” to keep the Department of Justice out of the picture.

  3. Rob McCance

    September 25, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    MLS data should not be allowed out of the MLS jurisdiction that generated it.

    That solves all the problems while giving the business back to the local agents that generated the data in the first place.

    Also it puts and END to all the national data aggregator VULTURES that add NO value, while also doing a piss poor job with data accuracy and freshness.

    All the MLS info would be available from your local Realtor, or from your local Realtor’s web site. The folks that know and can actually service the territories.

    That’s been my stance for some time now.

    • Paula Henry

      September 25, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      Rob – you are speaking my language 🙂

      Heard it again this week! Client calls, stressed, ” Zillow says my house is worth $50,000 less than what I thought it was”. We completed a market analysis and like Ben stated, Zillow Sucks.

      Who ever really thought an auto generated market evaluation would work anyway? Now, they want our data so they can claim some accuracy.

  4. Rob McCance

    September 26, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Thanks Paula. Nice web site too BTW.

    This whole MLS data subject just makes me sick. Always has. I remember not too many years ago when the individual MLSs were very protective of their data.

    If you wanted to add IDX to your site, your IDX vendor (mistake #1 of the MLSs by the way)(the beginning of the end) was required to have all sorts of approvals and agreements in place. They scrutinized what site the IDX was going on and had all sorts of rules and regs about where the data was going and how. And these rules-n-regs were followed. (until they started violating them themselves)

    Now it seems there are hundreds of IDX vendors and all you do is sign up. Done. From FREE to $100/mo and everything in between. Put it anywhere and do anything you want with it.

    Most even provide, with great pride, the ability to spread the data around via RSS feeds, and other methods. This makes it super easy to move this data anywhere, with virtually no way to control it.

    I don’t profess to understand the MLS/IDX business model but I would like to. I have a 30k foot view from the outside, as a paying customer.

    In GA, every time you close you pay between $300 and $1000 to the FMLS here. That’s a TON of money for them to be hosting a frikkin’ database.

    That’s bad enough, but then they sell (I assume) this feed to all the IDX providers and the more the merrier. They also sell it to the nationals, the more the merrier.

    So us Realtors pay for it, we create it, we populate it and keep it updated….then we PAY for the leads it generates.

    We fund all sides of the war!

    It’s run by people with NO vision what so ever who apparently will sell anything to anyone at any time to make a buck. Nevermind the FORTUNE they already make from the Realtors paying the FMLS fee at every closing. Nobody can convince me the profit margin on this business is not somewhere near 90%.

    See….frustrating…

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