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Zillow Hack- How to Get Around the New $9.95 Per Listing Charge

A major sticking point for agents

moneyYesterday, we reported news from Zillow that they added lease listings to their offering but don’t have MLS feeds pulling yet, so they’ll be charging $9.95 per manually uploaded listing, giving it 180 days as a featured listing on the site.

While the hack we’re about to show you will not give you featured listing status, it will keep $9.95 in your pocket for all of the other vendors who like to say “it’s only $25 per listing” or “it’s only $29.99 per month” (with the ultimate implication being you aren’t paying 20 vendors per listing).

What the charge REALLY means

Zillow notes that only 3% of their listings are manually uploaded, but if you do the math on home sales only (we’re not even talking about lease listings that will be flooding their site), they’ll pull in nearly $1.2 million for the first 180 days, then another $1.2 million for the next 180 days and so on and so forth, putting $2.4 million annually into the Zillow bank. That’s no chump change.

But I’ll give you a hint: Zillow’s smart and they know as a tech savvy Realtor that you’ll read Agent Genius and learn the hack, so this measure of charging manually is not to punish all lease and sale listings by agents, the $9.95 charge has two fuctions: to have a featured listing status and to pick up coin from the unsuspecting FSBO.

Okay, so here’s the hack:

As Zillow gears up to compete more closely with sites like RPR, Realtor.com, Apartments.com, Rent.com, Craigslist and others, we thought it might be cool to show you how to still have your listing appear on Zillow.com without having to pay yet another fee.

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Here is how you get around the $9.95 charge: upload your listing to a syndication site (a few are listed here) and tell it to syndicate to Zillow. That’s not a manual upload and it will not charge you any additional money to list on Zillow. It’s not only more efficient to go the syndication route, it saves you money. Some sites to try out for syndicating your listings to Zillow among other sites are vFlyer, Postlets, Real Estate Shows, and I’m not sure, but Real Bird and PostYourListings, might work with Zillow as well (some of these I’ve used, others I haven’t).

And voila, you’ve hacked the Zillow charges!

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Fred Romano

    December 15, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Sweet! Thanks for the “hack” 😉

  2. Missy Caulk

    December 15, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Mine go in from RealEstateShows and Vflyer.

    Glad they are adding rentals…we have so so many in my area right now.

    • Jim Duncan

      December 15, 2009 at 2:21 pm

      An issue we have in the Charlottesville area is that a lot of the homes are for sale or rent … not sure how Z’s able to address this either/or.

  3. Robert Drummer

    December 15, 2009 at 11:54 am

    The $2.4 million you cite assumes that everyone currently loading listings at $0.00 will continue to do so when faced with $9.95.

    My guess is that those listings will be cut by 80%.

    • Lani Rosales

      December 15, 2009 at 12:03 pm

      Robert, you’re probably right. But even so, many dollars from agents’ pockets is more than no dollars from agents’ pockets! Even if it’s cut by 80%, you’re still looking at half a million dollars each year whereas it was zero dollars before this announcement.

  4. ines

    December 15, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Lani,
    You crack me up – that’s why my question to David and Drew about syndication and which system overrides the information. David explained that the closest feed to the MLS will win meaning those of us that syndicate from v-flyer, for example, may start competing with our own broker syndication.

    Question now is if I am syndicating both a rental and sale listing from one of these systems, which will zillow take if they can only show either sale or rental listing of a property. I agree with Jim Duncan that thay may be a major flaw.

  5. Joe Loomer

    December 15, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Ok, maybe I need to go back and read yesterday’s post – is Zillow going to charge for non-lease listings now?

    Horrible thing to hear on “Bill of Rights” Day!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  6. David G from Zillow.com

    December 15, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Hi, Lani, it’s David from Zillow,

    I also recommend syndicating your listings to Zillow via a listing feed (and it is free) but I must clarify that if you do, your listing will not be featured on Zillow. The $9.95 (for 180 days) buys you a FEATURED listing which will be sorted to the top of search results. Featured listings enjoy 6X the traffic of listings posted via listing feeds so it’s worth going the featured route in a competitive market. There are now 4 million listings on Zillow; if a listing agent wants to win a sellers’ business, featuring their listings is a good way to differentiate yourself from the other “hacks.” 😉

  7. Charles McDonald - Charlottesville Real Estate

    December 16, 2009 at 8:00 am

    It seems that a fee per listing is not the best strategy for Zillow. Especially for rentals. May be that they are looking to get revenue from the home owners vs agents.
    Funny think I just checked and Zillow still has a couple of my sold homes in the Charlottesville area as active…

    To many sites out there going after the same fish

  8. David G from Zillow.com

    December 16, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Thanks Lani – you rock!

    Charles – email me an address or two (davidg@zillow) and we’ll figure out what’s up with that! I read (somewhere) that (something like) 80% of the online activity in Real Estate relates to listings yet no one site has even double-digit market share so that will explain the ubiquity of listings on the web. The implication for agents is that (well controlled) listing syndication is essential to marketing homes these days.

  9. Shuki from Lofts.com

    December 16, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    David G,

    Does Zillow offer a feed base or bulk system to list featured listings both for sale or rent. I just read above that you take a feed for free but those are not going to be featured listings. Is there another field in the feed that you can check off to say “featured” and have it setup to bill a credit card etc?

    Can you point me in the right direction to read up more on the feed documentation.

    Thanks in advance!

  10. Kevin Tomlinson

    December 16, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    God, that makes me feels so good….deep, deep down.

  11. Pete

    July 14, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I use Postlets all the time and my last two listings are not on Zillow but on all the other websites. The other sites you mentioned are also pay sites. (RealEstateShows, RealBird and PostYourListings). Thanks for the info.

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