Zillow.com deals another blow to MLS

Letters to the Editor: inman banner

Dear Editor:

Zillow’s latest online move was predictable and fully anticipated by many. And yet there are those who continue to believe that Zillow, whose founders shook up and virtually destroyed the traditional travel industry model with Expedia, will never succeed in dismantling the much more powerful real estate industry.

Think Zillow can’t do it? Don’t bet on it.

Zillow.com’s real estate “divide and conquer” strategy couldn’t have been launched at a better time. The real estate industry is hurting, and faced with current market conditions, agents will cling to any advantage that they can get – even if it means hitching a ride with the wolf that’s about to eat them alive.

Of course, it’s not all Zillow’s fault; competing technologies are eroding the MLS on a daily basis — sites that encourage the free-flow of information and force agents to leverage more important skill-sets such as local knowledge, negotiation skills and an understanding of the legal issues that surround successful real estate transactions.

The truth is, the traditional real estate model with the MLS as the mothership is already dead in the water. And if you don’t believe it, you’re probably over 50.

So watch the next chapter of the new world unfold as the real estate industry begins to utilize this new service, and in so doing, unwittingly accelerates the demise of the hand that’s fed them for so long — the MLS.

From Condo Metropolis: 12.8.06 – Inman News – Where Technology and Real Estate Connect.


  1. Marcus, I couldn’t agree with you more, and especially like your characterization of the “MLS as mothership” being dead in the water. No, its not quite dead yet. But its kind of like the Titanic, with everyone aboard partying in black tie and evening gowns oblivious to the approaching iceberg.

    For the past day, since the Zillow announcement, I’ve been talking about it with every Realtor colleague I see. I’m amazed at how it just, well, goes over their head. The response is the tired, old “Something online can’t replace the professionalism, service, expertise, and blah blah blah, on and on.

    My previous incarnation, before selling real estate, was owning a successful corporate travel company that I am proud to say weathered the online onslaught of the Expedia’s of the world well, and came out the side a vibrant and profitable entity. But it wasn’t easy, and required creative repositioning and investment. The same retooling can happen in the real estate brokerage business, but it will look very different than it is today. I could go on and on with my thoughts on this.

    One of my hopes is that a group of forward thinking Realtors can come together to do some out-of-the-box thinking, away from the the conservative and protectionist NAR hierarchy. There is a great future in real estate for those who adapt and devise the new business models to meet it.

  2. Unfortunately, I can agree with you Marcus. Will the MLS become more of a marketing tool than a listing database??? Looks like it will need to be to keep up with players like Zillow in the game!

  3. I wish i knew what the answer was. But somehow I doubt that a pedestrian industry association will ever have the wherewithall to compete with this kind of dynamism. The bomb has already gone off. It’s just a question of how long it takes us to die from the radiation. If you can’t beat ’em – join ’em. Keep blogging!

  4. Zillow cannot blow a fatal blow to the MLS. It will mess the buyers heads up for awhile. It has momentum. But buyers want to see all of the listings. Zillow will never have that. Even Realtor.com fails here. The end is not yet in site. But Zillow is a problem not the answer. Lar

  5. Marcus,

    I happen to agree with you AND I AM 52. In my office it is the young ones that are technologically bereft.

    Caustic is fun, however, do not insult please.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *