Zillow’s Embarrassing Glitch Should Be a Wake-Up Call for Agents

Posted on

It’s not the first time Zillow has experienced a glitch, nor is it likely to be the last, but during the weekend of January 16, agents were surprised that they could not see their listings and past sales on their Zillow profile.

The problem occurred as Zillow was migrating “from thousands of disparate data feeds to MLS Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feeds.” In a post on their website, Susan Daimler, Senior Vice President, Zillow Premier Agent, wrote:

We’re aware of bugs in this transition that are impacting agent profiles on Zillow in some markets, causing listings and past sales to no longer link to an agent profile, (although current listings are still searchable on Zillow). We’re also aware that partners in a few markets are experiencing issues with photo order or inaccurate open house times.

Past sales were to be restored by January 21, with the disappearance of active listings to be resolved within two weeks (Zillow did so ahead of schedule) and other problems to be identified and solutions prioritized.

Colored Lego blocks built into the numbers 404

No big deal, right?

Technical glitches are a reality; “stuff” happens, and Zillow did what it should to keep customers informed and to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

But as it is, a large number of real estate professionals are already unhappy with Zillow and their imposed arrangements, so when agents were not able to see their prior sales and reviews, some understandably lost it.

And while Zillow’s most recent gaffe is not going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, in light of the contentious history between the behemoth and agents who feel pressed under its thumb, it should serve as a wake-up call because of the menacing future it could foreshadow.

What if it hadn’t been a glitch?

Instead of it being a glitch, what if Zillow had decided it would no longer list past sales and support agent reviews? What if they decided that displaying maps of your transactions was no longer in its best interests? What if Zillow decided to thumb its nose at agents, ignore assurances, and establish itself as a brokerage ready to compete?

Oh . . . right. That last one did happen.

Rear view of a man in a suit crossing his fingers behind his back

Kathy Hereford gets it.

Last week, when Zillow encountered its problem migrating data to IDX, Hereford, an agent in central Florida, discovered that her sales from the previous 12 months, all 65 of them, plus several positive client reviews, were no longer showing on her profile.

She viewed the incident as a valuable reminder and an essential business lesson.

Index finger with a string tied in a bow around it

Speaking with Bold, Hereford said, “I think it’s really important for people to have other multi-level platforms that they can market their properties on and to just build relationships with clients and work on referrals . . . They all can change what they like to do … We have to keep evolving.”

At ReminderMedia, we couldn’t agree more.

How you can keep control of your own destiny

With essentially having to buy back leads, complaints about the inaccuracy of Zestimates, the creation of Zillow Homes as a licensed brokerage entity (after assurances that they would not move into the brokerage space), and the launch of Zillow Offers as an iBuyer, agents believe they are fighting for their livelihood.

And what is being perceived as a lack of support from MLSs and NAR, is quickly rising to a degree of ire you might see before the first shots of a revolution.

A young male protestor with a megaphone joined by others street.

During the recent Inman Connect conference, Courtney Poulos, broker-owner at Los Angeles-based ACME Real Estate, said:

What I see the role currently of the MLS is as a kind of a police force and very restrictive enforcement of [National Association of Realtors] new policies, as opposed to agent support in a changing technological environment where we now have to fight for our unrepresented buyer leads, for example, with Zillow.

Poulos warned, “Multiple listing services need to either meet agent needs and help them compete against tech giants like Zillow or lose them to something like a national MLS.”

It’s not surprising that agents’ displeasure with Zillow seems to be coming to a head.

But you don’t have to be at the mercy of Zillow or any other platform. Below are some ways to ensure you keep your relationships with your clients personal.

Diversify your referrals

Just like you should never rely on one lead source, you should not rely on one platform for reviews.

For the last two years, Tom Ferry, a top real estate educator, bestselling author, and host of the Tom Ferry Podcast Experience, has coached his clients to diversify their reviews. In fact, when news of Zillow’s glitch was still fresh and the details were not fully known, Ferry uploaded a reel to Instagram reiterating his advice.

Bottom line: no one should ever keep all their eggs in one basket. If you do, you’re flirting with disaster.

A version of the old cliche warning of eggs in one basket.

Use Zillow for as long as you can (or wish), but additional places you can ask clients to post reviews include:

  • Google
  • Yelp[1]
  • Facebook
  • Realtor.com
  • Angie’s List
  • Homelight
  • RateMyAgent
  • Your website

Take the best reviews from third-party sites and include them on your website. Also, be sure to respond to all reviewers. Thank the good ones and offer to help find solutions for the not-so-good ones. (For tips about how to respond to haters and negative reviews, click here.)

Keep relationships fresh

Imagine if things had gone the other way, and you had lost your reviews.

Would you be in a position to call clients and ask for their help?

It’s one thing to ask a client for a review if you’ve provided good service and have been nurturing your relationship with them. It’s quite another to call out of the blue and ask for a favor if you haven’t been in touch.

Woman with glasses looking at computer screen making a phone call.

Gary Keller of Keller Williams Realty and author of The Millionaire Real Estate Agent recommends agents connect with people in their database at least 33 times a year . . . the more often you reach out, the more likely you are to stay top-of-mind.

But depending on the size of your database, that can take many hours out of your day.

At ReminderMedia, we coach our clients that the absolute best source of leads, endorsements, and referrals is your database. We offer tons of advice, free resources, and a host of automated tools to help you build and nurture relationships with the people in your sphere, including a high-quality, personally branded magazine we send every other month to agents’ exclusive list of contacts.

Follow up

Most agents, in fact, most sales professionals, don’t do nearly enough follow-up. The numbers vary but, generally, they look like this:

  • It takes about eight cold calls to reach a prospect.
  • Between 30-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.
  • After the initial meeting, 80% of sales require five follow-up calls. It’s unfortunate, but 44% of sales reps give up after one follow-up.

White flag on the battlefield

Following up is perhaps the best thing you can do, not only to convert a sale, but also to stay in touch with clients, strengthen relationships, and keep you top-of-mind. The ways you can follow up are limited only by your creativity:

  • Send a card on the anniversary of a client’s home purchase.
  • Make a call for the sole purpose of saying you appreciate them as a client.
  • Pop-by and leave a little gift with a note.
  • Mail a gift card and tell them you’d appreciate a review.

We can help you out with a free seasonal resource you can use to follow up with clients. Simply download, print, and attach a small bottle of hand sanitizer and your business card. Leave them with clients as a gift and they’ll be sure to appreciate your thoughtfulness. You can also consider leaving some in a few high traffic areas like doctors’ offices.

click here to download


It’s horrible to not feel in control; worse still, to feel like you’re at the mercy of other people’s actions. You can put an end to that feeling.

If you haven’t been nurturing relationships with your clients, it’s not too late.

Start by calling your most valuable clients. Let them know that even though it may have been a while, you wanted to reach out and say hello. Tell them you’re always available to help in any way you can. Whether you decide to send them our magazine and follow up afterward to ask how they liked it, or you find some other way to connect, take steps to take control of your future.


For more about behemoth brokers and iBuyers, check out iBuyers vs. Agents: Is This a War Agents Can Win?


[1] While it’s against Yelp’s rules to directly ask for a review, you can send them a link to your page.