Pay Me For My Listings

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Here’s something I hear again and again from real estate agents in the REMCamp network

“I’m a real estate agent and I work hard to earn my listings. The listing data is my listing data and if the large real estate portals want to use my data they need to Pay Me For My Listings. In the past we allowed you to use our listing data only for you to use the data to generate traffic to your website and then sell that traffic back to agents through your advertising products”.

So right now I’m going to take up the cause and join the movement of agents who believe it is fair that we get paid for our listings data.

I’m going to support the agents’ right to be paid for their data and sign up at and add my name to the national movement.

I’m going to adopt the hashtag #PayMeForMyListings and share it on social media.

I encourage you to do the same. Just click here and add your name and voice.

And to steal an old real estate chestnut – “there will never be a better time to sell.”

Because on April 7th the listing syndication agreement between Listhub and Zillow will be terminated. As a result Zillow will no longer receive listing data from Listhub. The reason this is important to the real estate industry is because Zillow (and Trulia) receives a significant percentage of its listing data from Listhub. The exact percentage is hotly disputed (15 to 40%) but it’s significant enough that Zillow is scrambling to contract directly with every major MLS and large Broker to receive a direct data feed from the MLS.

Just as importantly it looks like Zillow has the check book out. So while our MLSs, Boards and Brokers are cutting their own deals with Zillow no-one is cutting a deal for the one group that actually owns the data – the listing agent.

Forgotten in the fallout following the termination of the listing syndication agreement is the real estate agent. That’s me, you and another approximately 2.5 million licensed agents just like us. No-one is asking us if they can use our data. They’re striking deals that simply ignore us.

Let’s be honest – the main problem is the agents themselves. The problem is that we’ve never asked to be paid for our listings. We’ve never organized ourselves and presented a united demand to the real estate portals. Portals like Zillow may want to speak to us but don’t know who to speak to. In theory that may be NAR’s job but they have completely dropped the ball and haven’t represented our interests in this matter.

Let’s use an analogy like the NFL.

The NFL, like the real estate industry, is a multi billion dollar industry. In the NFL the agents are the players and the real estate portals are the media companies. In the NFL the media companies pay billions of dollars for TV licensing rights and then sell advertising on their portals to companies that want to reach their audience. The licensing rights money that the NFL receives is then shared with the players.

In the real estate industry the real estate portals are making hundreds of millions of dollars. They’re making that money using the agent’s data but aren’t paying the agents a dime for that data.

That makes us agents more like College football where the players aren’t paid.

Now let me make it clear that I’m not picking on Zillow. I’m actually a huge fan of the way Zillow built an exceptional user experience for the consumer. I think all the real estate portals should pay for our listing data. That includes, and any new initiatives like the rumored Broker led National MLS.

I also don’t believe that our Brokers, Boards, MLS’s and NAR have the right to license our data to the real estate portals. At least not without our participation as major stakeholders in any deal to license our listing data.

What I do know about Zillow is that they have a market capitalization of almost $5 billion, that they swallowed Trulia in a $3.5 billion deal, that they reported hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue last year and that they expect to spend around $100 million in advertising this year.

So when Rupert Murdoch swept in and ruptured Zillow’s achilles heel, their reliance on Listhub for syndicated listings, this created a time sensitive opportunity for agents to reclaim the rights to their listings. Zillow needs us right now because they need our listing data. Instead of spending $100 million on advertising they need to put $100 million into a listings licensing pool and license our data.

Yes I know some people will debate who actually owns the data. That may be something for the lawyers to argue. What I do know that is that agents create the data and we own the copyright. It’s our descriptions, photos and details that we compile into the creation of every listing. We’re the author of every listing. Yes the Broker may own the contract with the client but the Broker doesn’t own the listing data. That’s because almost all of us are independent contractors and like all independent contractors we own our work.

And I also don’t know what “getting paid” looks like. Is it cold hard cash per listing. Is it a pot, like TV licensing rights, to be shared by all agents? Is it as simple as the right to demand greater representation on the real estate portals when they display our own listings? I really don’t know.

And finally I don’t know what role I play in the fight to be paid for our listings. But right now I’m just happy to get the word out and share this cause with my colleagues.

But here’s the thing – if we don’t all go to and add our name to the list we’re never going to have our voice heard or our rights respected by the real estate portals.

Please join us and please add your comments below.