The Fallacy of Zillow, Trulia and the Online Listings Aggregators

avatarthumbnail.jpgThis morning I received a phone call from a homeowner who was stunned to learn that her home was for sale. Neither she nor her husband had signed any listing agreement, had authorized any advertising or had taken any action that would indicate they had placed their home on the market for sale.

Yet there it sits this morning on both Zillow and Trulia.

How? Because of an online flyer that was syndicated automatically to these two websites. A flyer that was created in the summer of 2006 and contains not only the list price from way back when but the contact information for an agent who hasn’t been hired by these owners to sell their home, partially because they’re my clients and more importantly because the home isn’t for sale.

Even though this home isn’t for sale, the sale listing has been viewed by a couple dozen people on Zillow and presumably about the same number on Trulia. To the folks who are searching online, either to augment their agent’s efforts or to supplant us silly, needless middlemen, this home appears to be for sale (albeit at a 2006 appropriate price.)

So how do you view this? Is this simply a minor hiccup caused by the automation of real estate listings and the aggregators’ methodology of accumulating listings that aren’t being submitted directly (or culled from the MLS a la Or is this more sinister, an infringement on the rights of an individual homeowner to not have their home being promoted as for sale when it’s not?

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • Spencer Rascoff 8 years ago

    Hi Jonathan,
    Stale listings from listings aggregators are indeed a problem and we work hard to minimize it. We always “trump” aggregator feeds with broker feeds, but that wouldn’t have helped in this situation.

    In this situation, the old listing agent needs to make sure the listing is no longer in the aggregators feed.

    Feel free to email me the address and I’ll look into it. (spencer at zillow dot com)

  • Jonathan Dalton 8 years ago

    I should have been more clear … this isn’t a stale listing. This listing was syndicated through on September 25 and is showing 13 days listed on It’s an old listing that’s been placed on the site as new.

  • Rudy 8 years ago

    Hi JD!

    This should not happen. I already have our engineers looking into it and we will remove it. Thanks for alerting me to it and for sending me the address.


    Social Media Guru for Trulia

  • Spencer Rascoff 8 years ago

    Please email me the address and I’ll get it fixed. Thanks!

    spencer at zillow dot com

  • Rudy 8 years ago

    Just removed JD…..Thank you!


  • Spencer Rascoff 8 years ago

    How did Rudy manage to remove it already? I don’t even know the address!
    Come on JD, you’re making me look bad.

  • Spencer Rascoff 8 years ago

    Thanks for letting me know. The listing has been removed from Zillow.

  • Jonathan Dalton 8 years ago

    Thanks, gentlemen!

  • jf.sellsius.theclozing 8 years ago

    A flyer from 2006?

    Funny, I thought you have to renew your listings on Trulia? Shouldn’t this one have fallen off for non-renewal?

  • Bob 8 years ago

    JD, In that instance it is a hiccup, but the way trulia uses foreclosure data that lists a home for sale simply because it is in default is not.

    They know this is misleading, yet still let it go on.

  • Jonathan Dalton 8 years ago

    Joe – this wasn’t a renewal. This was an old flyer that was freshly syndicated. I’m generously saying it’s coincidence though my real opinion of how this happened is different.

    Bob – by the same token, showing trustee’s sales where the bank is the lone bidder also leads to misleading data yet that shows up as well.

  • jf.sellsius.theclozing 8 years ago

    Hmm… So, if your listing is syndicated, you don’t have to renew it, while if you input it yourself you do?

  • Jonathan Dalton 8 years ago

    I think you do but that wasn’t the issue here. Syndication date according to Zillow was September 25. So … “somehow” this flyer belonging to the prior listing agent from his 2006 listing syndicated out as an active listing with all of his contact information.

    I’m not saying anything but I’m just sayin’, know what I mean?

  • jf.sellsius.theclozing 8 years ago


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