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Zillow, DotLoop, and Your Data: Does It Matter?

Zillow is acquiring DotLoop. Fires are burning in real estate social media.

Let’s get this out of the way. There are tons of brokers and agents who dislike Zillow. Call them what you want. They’re here.

I’m a regular critic of the company when they (regularly) make moves that don’t seem in the best interests of brokers, agents, or their clients. I was also a big user of Zillow in the early years, contributing to thousands of posts, discussions, photos, etc. There are plenty of really good things the company does. I’m a (low grade) Zillow Premier Agent and have a team profile where I ask my clients to go and review us. We don’t use DotLoop, though I’ve heard it’s a nice product.

The crux of the concerns with the DotLoop and Zillow marriage is transaction data. Brokers and agents who don’t trust Zillow will now not trust DotLoop, or so we’re told by those most vocal folks in the discussion. Zillow’s been cramming this “we’re just a media company” down our throats for so long that it’s easy to wag it back at them as they squarely enter the real estate transaction.

Here’s what we’re all asking:

If brokers decide to continue using DotLoop, will Zillow now be able to use their transaction data, their past sales data, even their clients’ data?

*Updated*

Let’s stick to the facts. Here’s what the DotLoop data agreement that’s being quoted wideline online right now says:

“You automatically grant, or warrant that the User Content owner has expressly granted, to us (DotLoop) a worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferrable right to license to use, reproduce, distribute, create derivative works based upon, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, and publish your user content in connection with our services.”

But, that seems to be the verbiage from the terms when California Association of Realtors had a spat over dotloop.  Today, this is what I read today on dotloop’s website:

You own your Content

In connection with your use of our Services you may submit documents and other content (“your Content”) to the Services.

Subject to ownership interests of third-parties, you will retain full ownership of your Content. We don’t claim any ownership to any of your Content. These Terms do not grant us any rights to your Content or intellectual property except for the limited rights that are needed to run the Services.

We may need to access or otherwise process your Content solely for purposes related to the Services. You agree that we have your permission to access or process your Content for such purposes. This permission extends to trusted parties we work with to provide the Services. Such processing includes technically administering our Services by, for example, backing up data or enabling documents in portable document format (PDF) to be edited.

We will not knowingly share or allow anyone to access your Content other than as we describe in our Privacy Policy. It is yours and we work to keep it that way.

So, yes, they will have access to it, but if these new terms continue in place, they’ll be significantly limited in what they can do with your content.

Of course, terms and conditions usually change when ownership changes. Will these terms change? You tell me.

About Sam DeBord

Sam DeBord is a former management consultant and web developer who writes for for Inman News and REALTOR® Magazine. He is Managing Broker for Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, and 2016 President-Elect of Seattle King County REALTORS®. His team sells Seattle homes, condos, and Bellevue homes.

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  • Mike Price

    What does the equivalent agreement say for ZipLogix? They are partially owned by CAR and have no issue whatsoever selling access to third party tech companies that put them in the deal flow with access to Realtors and transactions. Zillow Group is a public company like any other that makes strategic decisions to generate revenue, sometimes through M&A activity. From what I know, DotLoop clients love the product and they have a respectable amount of business. The pull quote you used can be found in just about any related agreement and I would bet you could find almost the same thing, word for word in ZipLogix’s contracts as well. Seems to me like DotLoop is a smart move and is firmly within Zillow Group’s wheelhouse.

    The same Zillow haters bashed when they acquired Diverse Solutions. Zillow kept the brand, the team and added value to what is arguably one of the best solutions for IDX. It was good for Realtors because the product was able to get the support and funding needed to continue to innovate. Turns out it wasn’t part of an evil plan to wrestle control of the world’s real estate transactions.

    I’m curious, when GM set up a financing company and started acquiring parts manufacturers, did all the salespeople at dealerships see it as part of a strategy to replace them? If you were a part of the C-Suite at Zillow and responsible to the investors and board of directors, what would be your alternative strategy to the acquisition of B2B re technology as a means of revenue generation?

    • It’s hard to make relatable analogies to Zillow’s situation because few companies have significant parallels. Zillow is the dominant #1 “media company” in the real estate space, and a certain percentage of brokers and agents will always believe that its goal is to put them out of business.

      Even if that’s not true, it’s a factual part of the narrative that has to be addressed in any strategy or discussion. This move is a significant diversion from past stated positions of Zillow being only involved in advertising/media. That’s ok, but just like buying an IDX company, it’s going to be scrutinized.

      Zillow is a data company that sells advertising. They just moved from pre-transaction data to the entire transaction of data. Those that trust them will be ok with that. Those that don’t, won’t. We don’t need to convince them otherwise.

  • Mike Price

    What does the equivalent agreement say for ZipLogix? They are partially owned by CAR and have no issue whatsoever selling access to third party tech companies that put them in the deal flow with access to Realtors and transactions. Zillow Group is a public company like any other that makes strategic decisions to generate revenue, sometimes through M&A activity. From what I know, DotLoop clients love the product and they have a respectable amount of business. The pull quote you used can be found in just about any related agreement and I would bet you could find almost the same thing, word for word in ZipLogix’s contracts as well. Seems to me like DotLoop is a smart move and is firmly within Zillow Group’s wheelhouse.

    The same Zillow haters bashed when they acquired Diverse Solutions. Zillow kept the brand, the team and added value to what is arguably one of the best solutions for IDX. It was good for Realtors because the product was able to get the support and funding needed to continue to innovate. Turns out it wasn’t part of an evil plan to wrestle control of the world’s real estate transactions.

    I’m curious, when GM set up a financing company and started acquiring parts manufacturers, did all the salespeople at dealerships see it as part of a strategy to replace them? If you were a part of the C-Suite at Zillow and responsible to the investors and board of directors, what would be your alternative strategy to the acquisition of B2B re technology as a means of revenue generation?

  • Mike Price
  • I believe Zillow won’t do anything devious with the dotloop data.

    Zillow needs our listing data a lot more than we need Zillow. Take away our listings from Zillow and they become instantly irrelevant. Take Zillow away from us, and for most agents, it will be business as usual, although we might find an increase in leads coming from our own websites.

    Zillow understands how important those direct MLS feeds are, and won’t do anything that might jeopardize getting our listings.

  • rolandestrada

    Here is what the Zillow purchase really means.

    Zillow can’t rest on it’s laurels and hope that it’s business model remains the same forever. They need to keep and eye on diversification. Will it mean anything? Maybe not. The road is littered with acquisitions that didn’t pan out.

    Time Warner/AOL, HP/Palm, Google/Motorola, Microsoft/Nokia – I could go on.

    I do agree with Bryn that Zillow can’t screw the pooch and do anything that would turn broker and public opinion against them.

  • Austin Allison

    Hi All. Austin from dotloop here. Thanks for this post. I just wanted to be clear that as has always been the case, data will only be used for our services in ways that are permitted by the license in place with agents and brokerages. Nothing has changed. Hope that helps.

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