Zillow’s Dirty Little Secret

Zillow recently announced AgentHub, a Trojan Horse free CRM tool for agents and Zillow’s Director of Industry Outreach, Jay Thompson, was the first to sing its praises as “handy”, “important” and “helpful”.

Jay didn’t mention Zillow’s dirty little secret: AgentHub’s Terms of Use.  In short, if you add a client contact to AgentHub, Zillow can do anything they want with it, including sell it to any third party.

Here’s Zillow’s Terms of Use, paragraph 3 in its entirety:

3. Materials You Provide; Account Use; Privacy; Third Party Web Sites. For materials you post or otherwise provide to Zillow or in connection with the Services (your “Submission”), you grant Zillow an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide license to (a) use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, and translate your Submission, in connection with the Services or in any other media, and (b) sublicense these rights, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law. Zillow will not pay you for your Submission. Zillow may remove your Submission at any time. For each Submission, you represent that you have all rights necessary to grant Zillow the rights in this paragraph and that the Submission complies with Section 2(a) above. You may not share your Zillow user account with others. You are responsible for all actions taken via your account. Zillow will treat your use of the Services in accordance with its Privacy Policy. Certain Zillow functionalities may involve the distribution of your Submission to third party Web sites over which Zillow has no control. Zillow is not responsible for and makes no warranties or representations pertaining to these third party Web sites, including but not limited to the content, availability, or functionality of such Web sites. You are responsible for ensuring that your Submission complies with the terms of use associated with any such third party Web site and you understand that your Submission and your use of a third party Web site will be treated in accordance with that third party Web site’s own privacy policy.  (Emphasis mine)

I reached that page by clicking on the “Terms of Use” link at the bottom of the “My Contacts” page on Zillow’s AgentHub.

We’ve all been told  that Zillow is filled with “wicked smart” people so this isn’t something they overlooked.  Maybe that’s what all those bloggers meant by “wicked”.  Zillow’s ‘Terms of Use’ make Facebook look like a pre-2009 Swiss bank.

So yeah, haters will hate but someone has to cut through all the butt-kissing adulation and  point out that Zillow’s emperor has no clothes.


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5 Responses to Zillow’s Dirty Little Secret

  1. victor lund says:

    Well done, Bill. I scoped that out too.

    On a good note, brokers and agents who have gotten leads from zillow will find that their leads are automatically populated to the agent hub along with all contact history. Agents also have the ability to export their contacts via CSV, which is nice.

    By the way, have your looked at the terms of use for most MLS systems that also have client portals?

    Disclosure: Zillow is not a client of WAV Group

    • rdrummer says:


      It’s interesting that you suggested comparing Zillow to an MLS. I haven’t seen terms of use for MLS systems with client portals but I did get a peek at a FAQ for KW’s eEdge CRM by Market Leader.

      “Agents’ contacts will still be their contacts, and they can take them with them if they leave. We won’t keep them. And we won’t ever market to those people in any way.”

      That’s KW’s core policy so I’m not sure if Market Leader follows the same terms in all of their partnerships or not.

      I agree the automatic population of Zillow generated leads along with the ability to export are nice features. However…

      The fact that Zillow has an “add contact” button along with those specific terms of use begs the question: What are they planning to do with agent’s client data? If they had no intention of using it for any reason, the wicked smart people would’ve created separate terms of use for AgentHub.

      Let’s see how (if) Zillow’s Industry Relations team addresses the issue.

  2. Jay Thompson says:

    Hi Robert, Jay T. from Zillow here.

    Thanks for pointing this out. The TOU you cited was never intended to include info agents and brokers upload to the CRM / Agent Hub. Zillow will not harvest anything from the contacts that agents input into the CRM, and the language of the TOU is being been updated to explicitly state this.

    • Jay Thompson says:

      The Terms of Use (Section 3) were updated on April 19 to include, “Zillow will not use client contact information that is uploaded by agents into Zillow’s Agent Hub portal for any purpose.”

      • rdrummer says:

        Thank you for the update, Jay. I apologize for missing that change.

        But since you brought it up….

        Correct me if I’m wrong but the updated ToU only applies to contacts that are “uploaded”. If a contact sees one of my listings and likes it enough to request more information via Zillow’s form, Zillow has an “irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide license to (a) use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, and translate your Submission”

        That would also mean that if the contact initially provides just their e-mail, but I later add phone number, notes, etc., Zillow would have the license to all of that contact information, since it wasn’t “uploaded”.

        I also find it odd that a Customer Relationship Management tool doesn’t have a “delete” option for contact information, uploaded or not.

        [Duplicate comment, but relevant on this post]

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