The Problem with Zillow for Serious House Hunters

If you are ready to buy a house in Northern Virginia or the Haymarket area and are using Zillow for your online home search, you may want to consider using a second option …

I heard an advertisement on SiriusXM the other day sponsored by Zillow. It talked about the typical trek buyers make through open house after open house in search of the perfect home. It then mentioned Zillow’s new text alert feature which can notify potential buyers of homes meeting their criteria as soon as they come on the market. It closed with a cheery text chime, “DING … and there it is, the perfect bungalow in your dream neighborhood”.

High-Res_Zillow_DeviceProductImage_b_01Zillow has a Real Estate App that offers text alerts as soon as homes you might be interested in come on the market. This is a useful feature, no doubt. Zillow has many useful features. However, here’s the problem. Zillow doesn’t necessarily get all the listings AS SOON AS they come on the market. Furthermore, Zillow doesn’t necessarily get all the listings period. This could be a problem for serious house hunters.

You may have heard in recent news that earlier this year Zillow terminated its relationship with ListHub, which syndicates or feeds listing data to Zillow. Remember, Zillow only publishes listings of homes for sale from other sources, they don’t manage the listings in any way.

Listhub is owned by Move Inc. which operates and National Association of Realtors. Zillow also acquired Trulia which fueled the termination of Listhub and Trulia as well. Effective in April, Listhub no longer streams MLS listing data to Zillow or Trulia.

This removed thousands of listings from automatic syndication. Zillow immediately began a campaign to sign on Multiple Listing Services (MLS) directly and has been successful. MRIS, the Multiple Listing Service for Northern Virginia, which most Realtors are affiliated with, has signed on. So, MRIS listings will automatically post on Zillow.

HOWEVER, not all listings will post, and not right away. Here’s why:

  • With this new system, real estate agents and brokers may choose to NOT have their listings streamed to Zillow.
  • Not all real estate brokers are affiliated with MRIS, therefore their listings may not appear automatically.
  • There is a delay in syndication. A new listing gets posted by the listing agent on MRIS and will appear on and their personal website if applicable. The listing agent may also send out notices through their marketing channels right away. However, the listing may not appear on Zillow just yet as their updating process may not have cycled through. Therefore, Zillow’s ‘alert’ will also be delayed.
  • Real Estate Agents without access to automatic syndication may choose to manually post their listings on Zillow, and that could be days later.

How does this affect a serious buyer? Well, that “perfect bungalow in the right neighborhood” may be gone by the time it appears on Zillow. Sure, it may only be several hours, but desirable homes do go fast.

RELATED: Buying a Home in Northern Virginia

I am affiliated with MRIS and I make sure my listings appear on Zillow. I know there are thousands of potential buyers using Zillow and it would be a disservice to my clients to limit visibility.

highschoolgrabNonetheless, I do recommend serious buyers also do their house hunting on or individual agent websites, like, for the most accurate and up-to-date homes for sale as well as price changes and status changes like contracts.

My website,, not only has my featured listings but it has ALL the MRIS listings in Northern Virginia as soon as they come on the market, and status changes appear immediately. Furthermore, It offers unique features that allow users to search by SUBDIVISION, GOLF COURSE and even HIGH SCHOOL.

Search all homes for sale in Northern Virginia


I too have a Listing Alert Feature. Sign up for Market Snapshot and get an email as soon as a new listing is posted. With Market Snapshot, you’ll also receive reports for real estate market trends in the neighborhood you are interested in including recent home sales, sold prices, days on the market and more.

Sign up below, or email me, Bryan Garcia with your request and I’ll get you set up right away.


Ready to look at some of the houses you see?

Call Bryan Garcia with EXIT Heritage Realty at 703-517-2574 and he can schedule appointments. Bryan knows the Haymarket area well and can help you find the perfect home.

Learn why Bryan Garcia is a Top Real Estate Agent in Haymarket area