Rupert Murdoch playing hardball with Zillow

By January 6, 2015 One Comment operator Move Inc. subsidiary ListHub is set to stop sending listings to rival Zillow in 90 days, potentially cutting off the flow of hundreds of thousands of listings to the most highly-trafficked real estate portal on the Web.

But Zillow — which says an agreement with ListHub dating back to 2011 is set to expire on April 7 and will not be renewed — is positioning itself to get more listings directly from multiple listing services and brokers.

Zillow today announced the launch of a new “Data Dashboard,” a listing management and reporting platform that the company says puts more control over listings in the hands of MLS members and brokers.

Zillow said it’s already receiving direct feeds from “dozens of MLSs” and 4,000 brokers. By the time the ListHub agreement expires, the company expects to have the vast majority of its listings — at least 1.6 million of the 1.8 million for-sale listings on its site — transmitted through the Zillow Data Dashboard directly from MLSs and brokers.

Eventually, the company anticipates all listings published on Zillow to come through the dashboard.

Zillow’s agreement with ListHub dates back to April 2011 and has a 48-month term. The agreement was set to renew automatically for additional one-year terms unless canceled by either party with 90 days prior notice, according to a Zillow regulatory filing published today by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

There’s long been speculation that ListHub — which is owned by operator Move Inc. — might cut off the flow of listings to rival sites like Zillow and Trulia.

In the past, Move CEO Steve Berkowitz has said cutting off the flow of listings to other sites would not be in the best interests of ListHub’s broker and agent clients.

But Move was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. in November, and Berkowitz was scheduled to hand over the company’s reins this week to  News Corp. veteran Ryan O’Hara.

“We’ve not been able to come to terms with News Corp” over renewing the ListHub agreement, Zillow Chief Revenue Officer Greg Schwartz said today.

“The ListHub agreement will most definitely expire” in April, he said. He declined to elaborate further on negotiations between the two companies.

“A few hundred thousand listings” of the 3.6 million currently displayed on Zillow would be disrupted if the ListHub contract ended today, said Zillow spokeswoman Katie Curnutte. Zillow displays for-sale-by-agent, for-sale-by-owner, pre-foreclosure, new construction and rental listings, among others.

Schwartz was optimistic about obtaining direct feeds for those listings.  “I think we’ll be able to solve this one pretty quickly. We’re going to have a lot of connections over the coming months,” he said.

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