Zillow Talk: How Zillow Uses Your Personal Information

Zillow is the Market Leader… in selling your data.

The internet age is filled with a lot of enticing offers with a catch-22.

We’ve all encountered internet companies that promise a great service for free—all you need to do is give them your name and contact information. Sometimes, this catch isn’t so bad—if it’s a company you want contacting you periodically with sales and special offers, that’s great. The problem is when you don’t want them contacting you—or even worse, when they’re selling your contact info to others. This has, unfortunately, become an epidemic in the online real estate world, thanks to Zillow.

Websites like Zillow aren’t actually in the business of selling homes. They’re actually in the business of selling your information to advertisers and realtors—often realtors you’ve never met and didn’t want to be in contact with.

The Problem with Zillow’s Data Policy

 We touched on some of the general problems with searching for homes on Zillow in a previous post, but their privacy policy is worth a much closer look (we won’t link to it here, but it is available on their website).

The long and short of it is this: Zillow collects a lot of information about you when you use their site. Zillow collects cookies, mobile device and browser information, location data, and usage logs. These usage logs include your IP address, information on the device you used to access their site, network information, and browsing behavior. Using the site’s social features gives Zillow access to all of the social media information you share.

All of these are enabled by default, and disabling requires you to opt-out on their site or disable features on your browser or phone. Some of the site’s functions are tied to cookies, so disabling them limits your access to some of Zillow’s features.

Your Zillow Data is for Sale

 It’s worth noting that collecting user data isn’t abnormal for websites. Servers routinely collect the IP address of the devices that access them as part of the process of exchanging data over the internet. The problem arises in how that data is used.

Zillow shares significant personal data with third-party companies. Their privacy policy doesn’t include a list of which companies your data is provided to, either. When you submit your name, contact information, and types of homes you’re interested in, that information is being used by any number of companies to build an advertising profile for you.

Zillow Means Unwanted Calls

 As Austin, Texas realtor Kristina Modares says, “If you enter your information into online real estate databases, expect your phone to start buzzing.” Modares recounts one Zillow user who claimed they received north of 20 calls from realtors in one hour after putting contact information into the website. Modares warns a flood of emails, calls, and texts could last for months after one home search.

The reason for this is that Zillow is selling user data as “leads” to realtors. Many independent realtors are hungry for any new lead, so they’re willing to pay for this information. Most of these realtors don’t mean any harm—they’re trying to run a business and help people find their dream homes. However, when 100+ good-intentioned realtors are calling you, it can be a bit annoying.

So, what’s the solution for someone in the housing market?

Keller Williams Asheville Will NEVER Sell Your Data

 When you work with a Keller Williams Asheville professional, we retain control of every piece of information you provide us, and we don’t share it. The only people who will be contacting you about your listing or home buying process are the Keller Williams agents you are working with. We value a personalized, easy process. You’ll work only with the realtor you choose to work with, and you won’t get calls from anyone else.

The homebuying process is different than other things you do on the internet. You’re required to submit a lot of extremely private information about yourself—things you don’t want to share with just anyone. We know the real estate business is built on trust and we take that seriously, so we’ll say it again—when you work with a Keller Williams agent, you will only be contacted by that agent. That’s our promise.



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