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Today’s “Ask the Expert” column features Chris Crocker, the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for Zillow.

Q: What is Zillow doing to deliver the most accurate information to consumers, agents and brokers?

A: As the real estate industry evolves to meet the growing expectations of empowered consumers, it is important to evolve faster than their demands. That means ensuring that real estate data is updated in near real-time so that the most accurate information is always displayed to the shopping public. The speed of syndication has grown rapidly over recent years, but few understand its mechanics. More importantly, even fewer understand the part they play to control its accuracy.

Displaying the most current home data to consumers has been an underlying, chronic issue in real estate reaching back to the era of the MLS book. The key differentiator between then and now is that consumers demand 24/7 mobile access to accurate real estate data. Zillow understands this. As part of its efforts to bring accurate information to consumers on behalf of agents and brokers, Zillow has a few data golden rules.

Rule No. 1: Best feed trumps all. By prioritizing the most trusted feed, which is often the broker or MLS feed, the listing displayed on Zillow has the most accurate and up-to-date data. If included in the feed, each listing provides an outbound link to the broker’s or agent’s site, enabling the consumer to contact them directly.

Rule No. 2: No repopulation. If newer information for a listing is submitted outside the broker feed from another source, it will not be included so as to protect the integrity of the data. Listing agents are always able to enhance their inventory on Zillow with additional photos and virtual tour links.

Rule No. 3: Maximize frequency. From two-person shops to larger national franchise partners like CENTURY 21 and RE/MAX, Zillow works with brokers to optimize their feed run frequency to their technical capacity, ensuring the most up-to-date information is pulled as often as possible.

Zillow also engages in extensive data policing through human intervention, filtering systems, complex algorithms and scores of support staff who focus solely on improving accuracy.

Now that we’ve pulled the curtain back on the mechanics of data syndication, here are some tips to ensure you are getting the most accurate version of your data in front of the 58 million unique users on Zillow every month (Internal tracking via Google Analytics, Nov. 2013).

-Connect your feed directly to Zillow—for free. Every brokerage can connect to Zillow, regardless of size or IT infrastructure. As a Zillow Pro for Brokers partner, the listing agent, broker name and contact details—and an outbound link to the broker’s website—are included on every listing for free.

-If you’re already connected, check your feed-run frequency. It could be higher. Why update the information shoppers are seeing four times a day when you could update eight times a day for no extra effort? Increasing your frequency helps get the most accurate data in front of consumers, thus reducing the staleness of listings and the associated frustration of your agents.

-Select the best syndication engine. Zillow works with nearly all syndication companies. In your market, there may be another syndication path that updates more frequently than the path you are using today.

Interested in a free feed analysis? Contact Chris Crocker at crocker@zillow.com.

For more information, visit www.zillow.com.

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