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Zillow Funneling of Customers to “Premier Agents” Connecticut Class Action

Zillow’s online platform dominates the market for buying and selling homes. It “purports to make the process of buying and selling residential real estate less complicated and lower priced[,]” says the complaint for this class action. However, the complaint alleges that its power in the market allows it to “tilt the real-world playing field in favor of its own favored customers”—its Premier Agents, who pay Zillow fees to funnel homebuyers to them.

The class for this action is all real estate brokers, sales agents, and other similar real estate personnel in Connecticut and, in some instances, individual home sellers and buyers.

Zillow is the dominant platform for homebuyers, the complaint alleges, with 80% of homebuyers using Zillow when they’re looking for a home.

The complaint alleges that Premier Agents on Zillow “pay[] fees to [Zillow] so that they can be associated with properties which they do not have a listing relationship with.” Premier Agents provide Zillow with revenues, so that the company “is incentivized to re-direct inquiries made to listing agents and skew its design and interface cues to benefit Premier Agents[,]” the complaint asserts.

How does this work? Homebuying customers browse the website for properties. Under normal circumstances, when they find a property they like, they will contact the listing agent, who has the closest tie with the seller. But the complaint alleges that, on Zillow, customers are offered a Contact Agent button that takes them not to the listing agent but to a Premier Agent—in other words, they are “deliberately re-routed” to an agent who may have no connection to the property but who has paid Zillow to favor them in this way.

The complaint claims the Premier Agents, who aren’t the ones listing the property, “will benefit by further discouraging the prospective buyer[s] from the property that caused them to be funneled to a Premier Agent in the first place.”

The complaint alleges that “[i]t requires a knowing and conscious effort on the part of the consumer who wishes to scroll through the information and discern the actual listing agent from the non-listing, Premier Agents.”

According to the complaint, this “funneling” process is unfair to regular real estate brokers and listing agents and also harms customers, who don’t know they’re being funneled. The complaint charges that the agents are letting Zillow “portray them in a way that would be illegal and unethical for the Premier Agents to do directly.”

The complaint also calls Zillow’s “Zestimates,” or the market values it assigns to homes so that it “effectively advertises properties at a price the seller never authorized[,]” the complaint claims.

It claims Zillow is attempting to monopolize residential real estate markets.

The complaint alleges unfair competition, violations of Connecticut state law, and violations of the Sherman Act’s provisions against restraint of trade.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Antitrust

Most Recent Case Event

Zillow Funneling of Customers to “Premier Agents” Connecticut Complaint

June 14, 2021

Zillow’s online platform dominates the market for buying and selling homes. It “purports to make the process of buying and selling residential real estate less complicated and lower priced[,]” says the complaint for this class action. However, the complaint alleges that its power in the market allows it to “tilt the real-world playing field in favor of its own favored customers”—its Premier Agents, who pay Zillow fees to funnel homebuyers to them.

Zillow Funneling of Customers to “Premier Agents” Connecticut Complaint

Case Event History

Zillow Funneling of Customers to “Premier Agents” Connecticut Complaint

June 14, 2021

Zillow’s online platform dominates the market for buying and selling homes. It “purports to make the process of buying and selling residential real estate less complicated and lower priced[,]” says the complaint for this class action. However, the complaint alleges that its power in the market allows it to “tilt the real-world playing field in favor of its own favored customers”—its Premier Agents, who pay Zillow fees to funnel homebuyers to them.

Zillow Funneling of Customers to “Premier Agents” Connecticut Complaint
Tags: Antitrust, Deceptive Advertising