Zillow logo and a real estate agent showing a house to a couple and their baby.
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Zillow offering 7-day ‘touring agreement’ for agents 

The NAR settlement does not address home search portals, but Zillow wants to make it easier for buyers to try out an agent in a way that aligns with new rules.

April 30, 2024
3 minutes

Key points:

  • Zillow’s touring agreement is good for seven days and doesn’t include any fees.
  • If a buyer wants additional services from the agent, they would need to work out a separate, more comprehensive agreement.
  • “Any negotiation of compensation … should happen after both meet and feel ready,” said Zillow’s Errol Samuelson.

Zillow is getting into the buyer agreement game, offering a non-exclusive contract for home tours ahead of rule changes going into effect this summer.

The Zillow Touring Agreement is meant to promote transparency and make it easier for homebuyers and agents to arrange showings, said Errol Samuelson, Zillow's chief industry development officer, in a blog post and email shared with Real Estate News.

The touring agreement is good for seven days and only covers touring activities. Per the agreement, the buyer would not pay any fees for touring services, but if additional services are requested, the buyer and agent would need to work out a separate, more detailed agreement.

"We believe any negotiation of compensation, and what it will look like for the buyer and agent to work together, should happen after both meet and feel ready," Samuelson said. 

"For many buyers, touring with an agent is valuable. At the time when an additional agreement is signed, the buyer and the agent should be aligned on all terms and expectations, including compensation, with no surprises."

Zillow 'calling on the industry' to adopt consumer-friendly option

The terms of the NAR settlement don't require home search portals like Zillow to offer consumer-facing agreements, but Samuelson said the company believes it has a responsibility to provide tools for the industry that put the consumer first.

"While we recognize the form of this agreement will vary by state, we're calling on the industry to adopt a non-exclusive, limited-duration agreement for the initial tours conducted by an agent with a prospective buyer," Samuelson said.

For now, the company is only focused on these non-exclusive, seven-day forms. It is leaving the development of exclusive agreement forms up to state Realtor associations and brokerages.

Zillow's touring agreement form is available now, and the company wants to be flexible in how it works so it aligns with industry association standards.

The proposed rule changes that start going into effect in July include a requirement that MLS participants working with buyers must have a written agreement before showing a home.

Zillow's form allows agents to abide by that mandate — without having to convince buyers to commit to an exclusive arrangement right away. Instead, it gives buyers a chance to get to know the agent before agreeing to a fee-based relationship. 

Insisting that a buyer sign an exclusive, long-term agreement with an agent they've just met (or perhaps haven't even met) feels premature, Samuelson said.

"Most buyers want and need an expert on their side — we don't see that changing," Samuelson said. "This makes finding the right agent that much more important, and it's why upfront conversations about expectations and compensation are critical."

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