To the 100,000 Real Estate Professionals who are paying for impressions on Zillow and Trulia, you are directly funding, and supporting your competition. In fact, every time you post on social media using a Zillow link you are promoting a real estate "media" company that you are competing with. You're helping Zillow and Trulia outrank you online which is where 95% of consumers are shopping for real estate.
First we need to understand that Zillow is a publicly traded company, meaning they have investors they need to answer to if profits are not heading in the right direction. I'm not sure we need to go into more details other than the fact people make investments for one reason, to make money.
So what exactly does Zillow plan to do with the $108 million dollar company they just bought?
Zillow Acquires Dotloop, Setting Up To Compete vs. Realtors?
Guess who funded the deal that allowed Zillow to buy Trulia and to buy Dotloop? Real Estate Agents. Without realizing it, we are also helping promote their brand as they attract more sellers and buyers to their 'media' company.
Dotloop is an online digital offering that provides software to help real estate agents go from initial agency to closings. Zillow is now one step closer to taking complete control of a real estate deal from finding the home for sale online, to controlling the documents necessary to close the transaction.
Damage control time for Zillow to save face for the Realtors who fund their company. Expect a lot of marketing spin to keep agents (their consumers) happy. You will hear things like "we are improving our product offering," or "we are doing all that we can to create an incredible experience."
Zillow Sells Consumers on Inaccurate Data
Zillow is by far the most powerful real estate website in the world. With their 2.5 billion dollar acquisition of Trulia, they now control the top two most powerful real estate websites. What makes these sites so great is the incredible user experience they provide to their consumers. It certainly isn't the accurate data that keeps people coming back to search their site for homes.
However, when it comes to searching for real estate online user experience should come second to accurate data. There is no doubting their data is not accurate. From the homes for sale they display online, to using a zestimate to determine your home's value, their data is awful.
What Happened To Zillow and Trulia on April 7th, 2015?
CONTRACT TERMINATED. ListHub, owned by Move Inc. (which not so coincidentally owns Realtor.com), ended their agreement with Zillow and Trulia. Zillow and Trulia relied heavily on ListHub's syndication service to provide them the data necessary to accurately display homes that are for sale online. Check out this article on why Zillow is no longer the best Real Estate Website online.
So what is Zillow doing to help the consumers who use their website?
Reports say Zillow is Stealing from Local Realtors
So the company you are paying for advertising is now stealing data from local real estate agent websites! Hmmmm. That certainly sounds like Zillow has nothing but the best intentions, right?
How does it make local Real Estate professionals feel to know that Zillow is scraping their real estate website so that they can improve the accuracy of their own. If you spend a lot of money, time and effort on your website this should piss you off. Why is a website we are all competing against allowed to steal from us?
Zillow is displaying inaccurate data and doesn't care if they have to steal from Realtors if it will help them - and that's just data. Imagine when it comes to money.
It's frustrating enough to receive calls from clients saying "they saw a home on Zillow" that isn't actually for sale, now I have to find a new digital service provider because I refuse to support my competition.
What Can Realtors do to help Consumers Find Accurate Data?
Point consumers to the best local real estate websites where they will be able to view homes that are updated every 15 minutes. There is no data more accurate than your MLS (multiple listing service) and local real estate websites are connected directly to their feed.
You can find the best real estate websites online by going to google and typing in something that includes a local search term. Searches like "local Raleigh Realtor" or "homes for sale in Raleigh NC" should help bring up the top community real estate websites. Often times local real estate websites will offer you the ability to search homes for sale by school district and provide real estate information as it pertains to your area.
Reasons why local Real Estate websites are better than Zillow
- They have accurate data
- They contain local area knowledge
- Assuming the Real Estate Agent spent time and effort on their website, it's a great experience.
- You're supporting a local business vs national company.
Searching For Homes for Sale Online
If you are anything like me you are frustrated at the number of incoming calls from clients saying 'we saw a home on zillow' only to find out that the home doesn't exist. Sounds familiar right?
So if you want to help consumers, point them to local real estate websites where they can search for accurate real estate listings. Google is a great place to start when searching the web for anything, and houses are no different
If you don't do it to help your clients do it to help yourself as a Real Estate Agent. It's only a matter of time before Zillow continues collecting the pieces of the real estate puzzle. They are slowly piecing together everything they need to use glorified sales representatives to take deals from the start to the finish.
A lot of Real Estate Agents pay Zillow and Trulia hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per month to buy leads from their online marketing platform. A few years ago agents could make big bucks using this strategy, in today's market it's extremely competitive and the ROI from buying leads has significantly dropped.
Traffic levels for these national real estate website should decrease as well. More and more users are continually frustrated with Zillow and Trulia over the lack of data accuracy. A few times a month I receive calls from clients asking about a property on zillow that doesn't exist. All they have to do is search for homes for sale in Raleigh on my website if they want accurate data.
What Should Real Estate Agents Expect From Zillow?
Expect them to flip a switch at some point and give you an ultimatum. Join us or don't, you choose. You will then be funding them in ways you didn't think were possible back in 2015.
How many years will it take before they flip the switch? It's not going to happen over night, but when it does, it wont be pretty for anyone in the real estate industry.
Trying to remain neutral in this article is going to be difficult because to me, as a Real Estate Agent, the writing is on the wall.
If you're paying for Zillow impressions, or to advertise with them you should be fully aware you're funding your competition.
Are Local Real Estate Websites better than Zillow?
It all depends on the local real estate website and the Realtor who runs it, as well as if you'd prefer to support a local business or national one. There are a lot of great reasons to use a local website versus a national one when shopping for real estate.
There is a strong chance it is connected to the local MLS which makes the data more accurate than Zillow when shopping for homes online. There is nothing more important than accurate data, especially for consumers who can fall in love with a house via pictures, price and location only to have the Realtor break the bad news - that the home wasn't for sale.
Advertisements is how Zillow and Trulia make their money, so expect to see a lot of them on the national websites. A local Real Estate Agent will have local knowledge where as on Zillow and Trulia you're going to have anyone who is willing to pay for your information.
Our website is local to Raleigh, NC. If people are searching online for homes for sale in Raleigh, NC there is a good chance they will come across Zillow and Trulia as well as a lot of local Real Estate Websites owned by local Realtors. We are helping Zillow and Trulia outrank us online.
Final Thoughts on the Zillow-Dotloop Acquisition:
These thoughts are entirely my own and are intended to open people up to the future of the real estate industry. Technology plays a huge role with 95% of consumers finding homes for sale online.
One step closer to controlling a real estate deal from start to close. You search for homes for sale online, you use Zillow or Trulia. You close deals using online digital software like Dotloop.
Luckily for Realtors, on April 15th 2015 Zillow lost it's contract with ListHub and their data became far less accurate. Enough so that when people search houses for sale in Raleigh they tell us they prefer our website because our data is accurate.
CEO of Zillow, Spencer Rascoff, writes that Zillow sells ads and provides software. The ads generate leads and those leads that convert into deals are worth more.
Well what's more than that?
Hi there! I'm Ryan Fitzgerald, a REALTOR in Raleigh-Durham, NC and the owner of Raleigh Realty. Chances are you and I share a similar passion, Real Estate! I also have a passion for technology, sports, and people. Would love to hear from you. Drop me a note in the comments section below and feel free to share this article socially!