San Diego real estate agent Jim Abbott

The battle over online real estate listings is starting to heat up again. Jim Abbott, president of the Abbott Realty Group and a 20-year real estate veteran in San Diego, recently announced plans to pull listings from Trulia, Realtor.com, Zillow and other online real estate sites. In a YouTube video announcing the plan (posted below), Abbott offers some colorful and damning language about the practices of these companies. The remarks have once again sparked a debate on the role real estate agents play in 2012, and how listing services play a role.

“All listing syndicators have one thing in common: They act as middlemen and post our valuable listing data alongside the contact information of other agents and brokers who rent ad space on their sites,” Abbott said in the video. “Usually, they do this with our permission, while claiming that exposure of our listings in any way on the Internet is a good thing. Time and results prove that it is absolutely not.”

He adds that neither the home buyer nor the home seller is “remotely well served by listing syndicators.” And he goes on to call Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com “slick advertising platforms” which use “fear and peer pressure” to sign costly long-term contracts for lead generation services.

Abbott’s comments go a step further than remarks that Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman made last October in which he said media sites such as Trulia and Zillow would “enslave” real estate brokerages if the brokers didn’t find ways to innovate.

Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff

Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff is now jumping into the fray, posting a detailed commentary about listings syndication on the company’s blog. Rascoff’s point is that the real estate business has changed, allowing brokerages to “strategically” post their listings in the most effective (and biggest) channels.

“Strategic Distribution is an important part of a broker’s marketing strategy. It is very important for brokers to put their listings where buyers will find them — this is critical for agent recruitment and retention, and to help sell clients’ houses,” he writes. “It is for these reasons that nearly every major brokerage in the country has chosen to put their listings onto Zillow.”

Rascoff’s remarks were backed up by Jay Thompson who writes under the blog “The Phoenix Real Estate Guy.”

Interestingly, the debate is similar to what occurred in the travel business (a sector Zillow executives know very well given their Expedia roots) where airlines debated whether it made sense to have airfares posted on sites such as Kayak, Orbitz and Expedia. (To this day, airlines such as Southwest have chosen not to play ball with the “syndicators.”)

Here are Abbott’s remarks in which he sounds off on a number of topics, claiming that the online real estate services are engaged in theft of intellectual property and force home shoppers to sift through thousands of “bogus postings” and redundant advertising.”

“We demand … that any marketing plan produce tangible results, not meaningless hits in cyberspace,” he says.

Comments

  • http://sawickipedia.com/ todd sawicki

    LOLOLOLOL.  Mr. Abbott is hilarious.  Can you say marketing #FAIL?

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Mr. Abbott for eliminating middlemen in the real estate industry! When I list my house for sale, I don’t want people to find it through intermediaries. I want buyers to come to my agent directly.

    • guest

      Nice try, Mr. Abbot.

      • Sandra Valladares

        I love this comment….in other worlds..Just make sure that your agent is willing to go the extra mile and always be there to attend phone calls, texts, emails from other agents….sometimes they have their own buyer and do not want to accept another offer. Respectfully, Sandra Valladares

    • http://profiles.google.com/hivebrain Michael Schneider

      Your post is sarcastic, right?  When you list your house for sale, it shouldn’t matter whether the buyer contacts your agent directly or has their own agent that contacts your agent on their behalf.  The only upside to having the buyer contact your agent directly is that your agent gets the chance to represent both sides of the transaction, doubling his commission and possibly creating a conflict of interest since he or she now has to split his loyalties between you and the buyer.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremyirish Jeremy Irish

      I’d assume you’d just want to sell your house.

    • RAWalkerRealtor

       That is a good way to sit on your home for a good long time. Good luck with that mindset!

    • Hns

      If you are selling a home, why would you care where a buyer is coming from. In my opinion eyeballs are eyeballs. Being a managing broker of a real estate company and a broker since 1999. I feel the the least valuable part of the transaction is the Realtor. Why should a middle man a Realtor, make so much for doing so little?

    • joe blow

      or you can save 6% and do it yourself with help from Zillow or Trulia.

      • Eric

        You can’t “save” commission by selling FSBO. 97% of houses in my area sell through MLS, so all comps have somewhere between let’s say 4% and 8% taken off the top in fees. So if you comp your house out based on MLS sales you’re at least 4% overpriced right out of the box if your going FSBO. Unless you can explain to a buyer why he/she should pay you that extra 4% when you have no knowledge or experience with any of the forms or know about any of the bad (nightmare) scenarios that could come up. Not to mention having other qualified buyers being brought in by other MLS agents rather than random folks calling you up. Unless you really know what you’re doing, don’t go FSBO.

    • Jeff goldblum

      Oh my lord, the replies to this comment seem to have no idea that it was a clever humor joke lampooning the real-estate industry.

  • http://profiles.google.com/hivebrain Michael Schneider

    Not putting allowing “their” listing information on sites like Redfin does the agent’s client a disservice, and puts the real estate agent’s interests above their clients.  It is pretty clear from Abbot’s statement that his concern is that the listings will be shown next to the contact information for other agents.  This kind of thinking is just going to put real estate agents in the ground even faster.  As a buyer, I spend hours on sites like Redfin looking for houses that might be worth seeing.  I think most young people in the market for a home do the same.  Any seller’s agent that doesn’t allow his listings to be posted on sites like Redfin is totally screwing his client.  Just a matter of time before his clients start asking why their friends can’t find their house for sale on the internet?

    So funny that he calls syndication sites middlemen.  As a real estate buyer, I see the agent as the middleman.  Buyer’s find the house they want on Redfin, and then are forced into using the agent as a middleman to view the house or submit an offer.

    • Anonymous

      Redfin is a brokerage, not a “syndication site.”  We have agents and are members of the local MLS (in Seattle, San Diego, and most other major markets around the country).  As members of the MLS, we have direct access to the database that contains all the homes for sale, directly from other brokers (including Jim Abbott’s ARG).

      • Guest

        As an employee of Redfin, Tim, what do you think about Mr. Abbott’s video?

        • Anonymous

          As a Redfin employee, I’m going to stay out of this debate for now…  I did post some of my personal (completely non-Redfin-endorsed) opinions on my blog over the weekend here: http://goo.gl/bdx7M and http://goo.gl/EUwyA

          • Guest

            This is good. Thank you for posting your opinion and staying out of the debate. I’ve found it’s best to simply be confident in one’s own opinion without dealing with the tedium of discussion.

      • http://profiles.google.com/hivebrain Michael Schneider

        Thanks for the clarification.  I see Redfin as the future of real estate transactions.  Individual buyers are much more incentivized and interested in browsing homes on the web than their agents.  Before Redfin, that information wasn’t nearly as accessible or enjoyable to navigate. 

    • Anonymous

      FYI: Estately is one of the only other nationwide sites with full MLS database access, which means more homes, more accuracy and better data.

      • Army Veteran

        Nope, they’re not in the Fort Knox market.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3L4XYGYOWAAZGXWTKOEVHC4ZZQ Mary

      Michael, as an agent we aretaken hostage by these third party sites.  We have to pay them big dollars to list our properties correctly and then to have our names posted on their sites.  If you don’t pay to have your name on the site, then buyers think you do not sell properties in that area.  Take this amount of money times 3,4,5 and six different 3rd party sites.  They set the fees up by zipcode. I was spending almost $1000.00 per month for these sites plus my regular advertising costs. Not any more.  Is there bogus stuff on the site, most definitely ! I received an email this morning for a land posting, the owner had themselves listed as an agent, my name appeared as a buyers agent and the listing is bunk.  It is all swamp land, it is not listed with an agent.  Another listing a week ago showed a lot of land – 65 acres for $20,000.  Can you imagine how many phone calls I received ?  There is no such thing as purchasing usable land at that price.  The potential buyers got mad at me …how dare I list land with the wrong info.  Zillow says that this is an opportunity to capture this business, really?  I would do the same thing, I would never have anything to do with thaat agent, it looks like false advertising.  If we like, we get to pay for Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Yahoo, homes.com, and many more.  This is on top of our website ads, newspaper ads etc.

      • Brad Andersohn

        Hi Mary – Brad from Zillow here.  We take no hostages or prisoners.  We charge nothing to have your listings on our site and every listing agent appears on their listings absolutely free. 

        I think when people make false claims, it fuels others just like Mr Abbott with inaccurate information that simply IS NOT TRUE.

        Please take a look at and read “how Zillow works with listing agents.
        http://www.zillow.com/blog/2012-02-03/how-zillow-works-with-listing-agents/

        Every listing on our site shows the agent and the source by which it comes to Zillow.  If the home is not for sale/listed, and there are over 100,000,000 million of those, then local Premier agents and Zillow contributors do show up on the sidebar to help our viewers if and when they’re ready to make a buying/selling/borrowing decision.

        30,000,000 unique users visited Zillow in January 2012, and we are always looking for and trying to connect those users to willing and able local agents who want to help them with their real estate endeavors.

        If you are ever unclear or need any additional information about how our site works or how we do things, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy and willing to help you along with anyone else who would like a better understanding of how Zillow works and how we can help it work better for you too.  Thanks.

        • Steve Colburn

          Hi brad I just checked one of my listings and I am not the contact it’s my brokers relocation company which sucks because they charge 35 percent

          • http://twitter.com/BradAndersohn BradAndersohn

            Hi Steve – your Broker may have set it up that way. You can always go to the property detail page and “claim the listing” using the edit option, but be sure to check with your Broker first. They may have it setup that way for a reason I’m unaware of. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help? Thanks.

    • The Man

      Schneider, you’re a moron. Keep your mouth shut like a good little boy. Okay.

  • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

    Could there be more old-school rhetoric in this guy’s video? He runs a large brokerage, and he is free to use whatever advertising vehicles he sees fit. But the bombastic claims he makes against the use of Zillow and Trulia border on irresponsible.

    1) I don’t think a home seller is going to see their home listing as “intellectual property”. They are vehicles to market their home, and sellers want to see it in places where buyers visit. Clearly sites like Zillow and Trulia fit that description. Yes, you should abide by photography licensing agreements, but there is nothing “intellectual” about a 500 character description and details like # of beds/baths.

    2) None of these sites are “stealing listings” or creating “bogus postings” to create inflated inventory. The accuracy of their listing data comes from brokerages like his own, not Zillow and Trulia. The mechanisms exist to post accurate data. Yes, there are data quality issues on these sites, but I invite you to spend an afternoon with the MLS databases. They too are loaded with inaccurate data, mostly through agent laziness.

    3) Did this guy feel “fear and peer pressure” to place newspaper ads during his previous 20-years? Is that so different than online advertising?

    4) He claims that listings on these sites do not cause buyers to view those homes. Based on our experience with Zillow/Trulia listings in Seattle, that claim is patently false.

    5) Sites like Zillow and Trulia have slowed the recovery of the housing market by deceiving the public with inflated inventory?? That is total BS. The recovery of the housing market hinges on job/income growth and flushing the distressed home inventory out of the system. Hopefully his brokerage didn’t engage in the “never been a better time to buy” pressure tactics that helped us land where we are today in the housing market. The recovery of the housing market is not related to internet advertising sites.

    • http://walawrealty.com marc_h

      Kevin,

      I’m not saying this guy isn’t off his rocker but do you really believe that these third party sites contribute much to actually getting a given home sold?  In other words, do many of your clients find the home they ultimately buy on such sites (or, in the case of sellers, the buyer who ultimately buys their house)?

      In my firm’s experience I can’t think of very many and none off hand.  Except that is, for myself.  I found my home as a for sale by owner listing on Zillow.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremyirish Jeremy Irish

        They most certainly contribute to selling a home.

        I used many different sites in researching our new home last year, ultimately using Redfin to both sell our old home and purchase our new one. Different sites have different search criteria, and I welcome this kind of competition as it continues to add more features to the home buyer (and seller) so we have control over the process.

        When we sold our house and bought a new home in 2004 it was a distinctly different experience where we felt held hostage by MLS forcing us to use a gatekeeper, at least until our gatekeeper shared their MLS password with us.

        The bottom line is if you hide your listings from Zillow and other sites, a qualified home buyer like me won’t see it. That’s just a disservice to the person selling a home in an already difficult market.

        • http://walawrealty.com marc_h

          Jeremy,
           
          I agree that a smart buyer keeps an eye on many different resources for potential homes.  My advice is pick two MLS-member brokerage websites to follow actively marketed homes, i.e., Redfin, Windermere, JohnLScott, etc.  One might not be enough because they don’t all refresh at the same speed and errors do happen.  More than 2 can be overwhelming for some people.
           
          Set up alerts on these sites and do your own searches as often as you’re inclined.  Review them at least weekly, if not daily.  Then also check out Zillow and Craigslist on a more occasional basis to find non-MLS listed properties, i.e., for sale by owner, make-me-move, etc.  Once a week is often plenty. 
           
          Sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com do not have direct feeds to the MLS and, as Mr. Abbott can attest, not all brokerages provide their listings.  Accordingly, these third party sites are not good resources for MLS listings – they’re incomplete and they’re also not timely.  Redfin, Windermere, and the like can refresh every 15 minutes whereas Zillow can take up to 72 hours to show a new listing (and that assumes the agent initiating the syndication doesn’t screw it up which is very easy to do).

          • Cynthia Nowak

            marc_h – Cynthia from Zillow here. I just wanted to let you know that Zillow updates every feed at least
            once a day.

          • Driving my Bentley

            Zillow updates with feeds from whom?
            Sadly, not the local MLS provider.
            But from other real estate websites like Homes.com.
            Subsequently, there are too many listings on Zillow or Trulia that have long since been SOLD yet they are still listed and marketed as “Active.”

          • http://twitter.com/BradAndersohn BradAndersohn

            All of our listing information comes from partners who feed us listings, such as MLS’s, brokerages and individual agents. 

            Zillow obtains listings from multiple sources which include a direct agent feed, broker/franchise feed, a MLS feed, and finally third party syndicators. 

            Zillow invests massive resources in making our listings as accurate as possible. We are working hard with all of our partners to always improve listings accuracy.

    • http://twitter.com/spencerrascoff Spencer Rascoff

      Bravo Kevin. Bravo.

    • The Man

      Kev. You lost my respect on the word ‘bombastic’. We don’t need your rhetoric or your spam on this site. Take a hike you prick.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JHV5XPLVU6G5RNTNHVI6EP7ZEI Bill

    Just a thought.  Mr. Abbott states at 1:25 that they’ve spent “3 years, carefully examining internal metrics from where our listing appears”.

    If the past 3 years have been cataclysmic for the housing market, how would 3 years of data be applicable?  

  • http://twitter.com/chuckgoolsbee chuck goolsbee

    Dinosaurs never roar louder than when tiny mammals show them up by scurrying too fast to be caught and eaten.

    • Sldofj43

      We use Zillow because we hate dealing with sleazy fast talking salesman/middlemen like Mr. Abbott. I hate real estate agents, they are horrible. Cut them out of the deal!

  • Davidbowman

    Jim Abbot is why I use Movoto, Sawbuck, and Redfin. Who likes dealing with self-centered blowhard ugly loud real estate hucksters? I sure don’t. Cut them out of the deal! Sales agents suck!

    • Michael Sthilaire

       Real Estate Agents, please read the above.  Zillow and Trulia make consumers happy, they are search tools and they do an excellent job.  However if you think about it, David is just solidifying Jim Abbot’s point.  Buyers would happily cut out the middle man if they could, and thats exactly the direction things are moving if agents don’t start taking some action.  Think about it.  There are a lot of FSBO on these sites as well, in fact the aggregators embrace them wholeheartedly.  Is that the direction agents want the real estate industry moving?  I would think not.

  • LGrey

    While his solution is a bit radical…his points are spot on. Unfortunately, people are focusing on the pulling away from those sites rather than the how the public is being deceived by those sites. Try this – write down what you house is worth. Now go to Zillow and compare vs their “Zestimate”. In my case, if I wanted to sell, they would be working against me and 100% based on erroneous information. They value my home at $155,000 while identical floorplans in the same neighborhood are $225,000. The schools listed were wrong, all in a different county and not even eligible to attend. The 3 Realtors offering to sell my home if I listed are there because they bought the zip code from Zillow and work across town, while there are 3 other Realtors that actually live in the subdivision, know it well, but didn’t pay Zillow. Guess who I would want to list with. Finally, the “recent sales” they used to justify that low price IGNORED the recent sales in my subdivision, but pulled from lesser neighborhoods within a mile of the home.

    While I used Zillow, like could be said of Realtor.com, Trulia and others, as they actuallt mislead the consumer pushinf Realtors that paid them. And it is not the fact that other Realtors chose not to pay, rather they limit the zip code to 2 or 3 for the exclusivity, then close it. The public is grossly being mislead!

  • Craig

    What should really be at the heart of issue is how as Realtors we pay a local MLS to enter listings and MLS in turn sells our listings to syndication sites thereby earning themselves money and profit. Do we ever see any money that they make reselling our data? It’s our listing is it not? Why are we paying MLS while they are getting paid by the syndication sites to use our listing data, photos, etc? Shouldn’t they be paying listing brokers (even a small percentage)?

    Wouldn’t it be something to see listing brokers getting together and pooling all their listings in one place and if Zillow, Trulia, etc want access to the data they have to pay the listing agents. It’s our contract with the seller. Seems like big loophole that MLS can resell our data so freely and keep 100% of the money they make. Sounds like there is a business opportunity here.

  • Readvisor

    As a Exclusive Buyer Agent, I only sometimes search these sites for properties.  Why?  Because roughly 40% of Properties never even get listed.  I network directly with the agent who finds the property who in turn calls me.  If there is a match with my Buyer clients, that deal never sees the MLS.  Therefore the general buying public searching on these sites never really have access to the best deals out there.  If more agents would do the same, Trulia and Zillow wouldn’t exist. Except maybe for not so serious buyers, who love sitting in front of a Computer Screen.  Time to get rid of all these mooches who prey on naive real estate agents for a buck! 

  • LGrey

    Craig…you are right on, except you stopped too soon. In addition to the MLS selling it to the syndication, they syndicators then resell it back to the Realtors their own information. Worse, they deny them secondary sales on their marketing efforts by selling exclusive or limited (2 or 3 subscribers) exclusive zip code areas to receive those leads based on the other’s data.

    A lot of people do not understand “intellectual property”, and simply because the own the home does not mean it is their “intellectual property.”  I am a professional photographer who specializes in high end real estate photography. As is typical in the field, I retain the copyright to the photographs and the Realtor or home owner receives a (very liberal) license to use the photos in the marketing of the home, however, they cannot re-sell them. Realtors taking the photos of the home own the copyright to those photos. That is their intellectual property (irrespective of how bad the photos may be.) Likewise, the narrative that they write up on the home is their intellectual property…just as if they had written a novel.

    My relationship and license was with the Realto or homeowner that originally paid me. I absolutely DO NOT have a relationship with Trulia, Zillow, and others. However, they are taking my copyrighted material that represents my “intellectual property” but they ar capitalizing on it without reimbursing me, (or whomever took the photo or wrote the narrative.) Worse, the customers they are selling it back to are the very same people he crated or licensed it in the first place.

    For those that still have a hard time understanding it…Hypothetically, you take a grea photo of a local event and the local newspaper pays you for it. It was such a great photo, that Time magazine made it a cover photo. Wouldn’t you ecpect to be paid by Time also as they are commercially using your work for their benefit.

  • http://twitter.com/JonKolsky Jon Kolsky

    Thank you, I’m sure most of the haters that have replied are from zillows anonymous special interest group. You are right on target. Zillow lacks transparency

    • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

      Have you met Spencer and his team? “Lacks transparency” is hardly a word that comes to mind. They certainly don’t have anonymous trolls posting comments.

      • The Man

        Real classy Kev. Like a true gutter rat. You worthless piece of trash why don’t you act like a CEO of a company instead of a lowlife putz who in his spare time incorporated a badly designed website.

      • http://activerain.com/blogs/lbactiveagent Jon Kolsky

        Kevin~ Yes I have met Spencer & his team and unfortunately that’s the perfect description…& as far as anonymous trolls posting on their site, it’s true! Obviously you don’t know anything about their website or you would know their TOP contributors have names like wetdawgs, sunnview, & pasadena…All which post anonymously…

  • ssloan

    Residential real estate agents will be a thing of the past in 10 years.  They offer no value beyond what buyers and sellers can do for themselves given today’s technology, yet they refuse to change their practices and continue to overvalue their services.  Some areas of the country charge 8% in fees.  Really?  I am capable of hiring my own inspector and closing attorney, thanks. 

    • Driving my Bentley

      I’d love to see your “closing attorney” go out of his/her way to accommodate the particular needs and requests imposed by just about all the seller’s and buyer’s I have worked with in the last 10+ years.
      Delirious. Please go back on your meds.

  • http://twitter.com/BrokersWest Vince Curtis

    Brave move. It will take time to see if this is a trend of the future or a mistake. People dont like to be deceived on the internet, and an syndicator ‘area specialist’ who pays to be one is just that. Brokers sold a lot of home before ZIllow and Realtor.com were around….

  • Driving my Bentley

    Brilliant, Mr. Abbott.
    What a brilliant way to double-end the broker commission on the listing.

  • Guest

    The problem with this approach to selling real estate is that it is too agent focused and does not serve the home owner who is selling their home, nor the buyers’ best interests.

    • http://twitter.com/spencerrascoff Spencer Rascoff

      Hi,
      Out of town today. Might be slow on email.

      Thank you,
      Spencer

  • Fred Glick

    My comments.  http://youtu.be/NjzyF0ltvRk

  • http://www.nateshort.com/ Nate

    I have been very entertained in viewing this video and perspective and in looking through the comments from Glenn Kelman and Spencer Rascoff.  I am one of the few people who has considerable experience with Zillow, Redfin, Trulia and has an in depth knowledge of the brokerage industry as well.  In 2011, I actually was in top 100 agents of more than 16,000 in the NWMLS.

    First, my comment on Zillow: I spent over $10K advertising on their site.  After almost 2 years, I received only 1 valid lead which did result in a sale.  I invested 10K and made about 10K after overhead and taxes.  Net I actually lost money considering the time I put into the listing and the opportunity cost of putting those monies into other advertising efforts.  Zillow I believe has no real sustainable business model, at least in regards to collecting advertising fees from agents.  Additionally, the information (auto valuations) they give to the public is too innaccurate in most cases to be of value.  Newer neighborhoods with similar spec levels are easy to valuate.  Older neighborhoods with various specs, sizes, construction materials are almost impossible to value and Zillow even states that on their site in fine print.  To me, Zillow is like having a magic 8 ball and asking “what is my home worth”.  It would be great to have a complex formula that would really figure it out but in the end your home is only worth what someone is willing to pay, and that is one reason you pay for a professional Realtor. That being said, Zillow stock is rocking so what the hell do I know!

    Second, my comment on Redfin:  I appreciate the effort and money that has been put into the company.  It is a great website and I use their mobile app all the time.  They are a broker so nothing like Zillow (Although Zillow may want to buy Redfin in the future when all the agents stop paying their advertising fees).  Redfin, however, is not redefining brokerage or what I like to call “creating a blue ocean”.  They really are just trying to do brokerage for less which certainly appeals to part of the market.  For those who think that Redfin is big (they aren’t).  In fact they dont scratch the surface of the brokerage work that is being done in Seattle.  Fact:  They have sold 49 listings in the last 6 months and have represented 335 buyers (total 384).  My office by itself  has sold 223 listings in the last 6 months and represented 118 buyers (total 341-just 1 Windermere Office).  Remember Redfin has been in business almost 10 years I think!  Clearly the model is not working and its because brokerage is such a tough job overall, that nobody in their right mind would want to work for a salary or a 1.5% commission and sell homes  That doesn’t mean Redfin cannot succeed, it just means they will have to change their model from brokerage to guess what???? LEAD GENERATION for existing Realtors.  Can anyone say HOUSE VALUES? Enough said….

    So back to the Syndication issue….I personally believe that Mr. Abbott is correct on many of his points.  I do think Zillow has confused Buyers and Sellers.  I agree that much of the information is incorrect or not quantifiable and verifiable through public data and through their so called mathematic formulas.  I do not believe that having your house on Zillow increases your exposure or chance of selling.  I could go on and on…but it is getting late….comments?

    • http://twitter.com/BradAndersohn BradAndersohn

      Hi Nate – Brad from Zillow. 

      One thing I’m fortunate to witness on a daily basis is how online contacts are managed from first point of contact to closing.  Everybody has a different way of handling their CRM’s.  ie: messaging, follow-up, drip systems etc. 

      Without knowing all the details during your two year’s on Zillow, I’ll agree that it’s disappointing for sure to see only one transaction in all that time.  I can understand and appreciate how you must feel, I’d probably feel the same way.

      Here’s an agent that has Zillow producing 300 contacts/leads a month for them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2z5_yXhWyM  I know it’s a huge contrast from your numbers and experience, but felt it’s important to share.  In addition, they have a really decent client conversion ratio as well.

      We have some great free support and training now available and I’d be happy to share some of what’s working for others if you’re interested, just give me a shout.

    • darrell simon

      spot on spot on with no caveats, sheesh one of the few who makes sense, ‘specially ‘Bout RedFin 

  • Guest

    This is funny…..sounds like the newspaper industry 5 years ago….what a joke. You are the middleman, not Zillow.

  • Drrllsimon

    Again, Your talking about personal interactions, valuations that are done responsibly…sorry no way to sugar coat that for Brad… True value (your words) are where a real professional shines and it is so lacking with these cookie cutter approaches to mining data that ironickly all basically comes from the MLS anyway! 

    As a former Appraiser I tend to think “product knowledge” is seriously lacking in this field… Can an agent add value and understanding?  Do Zillow, Trulia, and RedFin with their so hip ethic really improve any of these factors categorically? (I say no).  And I aso dispute whether any of these quasi MLS syndications vis a vis Redfin are really a vision of the future of real estate. 

    The big changes in real estate involve building materials because homes have to go up faster (modular is getting better), new financial strategies and brokering rental properties (as is done in New York/San Fran) because renting is taking on the status of owning…..  
     
    Not the same old sauce paraded as new and exciting because of a few more bells and whistles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yeago Steve Yeago

    Right, because Realtors aren’t middlemen either. Get real and die out already.

  • NotAfraidOfTheFuture

    Please all Online Home Buyers, FSBO’s and T&Z, stop trying to convince yourself and the world that Realtors are the problem. Just create a site like Craigslist and take Realtors out of it completely! The technology exists, the participants exists, just do it. A place where sellers and buyers meet, engage and exchange. No middle-men! You can silently kill and change real estate forever. Again, CL did it with a monotone lame HTML page! Come on…don’t wait another minute! Start tomorrow, take the thieving agent out it….it’s within your reach. Why all the conversation?…oh yeah you need the Realtors “organized” data and efforts… you need someone to do the hard work.
    1.) Buyers (most people) will NOT call someone and say “hey I want to buy you house today, what time can I come over to work out the details, but first I want to look in your bathroom.”.
    2.) Sellers (most people) will NOT open their doors to people they have no information about and who have no accountability or procedures.
    3.) Z&T will not go out and find home sellers and say “please list your home with us”…no they must take the data from someone who has.
    So until you can and will do of these things without a “middle man”, Realtors will live on…*agents* of any kind will live on. The end of the Realtor is within your grasp…so grab it…and stop arguing with them. So stop blaming someone for your short comings and for doing the work you cannot or will not do!
    PS All those bashing of Realtors here, you do realize that Z&T sell leads to Realtors don’t you? Without them and their data, Z&T have no business!

    • EastValleyConservative

      The number one reason you use a realtor is to do it all right and LEGALLY. If you are familiar with every piece of paper in the contract and know what the repercussions are should you miss something (disclosures), how to handle disputes, etc., then go for it. I sold mine FSBO a long time ago, but also had realtors in the family who knew what was required. As for Z&T, I quit giving our company’s money to them well over two years ago. More power to those who want to go FSBO, it is an option. I do find it odd that an agent would be considered “thieving” since they work essentially for free until a property actually CLOSES and ONLY get paid if it closes. The process is lengthy, time consuming and a lot of work is involved. Many agents put in enormous hours to make these things happen and then the sale falls through. No commission. Then they start the process over.

  • Self Made

    Hey, John and Jim, tough sh!t! Zillow and the like have put power back in the hands of the consumer. Why would I pay a buying agent an additional 3% commission (thousands of $) just to open the doors for me to look at a listing when I can call the listing agent to do the same?

    Most people don’t realize that its better to negotiate the listing agent’s commission than to involve a buyer’s agent.

    You think we are supposed to feel sorry for someone that lost their job to technology. Join the club, pal!

    • Incognito

      Please bring your clueless butt to my listing without representation. I will rake you over the coals and make my seller a very happy person. I love buyers like you. Buyers like you are exactly the ones that need representation.

      • jrock20jones

        Interesting….so this is the thought of a Realtor? No wonder talking to a Realtor feels like talking to used car salesman.

        • stubbikins

          The Realtor’s job is to represent THEIR client. If I am representing a seller, why would I want the buyer to get a better deal?

          If you want to be protected, get a buyer agent and have a professional representing you.

          If you fin an agent sleazy, don’t hire them!

    • EastValleyConservative

      How was it ever taken out of the buyer’s hands? If it’s on Zillow, with few FSBO exceptions, an agent is involved. You’ve gained nothing. They buyer does not pay the commission—–the seller does. Zillow also does not qualify as technology. :) EVERY time you so much as google listings, you will end up on either an agent’s site, or one of the major syndication sites. Ever heard of IDX? It doesn’t matter what agent’s site you land on, they display listings across the board from MLS if they have IDX. I have yet to hear of an instance where you would be charged 3% to LOOK at a listing, especially since the buyer’s agent is not paid by you, again, it’s the seller.

    • stubbikins

      No one has lost a job….

      The listing agent will be happy to work with you, know why? Because they will “drop” the commission a little bit (like to 4% instead of the 3% they would get otherwise), make their seller happy, and you will pay every bit as much as you would have paid with an agent, because you have no one negotiating for you and you are working with someone representing the seller and the seller only.

      You have no one to help you with your lender, or inspections, or anything else… And the seller can get rid of a house at max price without having to fix anything.

      So sellers thank you for being an idiot.

  • Agent Zero

    Buying or selling a house without agent representation is just stupid. Why don’t you perform your own surgery or build your own furniture? Because there are people out there with expertise that can do a better job than you can. It’s foolish to think that you can handle all the negotiations, paperwork, financing, etc. better than someone who does it everyday. I don’t presume that I could do your job.

  • Joe Bloggs

    I didn’t know that about Southwest. I go directly to their website because their fairs are always lower than the best fairs on Expedia or Orbitz.

    • http://www.facebook.com/seth.schroeder Seth Schroeder

      Southwest and MLS Brokers are different….

      Southwest is the seller (owner)

      MLS Broker is the middleman (travel agent)

      Kayak is the listing service (Zillow, ect…)

  • Dexter Morgan

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  • Andi Grant

    Did some of these comments actually imply that real estate agents were going the way of travel agents?
    _____

    If a home buyer is comparing booking a $6000 trip and wearing a colorful wristband to let’s say purchasing a $400,000 home and wearing a mortgage for 30 years, then they need to think about this.

    There is someone who is giving away money (the buyer) and someone who is taking it (the seller). Who has the most to lose in that situation without representation? Is it not the buyer? It was only a few decades ago that home buyers sounded the alarm and were crying foul regarding unscrupulous sellers ripping them off that created a justified need for some form of buyer protection and representation. If buyers knew half of what What Realtors Do for Buyers, they would understand that home buying is more than a simple click of a mouse and looking at enhanced property photos.

    Using professional representation will always go back to what a home buyer or home seller values most – their investment and making the smartest and wisest informed decisions that will ultimately save or make them the most money in the long run. Would you willingly represent yourself or allow the other side’s counsel to represent you in a legal case that could cost you the same $400,000? Of course not. Why would you do it in a real estate deal where buyer representation is in most cases FREE to you.

    If buying and selling real estate was so easy, the OWNER of ForSaleByOwner website wouldn’t have needed his own real estate agent. It’s more than a notion and unfortunately people end up finding out the expensive way. To each his/her own.

    • http://www.facebook.com/seth.schroeder Seth Schroeder

      Could he not need a agent to list on MLS to get the word out even more. I must say you are pretty high on yourself thinking you are riding out into the world to protect us poor stupid buyers.

      Also I LOVE the fact that you said FREE, wait FREE? So that means you don’t take any money from anyone right? Or did you take a % of the total home cost or a fee from the sellers? Oh wait if the seller has to pay you $2000 that means there is $2000 less the seller is willing to part with to sell the house. Free would mean you lend your “expertise” and get NOTHING in return from ANYONE.

      • EastValleyConservative

        The buyer does not pay the buyer’s agent commission–that is paid for by the seller. Not the buyer. Therefore, you as a buyer are paying for the home to the seller, with nothing owed to the agent by you.

      • stubbikins

        A Realtor does not stop you from looking any time you want, however, Realtors give you more current and immediate listings, it takes a day or two for a house to show up on Zillow and Trulia, many are already under contract by then.

        A Realtor will know or be able to find upcoming listing in the area, so you can be the first there instead of continually missing them.

        A Realtor will know why a listing has been sitting for months with no sale.

        But go ahead and waste your time looking at houses that are already sold..

    • http://archive.org/details/antifederalist_0707_librivox The Federal Farmer

      I’ve bought and sold many houses in my life and wouldn’t DREAM of doing it without a buyers or a sellers agent!

  • http://www.kstrealty.com/ Telmo Bermeo

    I’m not oppose to Trulia or Zillow, however, I too have spent a good bit of time researching their listings and have come up with the conclusion that their data is way out of date. Unless they get their act together and clean their data, I will always tell my clients to stay away from any of those sites including realtor.com. They will tell you that they update their information daily and they probably do, what they don’t tell you is that they don’t remove old information from their sites and that is what it makes their site inaccurate.

    I run a Real estate website in the Atlanta metro area http://www.kstrealty.com Our IDX provider does update the information hourly and to make sure I don’t display old listings, I only display properties with an active status, any property that goes under contract is no longer displayed on our website.

    The only other problem that exists and I don’t have control over it is; Agents. If a homes goes under contract and the listing agents does not change the status in their MLS, that listing will continue to display on my website as well as on all other member’s websites. Our local MLS makes it a good effort to have the database clean, however, agents don’t always follow the MLS rules.

  • Aunt Ant

    Where do sites like Zillo, Trulia et al. get their information? My house is listed on all as having 2 bedrooms when it has 3 rooms with closets. Isn’t that the description of a bedroom?

    • rosenseattle

      Hi Aunt Ant,
      Rachel from Zillow here.
      In general, we get property information from public records, and user submitted content.
      We allow owners to correct home information if needed. Here is a link explaining how to do this: http://www.zillow.com/help/edit-your-home-details/

      For FAQ’s can be found here: http://www.zillow.com/help/

      • SINGLECATHOLIC123

        Not true. Zillow and Trulia take (without paying for it) data from the MLS. (multiple Listing Service) I do have a relative who is a real estate agent and people do not understand how hard an agent works. Selling a 1 bedroom Condominium and waiting weeks maybe months to get another listing. Its all commission and only a few real estate agents are wealthy. An agent has to do a lot of work to obtain a listing, then there is a tremendous amount of follow up, paper work, coordination with inspections.. on and on. The agent is responsible for describing the property, in charge of photographing inside and out of the property (all his expenses). The agent pays expensive E&O insurance, advertising. What is wrong here is sites like Trulia, zillow, realtor.com take all that information WITHOUT PAYING THE REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON for his photo rights, marketing etc. All listings are inputted into the MLS multiple listing service. The real estate agent pays for the MLS and it is NOT CHEAP. Trulia and zillow TAKE (do not pay) the real estate agents work, photos and blast it all over the internet and these sites do not have strict data integrity rules that the MLS has and also zillow and trulia are not held accountable for errors where as agents who upload any bad data on the MLS are accountable. So you people on here who bad mouth real estate agents and brokers for being upset with syndication sights are ignorant and you know nothing about real estate. Why should the agent do all this work and these multi billion dollar web sites take his work free of charge??? Something needs to be done in the courts about this because its WRONG. Actors and actresses on TV now have to be paid for every single rerun on TV no matter how old or how short the segment. Even photos of any kind cannot be shared so why do you think its ok for a hard working Real estate agent to have his work taken with on compensation? I hope one of these days this goes to the US supreme court. For your information, The national association of Realtors gave these syndication sites approval to take this information from the MLS. This can also be reversed. Think of this as a courtesy because thats what it is. Think before you speak on subjects you know nothing about.

        • Brad Andersohn

          Hi SingleCatholic123 – Brad from Zillow here. I just wanted to say I agree with your comment about agents working really hard to get listings and all the work that goes into marketing a home, however that’s only half of the equation.

          The ultimate goal is obviously to get homes sold.

          Zillow isn’t ONLY about listings, we are also there to help the home buyer find those listed/available homes. In addition, having access to more than 110,000,000 million homes on the site allows and creates an equal amount of opportunities for consumers to find and work with the agent(s) that best meet their needs.

          What a great way to showcase the hard work and expertise of the Agent you mention. Anyone can claim their home on Zillow and upload photos of their home but for those trying to sell the home, Zillow is a great resource for providing exposure to that home. Also, exposure to the agent and their services is equally important in my opinion because both work together to help get homes sold.

          There is so much more that Zillow is doing today and providing for agents, brokers, lenders, consumers and the industry etc. Having a profile and presence on Zillow is free for agents, and accessing the site is Free for consumers. I think it’s important to recognize the many value-added services that both industry pros and consumers are gaining from maximizing ALL the products and variety of tools now available on Zillow.

          • SINGLECATHOLIC123

            Hello Brad Andersohn
            from zillow,
            You claim Zillow gives access to 110,000,000 homes on their site but the problem is that the data is not very accurate and the inventory is often extremely over inflated with properties listed as available but in actuality already sold and off the market. A consumer is better off going to a Real Estate Agent’s web site or giving him/her a call to get first hand accurate information. A consumers best bet is to contact an agent directly. Real Estate Agents are held accountable for the data and its integrity which they input into the MLS but when you just take the agents intellectual property from them and change it and reword it and as you state Allow anybody to go on line and change that data nobody holds the billion dollar web sites like Zillow or Trulia accountable for bad data. This seems unethical. Zillow also often posts home values (zestimates) incorrectly and shows a home owners property valued at much less than it is really worth. Why does Zillow think devaluing somebody’s home is helping a homeowner?? I’m sure you agree there is big problem with data integrity with sites such as Zillow and Trulia and you yourself state that anybody can go online and state this is their home and add photos and make changes to the information you took from the agents integrity data from their MLS.
            Regarding your comment on Zillow doing so much for agents and displaying their hard work makes no sense because what you are really doing is taking their work without compensating them and using it to bring traffic onto your website and then allow the Public to come in and make any changes they wish. As far as your claim that the website is free and great for consumers all I can say is (consumer beware) and regarding your remark about how you offer free profiles for agents, that is 10% true and 90% false. Zillow and Trulia offer a very small free exposure to a real estate agent and they have a sales team that contacts agents (especially new ones) and gives them crafty sales ptiches on purchasing programs with their credit card which are long term contracts and very expensive and the programs rarely help the agent obtain business unless he/she is a wealthy agent and can afford the high end Zillow programs. So basically you use the agents and on top of that lure them into expensive contracts which don’t pay off. If you really agree that real estate agents work hard before you take their intellectual property free of charge then why does zillow charge them such enormous fees for these programs. Should’nt you be giving it to them for free since you took from them for free? As far as consumers getting free information from Zillow (and Trulia) they are better served going to an agent and getting FREE and ACCURATE information. I hope new laws are implemented to level the playing field. As far as im concerned these billion dollar online real estate sites are hurting the little guys and at the same time giving bad information to the general public. Shame on them!

          • Brad Andersohn

            Single Catholic123 – I really can’t speak for other companies you mention but I do know they also have folks working there that help agents as well. I can only speak for Zillow and for what we are doing to try and help agents and consumers connect. With all due respect, I’m not here to prove you wrong or have a debate, I’m just trying to provide some facts and help anyone who is wanting or needing it. Trying to convince you that I/we are on your side seems like it might only add fuel to the fire. And while we may not be perfect, it certainly won’t distract us from striving to keep improving every product, tool and service. Thanks for taking the time respond. Best, Brad :)

          • SINGLECATHOLIC123

            Good luck with all you do.

          • Dis En Franchised

            Hi brad from zillow -pissed off homeowner here. fuck you and your company

      • Dis En Franchised

        Hi rachel from zillow – fuck you and your company. How dare you devalue my home with your meaningless zestimate. I should sue you for libel

  • http://www.skill-guru.com Skill-Guru

    He still lives in stone age.

  • genie

    The hey-day of the real estate agent is over. Technology has leveled the playing field for the little guy – the actual homeowner or home seeker. Real estate agents are sales people plain and simple and they are mad that their careers are in jeopardy. Doing research online to find comps is EASY and there is no longer any reason to be part of the racket of paying 6% commission, thousands of dollars, to do a job that most of us can do on our own. Yes, realtors will defend themselves to the end to eek out their commission and protest my words, saying how valuable they are. The truth is THEY are the middle man! Be a wise consumer, do your own research and represent yourself (with legal counsel if necessary). Little guy, take back your right to sell and buy your own home! The end of the real estate agent is coming. My husband and I have saved multiple thousands of dollars selling our own home and representing ourselves in the home buying process. Don’t be fooled by the real estate selling machine.

  • SINGLECATHOLIC123

    More Brokers need to speak out like Jim Abbott. TRULIA AND ZILLOW take (without paying for it) data from the
    MLS. (multiple Listing Service) I do have a relative who is a real
    estate agent and people do not understand how hard an agent works.
    Selling a 1 bedroom Condominium and waiting weeks maybe months to get
    another listing. Its all commission (Pay for your own expenses including health insurance) and only a few real estate agents
    are wealthy. An agent has to do a lot of work to obtain a listing, then
    there is a tremendous amount of follow up, paper work, coordination
    with inspections.. on and on. its not an easy job people. The agent is responsible for describing
    the property, in charge of photographing inside and out of the property
    (all his expenses). The agent pays expensive E&O insurance,
    advertising. What is wrong here is sites like Trulia, zillow,
    realtordotcom take all that information WITHOUT PAYING THE REAL ESTATE
    SALESPERSON for his photo rights, marketing etc. All listings are input
    into the MLS multiple listing service. The real estate agent pays for
    the MLS and it is EXPENSIVE . Trulia and zillow TAKE (do not pay) the
    real estate agents work, photos and blast it all over the internet and
    these sites do not have strict data integrity rules that the MLS has and
    also zillow and trulia are not held accountable for errors where as
    agents who upload any bad data on the MLS are accountable. these 3rd
    party sites can publish bad data and its ok… So you people on here who
    bad mouth real estate agents and brokers for being upset with
    syndication sights know nothing about real estate. Why should the agent
    do all this work and these multi billion dollar web sites take his work
    free of charge??? Something needs to be done in the courts about this
    because its WRONG. Actors and actresses on TV now have to be paid for
    every single rerun on TV no matter how old or how short the segment.
    Even photos of any kind cannot be shared so why do you think its ok for a
    hard working Real estate agent to have his/her work taken with on
    compensation? So they make a few thousand dollars and then go without a
    check for 2, 3 or 4 months and spend their own money on the work and its
    taken from them. I hope one of these days this goes to the US supreme
    court. For your information, The national association of Realtors gave
    these 3rd party sites approval to take this information from the MLS.
    This can also be reversed. You should send thank you letters to the
    real estate agents for this instead your defending 3rd party sites with less accurate data.
    Think of this as a courtesy because thats what it is. Think before you
    speak on subjects you know nothing about.

    • stubbikins

      You do realize that having our listing reach more people is a GOOD thing, don’t you? That it makes us more money?

  • Darrell Allen Caraway

    BS

  • Darrell Allen Caraway

    When I sell or buy a house I do it myself. Eliminate the Realtor. After all, they have been corrupting raping and pillaging the village so long we nearly forgot they are weasels and maggots blood sucking leaches and filthy mold in the system. You guys ruined a lot of stuff. Liars.

    • stubbikins

      Good, you make it easy for the realtor on the other side of the transaction to get a better deal at your expense…

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  • Bryan J. Maloney

    I know a way that brokers can “innovate”. Allow ME as a person to download search results as spreadsheets that have the criteria I want. That way *I* can evaluate hundreds of potential properties quickly and mathematically instead of having to wade through tripe like “adorable” and “cute” in their silly little listings.

  • Blind RedHat

    So this real estate guy claims the buyer is not being “remotely well served by listing syndicators”. Translation: Zillow is costing him income, since the information is being made available to the public instead of shielded from them by guys like this. He hates Zillow because he’s making low seven figures instead of high seven figures. Boo fucking hoo. Innovate or die, grandpa.

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  • Bill Powell

    Social is the best thing that could have happened to real estate. This guy is ridiculous.

  • bourneblogger

    Ef these listing whorrrs! Especially Zillow. How dare they use military vets returning home to their family as a means of marketing!!

  • Dis En Franchised

    fuck zillow

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    They act as middlemen and post our valuable listing data alongside the
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    They act as middlemen and post our valuable listing data alongside the
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  • Bill

    For most buyers and sellers Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia provide an easy way to locate an agent – this is why these sites are able to capitalize on agent advertising.

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