What is wrong with Zillow and many other online real estate marketing solutions? There are many things wrong with them. In this article, we will highlight the user and agent frustrations when it comes to real estate marketing online.
I spent 8 years as a Mortgage Lender and I was right in the center of the Zillow vortex myself. I had agents asking me to co-op with them on Zillow because they felt that it was the best source for leads. I actually gave in to it and spent money in order to get leads. Even then, I always thought it was crazy to spend money with a company that was charging agents for leads on their very own listings.
Zillow, as well as Trulia and Realtor.com, are one of the most popular real estate marketing solutions online. They have become the Google of Real Estate. Zillow alone lists information about millions of homes for sale and rent across the United States and Canada. Users can search for a home in any area using different categories such as prices, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, type of home, and other amenities. It’s an awesome tool for consumers but an absolute headache and nightmare for brokers and agents.
These websites are built to be easy to use and navigate however the process ends up being longer and more strenuous than calling a real agent or brokerage. Most of these real estate websites are traps for weak leads all for the purpose of making revenue for the necessary “Evil”. Many Real Estate agents fall for these services and with so many options of services to pay for from zip codes to live transfers, they make it seem like it is the easiest and cheapest way to get leads pouring in.
One big problem is “The Zestimate”. Both the buyers and the sellers LOVE Zestimate. The Zestimate works off an algorithm that uses the surrounding area to determine a property’s value but doesn’t account for the condition of the surrounding area or the subject property that is getting valued. This inaccuracy leads to misinterpretation of the actual properties being sold all because of Zillow’s slothful algorithm and lack of consumer support.
Zillow is just an algorithm that does not know anything else aside from the data being fed to it. A true real estate agent and a broker will know their neighborhood and properties like the back of their hand. These agents and brokers will guide you through every step of the way until you get the quality home you want and deserve.
Buyers love Zillow and there is no shortage of people going to their site daily. People love the accessibility, they love the pre-foreclosures, they love easy to search, and they love “the Zestimate”. But there is another way people can view homes in their community and that way is to build your brand. Anybody can be their own brand you just have to be involved with your community online and offline. This way buyers and sellers can come straight to you and have a more human experience when making a life-changing decision such as buying the home of their dreams.
The Online Beast is constantly fed by agents and lenders that allow them to grow. Some the same people that gripe about Zillow turn right around and pay their next bill to them. Some look at it as a necessary evil for their online presence. I believe a lot of that thinking is because they do not trust in their own efforts to grow a brand or to set up a system of their own to attract clients.
If Zillow continues to grow, you will eventually see them eliminate some agents in the industry. I honestly believe that it will cause teams to continue to grow in order to have the revenue to continue their lead cycle as they become more and more dependent on the outside sources that they depend on. After all, Zillow has the database and the system.
My final thoughts. What if Zillow goes away tomorrow, what would you do then?