Saturday, October 27, 2007

Zillow.com & Trulia.com Sucks - Not Realtor Friendly

As Realtors, we know the #1 place to list a home is in our own MLS system. This system integrates with Realtor.com and our IDX systems which allows the home to be listed on agent sites. Statistics prove that Realtor.com is the #1 real estate site online.

Thinking back over the years before Zillow and Trulia, lead generating sites like homegain.com and housevalues.com was all the rage. Now that those companies are dying- out and consumers are tired of selling themselves to the highest bidder, start-ups like Zillow and Trulia became the new buzz.

The unique aspect of Trulia and Zillow is that they know how to give people the information they want unlike Realtor.com. Keep in mind when I say information, I don't mean property listings but everything else Realtor.com doesn't do. Though Zillow.com Zestimates is a disgrace and should not be used to justify anything, I can understand the ferocious appetite for the consumer to gain knowledge about their neighborhood. I mean...some of the information on their sites are useful, but should never be relied upon for accuracy. Only local professionals who are familiar with the area should be consulted upon for a good idea on what the home will sell for.

Lately, I've been spending some time answering questions on Trulia's "Trulia Voices." Thought I think it's great to be able to communicate with other agents and sellers/buyers, I'm skeptical if their system will ever provide any realistic financial incentive by participating. Also, what recourse does a person have for getting inaccurate information from people who are not familiar with their local city/county/state laws.

What I do believe is Zillow and Trulia are in a sense wanting to be what Realtor.com is and has been, but better. They know they have to create a better and more interactive system in order to gain the trust and respect of agents and buyers/sellers. But without the participation of every MLS in the country, I doubt they will make it far. They will be just another information site and will eventually be integrated with a major site like MSN or Yahoo.

So their objective continues to entice agents to input listings and reap the benefits of free business. What agents don't realize is that if they continue to do so, they are actually chipping away at the foundation of the Realtor and MLS system.

Take a minute and think about it... If all the MLS's automatically imputed their listings to sites like Trulia and Zillow, what do you suppose is going to happen to Realtor.com? Well, I can bet people are going to visit Trulia and Zillow because the people there seem to be a lot more creative than the people at Realtor.com. But without the checks-and-balances we have with our MLS and Realtor.com, I predict home-buyers and seller will suffer financial harm.

I believe Trulia and Zillow should stay what they really are..a data aggregating site which displays neighborhood statistics. I also think Zillow should discontinue their Zestimate as other companies have integrated their useless system and providing incorrect information which can cause a financial loss to people who are unaware of how they calculate market value.

I also believe any MLS which integrated themselves with these so called Realtor friendly sites should be ashamed of themselves and held accountable financially for anyone who has a financial loss because of the information displayed on their sites.

If your selling your home, there are many things your agent can do to get your home more attention.

1. Add as many professionally taken pictures into the MLS sytem which will also be shown on Realtor.com and agent websites(IDX).

2. Add a virtual tour which will also be integrated with Realtor.com and agent websites.

3. Build a single site for the property and include that URL in all advertising.

4. Promote the home on craigslist.com, backweb.com, Ebay's Kajiji.com, Livedeal.com, Oodle.com, MSN Live Expo, Google Base, and Yahoo Classifieds.

Sellers can also help sell their homes faster by pricing aggressively and also making the property available with a lockbox. If your home is not in the MLS, call me or click the "Live Chat" button below and let me show you how I can generate more buyers for your home than any other agent in the San Fernando Valley.

Sincerely,

Richard Johnston, RE/MAX OTB Estates
818-730-4128

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