Zillow Acquires Trulia: Wake Up Brokers! They’re Getting Rich At Your Expense

If you haven’t heard about listing syndicator site Zillow acquiring competitor site Trulia for $3.5 Billion in stock, I feel for you…especially if you’re in real estate. Since this announcement, I’ve received a couple emails, seen a few comments, read a few newsletters, and thought I’d try to spark a dialogue here on the site.

For what it’s worth, I’m definitely not thrilled about these two companies continually capitalizing off of our data. I certainly feel they would be nothing without the brokerage community, and firmly believe real estate brokers and agents got it all wrong (especially bowing down and “claiming” our own listings on these sites…for a fee!), but who am I to judge. I want to hear what you have to say. To start the conversation, have a look at what a reader said recently in a past post we had done about how worthless Zestimates are: “Zillow Zetimates Rubbing You Wrong Too? Vent”:

Why hasn’t anyone considered starting an “Agent Owned” National CMLS Internet advertising company by which we all become coop owners and share in the ad revenues and use the service at moderately low cost. We could put a stop to all the internet companies using OUR LISTINGS to make BILLIONS and use those revenues as retirement supplements to all the coop members of the National CMLS internet company. I am sick and tired of Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and other sites using our listings to milk the real estate agents for money that belongs to us. These are our listings not theirs. If anyone should make money on our listings it should be us. We can put a stop to this and no longer allow these sites to use our listings. In the very least, they should be paying us for our listings. Wake up Real Estate Agents………….

Then, have a look at what a local brokerage had to say in their newsletter about making sure their listings are accurate on these sites (ever think about just killing the feed?):

This is big news in the real estate community. We know these sites are very popular with the public, and that’s why for years [brokerage] has fed its listings to both sites. This has been done to try to minimize the kind of factual errors often found on these sites. Despite their popularity, Zillow and Trulia are not getting their content from our local MLS, and so listing details can be wrong. Dramatically wrong at times.

As a matter of fact, Zillow itself gives the accuracy of its popular “Zestimates” only two out of four stars in San Francisco, admitting that these estimates have a median error of nearly 12% – that’s a big number. Still these sites are popular, and while [brokerage] believes it has enhanced the user property search experience on its own website, the company will continue to keep an eye on Zillow and Trulia, and leverage these platforms as much as possible.

Finally, have a look at this email I received on the matter:

Realtors are guilty for not keeping up with the times and being completely opposed and scared of technology, as we know well. PocketListings.net being the ultimate example. I still don’t understand how hard it was to make anyone understand the concept of creating their [Realtors'] own listing network that they control. Doing anything to really help agents is ultimately a dead end because they are all stupid – few exceptions like you :) The successful businesses don’t give a shit about agents. Zillow, Trulia…as you stated, mining all the data agents worked hard to create. Redfin, basically wants to cut the agent out of the equation. The solution is simple: kill the feeds and those companies perish, but the industry never will. It’s run by idiots.

Share your thoughts in the comments below…(Remember, you can be anonymous if you choose).

3 thoughts on “Zillow Acquires Trulia: Wake Up Brokers! They’re Getting Rich At Your Expense”

  1. I believe that any frustration by agents is misguided. “Kill the feeds…” and “Why hasn’t anyone considered starting an “Agent Owned” National CMLS Internet advertising company…” only serve to highlight that the agents are concerned about themselves, not their customers.

    Who wins without the agents? Um, the customers!

    The agents, specifically buying agents, will be less and less needed — that’s the point. What are buying agents bringing to the able? Knowledge of fair price and/or the buying process? Maybe, but that can be ascertained elsewhere. I’m sure most anyone that has bought a place can point a number of areas their agent was selfish, less than stellar, or just not worth the price that was ultimately paid for their services.

    For now, I’ll leave it at that. After the new generation gets used to not using buying agents, the selling agents world will crumble too.

    All in all, I’m not advocating against agents. I’m just saying that given the technology becoming more and more available as well the outrageous cost associated with an agent, it’s not a business I would get into. Unless, of course, I was building a site to circumvent the current, outdated, industry.

  2. A Consumers View

    The consolidation of online RE data for the consumer is a good thing. It initially brought a level of transparency to the market that was held closely by the RE industry from the consumer. It now will make more data available to consumers who can use the data as part of their buying/selling process along with their agent.

    The Brokers and Agents comments regarding data ownership and costs associated with sites like Zillow are concerning: the RE community had the opportunity to begin an open platform for consumers to access but chose to keep the data difficult to access. The listings belong to your clients as does the data that goes along with it. The buyer is using digital as they did print previously to access real estate as such the channel costs of generating your commission has shifted accordingly. So, I guess I am not sure why the indignation around the ownership of the data and the costs associated with using sites like Zillow.

    Ask yourself, why do you think sites like Zillow became popular an begin to think of how you can work with the current media and your clients current and future ways of selling/buying.

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