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IDX Companies Beware (with a Hint from Zillow Group)

[Update: I totally spaced and forgot Market Leader bought Diverse Solutions. My bad.]

I visited Zillow Group’s investor relations page because I wanted to listen in on yesterday’s earnings call (you can see results of Q3 here).

[text in the next few paragraphs below is irrelevant given Diverse is owned by Market Leader]

As I was scrolling down the page, I noticed a specific company missing from their “Business Brands” section.

Bridge Interactive, dotloop, and Mortech.

The company missing?

None other than Zillow’s IDX company, Diverse Solutions.

There has to be a reason the brand is no longer being given any investor love. Multi billion dollar companies don’t decide to ax a logo on their investor relations website “on a whim” to whittle four companies to three. It was removed because it’s not a priority/focus for Zillow Group anymore (someone is free to correct me in the comments if that’s not the case).

If I were an IDX company, Zillow Group’s omission/removal of Diverse Solutions would cause me to think a bit about the future of IDX.

[text below becomes relevant again]

IDX’s demise isn’t a new topic. I published an argument for NOT using IDX back in 2013. I also wrote about what would happen if IDX becomes irrelevant earlier this year.

The big reason for worry: at Zillow’s recent Premier Agent Forum in Las Vegas, major updates to Premier Agent were announced. “My Agent“. Starting next year, agents can invite buyers to Zillow’s app and if they accept, that agent becomes the consumers advertised buyer’s agent in the app going forward. Leads generated by Zillow will also only see their buyers agent after they are converted. From an agent perspective — this alleviates the concern of losing potential clients to another agent during their search. Prior to this announcement, agents would “convert” a Zillow lead — then move the conversation into their MLS system, RealScout, Cloudstreams, IDX, mailchimp, text, or their inbox. Now, Zillow is aiming to enable that follow up conversation to happen directly on Zillow/Trulia (which the buyer is using either way).

It seems clear IDX products became a heck of a lot less valuable due to Zillow’s My Agent announcement since their primary purpose is to enable buyers to search listings while seeing ONLY one agent (clients searching without being advertised to by other agents). Its secondary purpose is to attract new buyers as a lead generation tool — but acquiring those customers is too costly for the majority (search is a lost battle).

Does that spell checkmate for IDX?

PS: If someone wants to write a guest post with the case FOR IDX going in 2018, send me an email.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • Drew Laughlin

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the past few months. Being a broker and company owner I want to generate leads, but is it a waste to build a website and just pay for PPC? Is the future really Zillow and similar websites? Or does it make sense for brokers of a certain size to actually try and compete? I think the majority of brokers (and agents for that matter) have no clue how to complete (not that I know anything different from the vast majority) but I think there ARE some reasons to invest in IDX, you just need to be prepared to fund that decision.

    • Having and IDX site and driving traffic via PPC is a viable model, certainly. I don’t think the boomtown’s of the world are going away. They make their money on PPC. Who, and how many, agents/brokers can pay the “tax” needed to acquire customers in 2018? Is IDX/PPC/SEM or Zillow/Trulia a better & cheaper option? I’d love to be able to compare the ROI of those two approaches. If there’s anyone willing to share data, shoot me an email.

    • Mike Price

      You’re absolutely right Drew L. I think too many RE Pros overthink their strategies with regard to IDX and lead generation and end up giving up on the effort. Zillow is just creating a way to grab the low hanging fruit of the agents that just handle a few transactions a year. At the end of the day, investing the right amount of $$ and time to develop an effective IDX marketing platform will always be preferable to putting all of your eggs into a huge 3rd party portal dashboard. No matter where in the transaction stage a prospect is, they primarily want 3 things.
      1. Market Stats regard their home’s value and the surrounding area.
      2. Excellent Lifestyle content, they want to know about the area from the RE Pro’s perspective, in this case, the content should be built in-house and remains the IP of the agent, there are so many ways to do this without a huge $$ outlay, the big investment is the requirement of time to learn what REAL content marketing is and how to segment kick ass hyper local content, not lame regurgitation of worthless chamber of commerce brochures.
      3. A complete IDX feed that is structured in a manner that allows the prospect to find what they are looking for in the fewest amount of clicks and presented so well, they wouldn’t think of using the 5 or 6 sites they have been through before finding it.

      So..Drew M my very good friend (that I owe a return phone call to, I’m sorry, been really busy) When it comes your challenge…..I;m your Huckleberry. 🙂

      Mike

      My Bias Disclaimer, I have been one of Drew’s partners in crime in GeekEstate for years going all the way back to beginning and I am excited to see things going to the next level with it. I am also a proud “employee owner” at FBS Data, the creators of Flexmls and a lineup of awesome IDX solutions. I am a trainer that helps RE pros in all f the Flexmls markets crush it by making good IDX decisions.

      • I still think IDX has a place, just not for the masses / newbies (which is most of the industry). Boutique brokerages, teams, etc can and will still invest in buyer search tools and lead gen… it’s just getting more and more expensive by the day as Zillow sucks all the consumer oxygen out of the room.

        Look forward to a post from you on the topic of bull case on IDX 🙂

  • Jim the Realtor

    I need IDX for one reason – to send property links to my buyers and sellers that aren’t polluted with advertising from other agents.

    • If that’s the case – then traditional IDX as we know it is dead. RealScout is going to take that market, imho.

  • Bryson

    Drew-
    Zillow sold Diverse Solutions to Market Leader last year. Since then Market Leader was acquired by Constellation. That would explain the lack of logo.

    • Yup, that’s been included in this post now as an update. I spaced on that when writing. That said, the logic still stands. If Zillow thought IDX was the future, they would have kept DS in their portfolio.

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