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Zillow Realty, and a Couple Other Recent Industry Stories

There have been a number of issues going on in the industry recently, and some of them haven’t been covered here on Geek Estate — so thought I’d do a quick recap:

1. Rumors that Zillow will become a Brokerage (AGBeat story)

Zillow Realty has a nice ring to it, and they’d probably even sign up a few agents if they flipped the switch. But honestly? Do you really think a brokerage is Zillow’s grand plan? They make their money selling technology and marketing services to agents and brokers — and yet they’d become a brokerage and essentially compete with every single advertiser they have until those agents/brokers either go out of business or join “Zillow Realty”? That doesn’t sound like a very good way to keep the revenue rolling in. They are a public company now – if they were going to become a broker, it would have happened long ago. Can we please put this rumor to rest already? Please?

2. Zillow launches Agent Hub (Including a CRM) (Press Release)

This was a no brainer for Zillow in an effort to become a more central part of agents daily lives. Brokers worried about being disintermediated by this sort of strategic move by Zillow? Honestly, quit your moaning and figure out a way to build your business. If the industry spent half as much time doing as they do complaining, you’d be in a much better spot. The people that are going to succeed in this industry are the ones that keep their heads down and execute regardless of what others are doing. I hope Zillow takes a few hints from Highrise.

Though the CRM problem didn’t get solved in 2011, I’ve got my fingers crossed 2012 is the year.

3. Trulia Picks JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank to Manage their IPO (Business Week article)

I won’t comment other than to say I’ll be closely watching their IPO as it approaches.

4. The Continued Growth of Mobile (1000watt article by Joel Burslem)

I agree, to a degree. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the world is shifting to a more mobile world. I really do. But I caution you this — don’t half ass your mobile efforts just because everyone says mobile is where it’s at. Mobile is the same as any other investment you make both in business and life. Those that half ass things often spread themselves too thin and succeed at nothing. Jack of all trades, master of none. Unless you can build a better app than Zillow or a completely integrated app with your clients user account (and that gets them to digital docs, saved searches, showings, etc)? Why are you bothering? Don’t you think consumers are going to use the best app out there? Do you truly realize the development and dollar investment it takes to build an app at that level? Sure, the VERY large brokerages should be investing in mobile. But agents? Not so much in my opinion.

Whether you are an agent or broker — before you invest in mobile, do your homework. What percentage of YOUR traffic is coming from mobile devices? And which devices make up the majority of that traffic? If it’s the iPad (which I’m guessing it is), and your site is on WordPress, chances are good your site works just fine as is without any added work (unless you have a crap IDX provider).

Any other stories I’ve missed recently?

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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  • Don Reedy

    Well, it’s clear that being “out of country” hasn’t hurt your reasoning powers.  My favorite part of this was the admonishment to “keep your head down and execute no matter what others are doing.”

    As for Zillow and it’s plans, I’m on the side of the equation that sees them as a vendor.  End of story.  What they sell.  How they sell.  To whom they sell.  Those are interesting aspects of a vendor with cash who can and will impact the RE industry.  But as for the broker rumor……dude you are so right on.

  • Zillow as brokerage isn’t a rumor, it’s a fact.  Zillow is a brokerage in Texas and that may be why the story continues to get legs.  There may be a legal reason for it but to deny that Zillow is a brokerage doesn’t help the cause.

    If you or someone from Zillow wants to address Zillow’s reason for having a brokerage that may clear the air once and for all.

    Link to Zillow’s TREC Licensee Detail Page: 

    • See this statement from several years ago on Zillow Blog –

  • Totally agreed, Zillow won’t go broker.  There is a lot less liability and far fewer “feet on the ground” necessary to continue building a streamlined vendor sales approach as opposed to licensed agents.

    The point about mobile is a good, one, though it might be a bit heavy handed.  I agree that agents shouldn’t focus too much on mobile if they don’t have a good mobile product, but needing a “better” app than Zillow isn’t really necessary.  An agent with a fairly good app who can differentiate by marketing their MLS database of homes is going to get a more loyal mobile following.  New features are nice, but users will change apps after driving by enough expired listings from a syndicated database.

    You’re absolutely right on the ipad, though, most users can navigate a decent traditional web site on a tablet.  On a phone, not so much, but mobile is still less than 30% of the market.  It’s growing, but that stat should affect how much time/effort you spend on mobile.

  • Great post @drewmeyers:disqus   

    Especially liked the ”
    Honestly, quit your moaning and figure out a way to build your business. If the industry spent half as much time doing as they do complaining, you’d be in a much better spot. The people that are going to succeed in this industry are the ones that keep their heads down and execute regardless of what others are doing” part.

    Truer words have never been spoken… roll up your sleeves and get to work.

    Has anyone tried Zillow’s CRM BTW?  I’d be curious to hear an opinion by someone that’s tried it.

    • I’d be curious too. Anyone?

      I think anyone with an agent account can see it…but I don’t have one. Bueller?

  • Drew is wrong about mobile. Just kidding, he is right. We are not ready, nor do we really need fully integrated mobile solutions yet. Are you out there with people hitting the streets? They are not loyal to any technology, they love Redfin, they love Zillow, they love my DSsearch agent app. Sure, I hope someone is out there working on this, but I am not obsessing over it. Mobile overall is great and you should be conscious of it, but by no means do you need to have a fully integrated mobile platform, cms, etc for your real estate company. 

    Drew and I had a few email exchanges over this and I figured out that I was considering this way more than I needed to. Its on a list, but not near the top whatsoever. Clients still are relying on their real estate agent to bring them the best properties that meet their needs. NO computer, mobile device, algorithm can do this. If you think it can – than you have never spent any time with real people looking to solve real housing needs.

  • Alin Zdroba

    Some food for thought questions:
    1. What “tools” does Zillow offer to real estate agents? What revenue per agent does that bring to zillow?
    2. What “tools” does a big brokerage (say KW) offer to its agents? What revenue per agent does that bring to KW?

    Could we say zillow is becoming a real estate brokerage, without actually being one from a legal standpoint (no need for that anyways)?

    If anyone has real numbers to answer the questions above (or educated guesstimates) that would be interesting to see.

  • Very insightful post there. Thanks

  • Thanks for the post!

  •  Great information about mobile services of real estate company. Thanks for the idea Drew! Good luck!

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