Huge Disadvantage When Marketing Properties As 'Do Not Display Address'

Services for Real Estate Pros with Zillow

The two big reasons I've heard agents market properties this way is 1) a marketing tactic to generate more calls and 2) at a seller's request for privacy or fear of theft.  There is now data to support that you will actually get more contacts if you do show the address.  Hopefully this data will fuel the seller's desire to get the home sold and overcome their security fears.  

It was found that properties which DO display receive 6 TIMES the page views that properties that hid the address.  Further, properties with the address displayed also recieved 6 TIMES the inquires. 

Why is this?  3 main reasons:

1) Map search - Today almost every real estate site has some kind of map search, as well as a list search.  On Zillow, if we are told not to display the address (NDA), it will appear as such in the search results - but we can't display it at all on a map (essentially giving up the location).  Map search is a VERY common and comfortable way for people to search.  The map drives many page views into a particular property, and NDA properties miss out on this exposure.

2) Mobile search - Many mobile applications have GPS enabled search to answer the question "what is for sale around where I am right now".  Without being able to map properties, again it would reveal the location, NDA properties are missing out on the huge opportunity of mobile exposure.  This one will continue to grow in importance.

3) Search Engines - We all know that search engines are important website visitors that can't be ingored.  There is huge opportunities for specific addresses to be found in search results, and this likelihood of this grows as people become more specific in their searches - even searching for actual addresses.  Again, if the address isn't displayed, Google can't see it, and can't serve it. 

All three of these significantly contribute to the amount of traffic a listing will receive if the address is displayed verses if it is not.  The exposure loss can be huge.  And with less page views, obviously comes less inquires. 

In pulling the numbers, one thing that did surprise me was that the percentage of times someone did send an inquiry was actually the same if an address was displayed verses if it was not.  So this contradicts the idea that hiding the address generates more responses.  My guess is that the people who do reach out to find out where the property is located must counteract those who are annoyed by the lack of data or discount the property altogether because the location is hidden. 


* I pulled these numbers from Zillow, as it is a database towhich I easily have access.  But I would believe that the numbers are relatively comparable to other websites on which your listings are appearing. 


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Re-Blogged 2 times:

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  1. Spencer Rascoff 05/05/2010 12:13 PM
  2. Daniel Guest 05/06/2010 03:59 AM
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Christianne O'Malley
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates - Reno, NV
Exceptional Service - Delivering Results in Reno!

Sara - I simply cannot believe that a seller believes that by hiding an address it will benefit them. Perhaps that is an agent thing to make the phone ring? From a theft perspective, these are probably the same sellers who require appointments where the listing agent is present - never a good idea in my book. This is one of those internal tests we use to gauge seller motivation. Do they want to SHOW and SELL? Or so they want to SIT? <--- A great David Knox-ism...

May 06, 2010 07:18 AM #20
Peter Di Eduardo
West End Residential - Morristown, NJ

Great post. Both Android and iPhone have the Zillow app along with other location-based apps that use GPS or wireless signal to locate your position.  Buyers are more equipped than ever.

May 06, 2010 07:25 AM #21
Bill Desai
Bill Desai Real Estate Services, Ontario, CA Lic. #01029863 - Ontario, CA

Hi Sara, Now a days its actually more is better. the more you hide, the harder it gets. Thanks.

May 06, 2010 07:38 AM #22
Chris Alston
Chris Alston (Keller Williams Realty, Silicon Valley, California) - Campbell, CA
Silicon Valley, California
I totally agree. Some could just pass up the listing and make it sit on the market
May 06, 2010 07:40 AM #23
Sara Bonert
Zillow - Atlanta, GA
Real Estate Internet Marketing

Angie (#6) - Great point, thanks for bringing that up.  Hard to believe that would be the default!

Brain (#9) - Yes.  But also, even if the location is great, you'd risk people assuming this if the address is hidden.

Jesus (#11)  - You are totally right, that there are definitely different strategies for different media.  At least with print, you wouldn't be missing out on Google juice. 

Jeremy (#14) - Me too!  But when I did call, I was a much more qualified call.

Christianne (#20) - The listing agent having to be there is a whole other debate - but an interesting one.  In the city of Chicago, both agents very often show up.  I was surprised to learn that after buying homes in three other states where they didn't.

May 06, 2010 07:43 AM #24
Judith Sinnard
SMARTePLANS; Houston, Texas - Houston, TX

I'm guessing it depends what price point you're in. Not listing the exact street address is fairly common for high end properties in the Houston area for a number of reasons ... starting with what John # 16 said, plus security, privacy  concerns and others. The MLS pinpoints the neighborhood, the MLS region, etc. so the "area of town" is known. What is avoided are drive-bys (showings are by pre-qualified appt), and possibly inaccurate property valuations by third parties.

May 06, 2010 07:53 AM #25
Sara Bonert
Zillow - Atlanta, GA
Real Estate Internet Marketing

John (#16) -To insinuate that this post was written to solely benefit Zillow and not the agent/seller is incorrect, paranoid and many statements in your comment are factually wrong. 

First, if the address is not provided at all, the property is totally rejected from Zillow (and every other real estate site that I know of).  We are actually given the address for every listing on the site, the point here is whether or not we are told to display it publically. 

Secondly, we don't use listing information to create Zestimates.  We use public records (past sales, property PIN info, etc).  If factual information (such as bed, baths, sq ft, etc) in the listing data differs from the public record, we will defer to the listing info and use that instead (we assume the agent is more correct than the county) and recalculate the Zestimate accordingly.  The Zestimate formula doesn't look at sales price.  Without an existing public record in the Zillow system, there won't be a Zestimate, regardless of whether or not we display the listing address. 

Lastly, I will again address the opt-out issue for you, even though I have responded multiple times to this same comment you keep making on my posts.  While I am not a Realtor in FL, and haven't read your sales contract lately, I'll comment from a perspective of the overarching DOJ settlement, from which concept was created.  Over a year ago the DOJ settlement said that sellers had a right to opt out of AVM and User/Blog Comments on VOW websites.  Many MLSs and Assn revised their contracts to align with the settlement, so I would assume FL did as well.  Please note that Zillow is not a VOW, and thus the settlement and contract verbiage doesn't apply.  So by posting on Zillow, you would not be in violation.  However, if this still doesn't satisfy you or your Seller, then I would definitely recommend not using Zillow as a market vehicle at all.  The Zillow audience was built by consumers knowing that they could come to Zillow for Zestimates.  To allow for opt outs would be a violation of this relationship, traffic could suffer, and thus the Seller would ultimately receive less exposure for their property.  If you want more information on this issue, please visit this post.

May 06, 2010 08:08 AM #26
Sara Bonert
Zillow - Atlanta, GA
Real Estate Internet Marketing

Judith (#16) - I agree, good point.  Also a strategy with celebrity real estate.  May be especially true if you don't expect to get a buyer from the Internet, but rather your networks (which is probably a big reason the seller picked you to represent the listing!). 

May 06, 2010 08:12 AM #27
Spencer Rascoff
Zillow - Seattle, WA

Great post Sara.

May 06, 2010 09:21 AM #28
Spencer Rascoff
Zillow - Seattle, WA

Great post Sara.

May 06, 2010 09:21 AM #29
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

Some of my listings show up across the internet with no address on them.   All the right buttons are clicked and pushed to say display address but the crazy message appears.  Makes me wonder who's software export/import programs aren't set right.

May 06, 2010 09:24 AM #30
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Sara -- I have never understood why agents would want to hide an address, except under special circumstances.

May 06, 2010 09:47 AM #31
Shawn Murray
RE/MAX The Producers - Omaha, NE
Omaha NE - 402-250-7869

I think that if the sellers are concern about security they should get a BIG dog or invest in a security system.  Both would be negotiable in the sale of the home.  Come on now we have to have a little fun on the Rain.

May 06, 2010 09:56 AM #32
Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time

sara. These are called "secret listings". Makes no sense to me at all to leave the address off. Especially in thijs day and age with Google maps. Folks can even zoom in and do street view. It saves us all a whole bunch of wasted time.

May 06, 2010 11:14 AM #33
John Elwell
CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc. - Zephyrhills, FL
You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results

How can you recommend that we NOT use Zillow as a marketing tool when we have no "opt out" as you said we and our customers should not have? In any case, it is obvious that when a reasonable concern is expressed it is disregarded. So be it. If consumers in the area remain confused and are hurt by this lack of understanding, guess that is their tough luck. In the end, karma tends to take care of things.

May 06, 2010 01:36 PM #34
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Sara, I have seen these listings occasionally and the first thing that came to mind was, "This agent's just trying to get people to call." That may work some of the time, but the majority of folks are going to skip that house and go onto the ones with an address.

May 06, 2010 03:50 PM #35
Shanna Hall
Real Estate Solutions - Kirkwood, MO
I love selling houses!!!St. Louis, MO 314-703-1311

I find it really annoying when clients call me with a perfect house and no address because another agent didn't want to publish the address so they could get potential clients.  I think they most likely get calls form other agents...  Thanks for the post!

May 06, 2010 03:57 PM #36
Nogui Aramburo
Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS® - Raleigh, NC
Real Estate Professional in the Raleigh Area

I see some Zillow hatin' going on. It probably hurts the seller more NOT to have their property listed on Zillow, IMO. Zestimates are estimates calculated by software. They will probably get better as time goes on and data is updated.

Except under special circumstances, hiding the address makes no sense at all, Zillow or otherwise, IMO.

May 07, 2010 02:58 AM #37
Herbert Cortes
Patchogue, NY

There are so many families that want out of their unfortunate situation and the agent has become the answer.  Agents would benefit by having a buyer already set up before there is a short sale.  Therefore if you have the property I have your buyer.  If we can work together we can all win, including the home owner, the bank, the agent and the buyer.

Herbert Cortes

New York Real Estate Support Team


May 07, 2010 05:31 AM #38
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Little Sara.....

You would think that as agents, we would want to simplify and make the process of a home purchase fun, attractive and lucrative to all parties involved.....playing GUESS THE ADDRESS escapes me although I am not surprised at anything now-a-days especially in this business. Thank you

May 08, 2010 03:48 AM #39
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