Mafia style marketing by Realtor.com

By
Real Estate Agent with Weichert, Realtors - Welcome Home

I read an interesting post this morning by Chris Smith over at Inman.  The post is linked HERE, check it out andhttp://fav.me/d236c8x then come on back.

Did you see what I saw?  Realtor.com President Erroll Samuelson just walked into your "store" Paulie Walnuts style and offered you "protection".  If you pay up, nothing bad will happen to you.  If not, well, you know, things could happen.

Now I realize realtor.com isn't owned by NAR since they sold us out years ago and that realtor.com is a for profit entity,  I realize that they, like their competition (who are beating them by the way), are in the business of using our listings to steal our generate leads so that they can then sell them back to us.

That being said, consumers have expressed a great interest in pictures for years now.  They want to see them.  Lots of them.  Realtor.com is the only website I know of that harvests our listings via idx/data sharing agreements that limits pictures if you don't pay.  You get 4.  Thats it.  If you pay you can have 25.  Guess what?  I have sometimes 50 plus pictures for some listings and zillow and trulia pull them all for me for FREE.  25?  Really, you expected me to pay for that?  How does that enhance the public's opinion of Realtors again, when the very site that bears our name has a standard of 4 pictures per listing? Despite the fact that buyers and seller say pictures are the most important piece of their decisions to go see a home?

I think this 4 picture issue has been hurting realtor.com and as the market turned downward, I have seen many agents stopped paying to showcase listings in favor of spending their dollars elsewhere (or not spending at all as they cut things that don't produce results).  They know consumers have voted with their online "feet" and walked over to other websites with more pictures.  They are losing traffic and losing traffic means losing revenue.

So, the fine folks over at realtor.com were looking for ways to stay afloat and have decided that if they can't get us to voluntarily use their ridiculous non user friendly system and pay those upcharges while they try and sell our leads back to us, then they'll to try scare us into it.

 So now, if I don't pay for a showcase (which I don't), they will not only limit me to 4 lousy pictures but also put a "fill this out for more info" form next to my listing.  That a consumer will think links them to the me.  But instead, they will re-direct them to an agent who "bought" a zipcode.  Isn't that a little dishonest?  and you try and sell me on this by saying that you're giving my listing more exposure because you are putting up 25 pictures?

Here is the part that really (pardon my language) pisses me off. Consumers and Realtors deserve better than this from the site that bears our name.

Rather than find a way to make their product better, to help me see value, to create something I would actually want to spend my dollars on, something that actually helps buyers and sellers, realtor.com chose to extort us.  They chose to alienate us further and siphon even more people away from us if we don't pay. The only way to "protect" my "leads" is to pay up.

 I don't know how profitable an extortion based business model is for them, but I guess we'll find out. 

Did you see the Opt Out policy in the article too?  While an agent can individually choose to pay and opt in, only the broker can choose to opt out of this.  So an agent who doesn't want to pay must now ask their broker to opt out for the entire office or allow possible "leads" to go to their competitors.  Nice choice there, pit the agents against each other in the hopes that brokers won't opt out because some of their agents think this is a good idea.

 Sorry realtor.com, you lost me a long time ago because your products weren't providing me or my clients value and this new policy of yours just put the final nail in your coffin.  Hang on to the name NAR sold you, because the free marketing of that name is all you'll ever get from Realtors like me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I will go have my broker opt out entire company out of this extortion scheme.

(image courtesy of Cowboy Lucas)

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  1. Mark Brian 10/28/2011 06:35 AM
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Rainer
144,225
Former Agent
None - Adak, AK

Hi Jason, thank you for the thoughtful blog post.  It is interesting that Realtor.com is seemingly trying to extort money from the agents by holding photos hostage for an increased fee.  I guess I am fortunate that Coldwell Banker offers a program where for a small fee, we can have all of listings featured and/or showcased on Realtor.com, Yahoo.com, Trulia, Zillow and Aol.com. 

Oct 25, 2011 02:55 PM #1
Rainmaker
117,024
Jason Burkholder
Weichert, Realtors - Welcome Home - Lancaster, PA
Associate Broker, Realtor, e-Pro, CMS

Hi Aimee, thanks for stopping by!  Weichert has similar sydication agreements, so my issue isn't really "am I getting exposure", no worries there, actually I don't even pay a fee for that, they just do it.  I just take issue with the thought that in this market, realtor.com can do alot better than this.  it just looks like a desperate grab at market share in the fight for online dollars

Oct 25, 2011 02:59 PM #2
Rainmaker
507,906
Jerry Murphy, CRS, SRES
Long Realty West Valley - Anthem, AZ
Anthem, Phoenix, and Scottsdale AZ Real Estate

I agree Jason. I haven't used Realtor.com for years.  In addition to their extortion practices, I find they don't sweep their listings very often.  I get requests all the time from people who have found listings on their site, only to find that the homes sold six months ago.  It's a useless site nowadays.  Good post and best of luck to you.

Oct 25, 2011 03:03 PM #3
Rainmaker
117,024
Jason Burkholder
Weichert, Realtors - Welcome Home - Lancaster, PA
Associate Broker, Realtor, e-Pro, CMS

Thanks Jerry, You're right about the outdated data, it's very frustrating to buyers!

Oct 25, 2011 03:06 PM #4
Rainer
144,225
Former Agent
None - Adak, AK

Oh, yes.  All CB listings are syndicated to 350 websites, and for a small fee, agents can have all of their listings either "featured" or "showcased" on the Fabulous Five.  Can you tell I love Coldwell Banker!!??!!

I guess everybody is trying to find a way to survive in this market.  I do agree that Realtor.com is extorting money from agents by charging a fee for more than 4 photos.  It would seem that they would benefit from having all of the various photos available for every listing.

Oct 25, 2011 03:12 PM #5
Rainmaker
117,024
Jason Burkholder
Weichert, Realtors - Welcome Home - Lancaster, PA
Associate Broker, Realtor, e-Pro, CMS

I would agree, they would benefit, buyers would benefit, sellers would benefit, its a win for everyone!

Oct 25, 2011 03:15 PM #6
Ambassador
2,492,088
Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Jason, I have no respect for Realtor.com or NAR.  

NAR is like the "Closed Shop Union" that a worker must join to get a job. 

 

Oct 25, 2011 05:21 PM #7
Rainer
140,564
Maureen Fukumoto
Help-U-Sell Realty Pro - Mililani, HI
Maureen

I pay for showcase with Realtor.com, not because I believe in their product and I certainly don't get leads from it.  Unfortunately I am asked about it often on listing presentations.  The public doesn't understand that it is not a Realtor sponsored site.

My contract is up in January and I probably won't renew.

Oct 25, 2011 05:46 PM #8
Rainmaker
117,024
Jason Burkholder
Weichert, Realtors - Welcome Home - Lancaster, PA
Associate Broker, Realtor, e-Pro, CMS

Fred, I think NAR does provide value but you're right, it could be better

Oct 27, 2011 07:30 AM #9
Rainmaker
117,024
Jason Burkholder
Weichert, Realtors - Welcome Home - Lancaster, PA
Associate Broker, Realtor, e-Pro, CMS

Maureen, I think that educating the sellers on what it is and how it works (or doesn't in this case) is key, I would like to say i support the site with our name on it, it just doesn't bring the results it could if it was done differently

Oct 27, 2011 07:32 AM #10
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Jason Burkholder

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