When Realtor.com recently announced that they were going to be selling buyer leads on other agent's listings, I could not believe it. As a broker who has tried numerous lead generation services from, Zillow, to Trulia, HomeGain and even USHud.com, I am amazed at the number of search sites that now make a profit by using my hard earned listings to generate leads for other agents. These search sites lured us in through MLS syndication agreements and gradually transitioned to this new model. They essentially used all of our listings to become the dominant real estate search sites and then said, "oh by the way if you want to be featured on your own listings, you have to pay us or we're going to feature someone else."
We collectively made them into the giants that they are and now they have turned around and thanked us by forcing us to pay them for what once was free and should rightfully be offered to us. The worst part about this is that if we want to remain competitive and ensure we are giving our clients the maximum amount of exposure, it's in our best interest to place our listings on these sites, but it just doesn't feel right to me. This is one of the main reasons I founded MungoList.com. I believe that the real estate search sites of tomorrow will be sites that always feature listing agents on their own listings and make a profit with good old fashioned advertising and enhanced services. I also believe that the focus will also shift from selling buyer leads to providing new listings.
The search sites of today are more focused on their bottom lines as opposed to adding value. While most of them provide tools and resources, they all have adopted the same model of "Pimping" listings for a profit and many brokerage firms are pulling their listings from these sites because of it. Its going to be interesting to see how this shakes out, but my hope is that sites like MungoList will usher in a new way for agents to increase their listing's exposure without being forced to pay for what is already theirs.