Zillow is Now "Encouraging" Consumers Which Broker To Choose?

Reblogger NoCo Home Team
Real Estate Agent with C3 Real Estate Solutions

The Zillow beast is now deciding which agents are 'good' based on whether agents are foolish enough to pay a fortune to be associated with Zillow.  If you don't pay for leads (which are rarely worth the money), you are assumed to be a 'nonresponsive' and not a good option for a consumer.  Its an unbelievably illogical system.

Original content by Leslie Ebersole

Sometimes you read something that just doesn't sound right, so you read it again and are even more astonished. J. Philip Faranda published a post Zillow Agent Reviews: A Request for Sanity in which he described his surprise about an email he received from Zillow about a consumer who wrote a negative review about Phil. Zillow wrote this to Phil

...we are extending you a “Free Pass” and will not publish this review on your Zillow profile. Please note that this is a one-time courtesy and that you will not receive a “free pass” for similar reviews submitted for you in the future.

But this wasn't a simple case of someone who had a bad transaction. The consumer complained that Phil didn't respond to his inquiry. They never had any contact and yet this consumer gets to submit a review?

I was very surprised at the tone...who is Zillow to give a "free pass" to a paying advertiser?

And then today a bigger surprise. On the Zillow Advice site Phil's post is now being discussed. A Zillow representative named Kristin Acker writes this:

"We connect a lot of buyers with agents, we think if we have unresponsive agents, then we shouldn't encourage buyers to contact them. The reason we went with the "Free Pass" described above, was a way to give agents a chance to start responding to consumers Zillow sends them. 

If you see a review on the live site for not responding, that agent has been reviewed TWICE for not responding (we reject the first one we see and send an e-mail to the agent). We believe consumers should be able to find out that this agent may not respond to you. 

Even I could argue the other side, but at the end of the day, we want buyers & sellers on Zillow to have a great experience and find a great  agent. That's one who responds to their inquiry."

Now I've gone from surprised to shocked. Zillow sells advertising space to agents and brokers. Zillow presents listings that brokers pay to syndicate to the site. Zillow does not "encourage" the use of one broker versus another, except by virtue of offering paid space on their site. And since when did "a great agent" get defined by how fast an inquiry is responded to?

I have supported Zillow as an option for clients to get information about houses and markets. I have never feared that Zillow could replace my expertise in pricing a home. Heck, I even put the Zillow mobile app as a choice on the tablets we give out to buyers during their home search. 

When agent reviews were first rolled out on the various aggregator sites, I remember many discussions here on ActiveRain about the possibilities for abuse by disgruntled consumers. We were assured by representatives from companies such as Zillow that there would be checks and balances in the system to make sure that agents were protected from irrational complainers.

But apparently that policy has changed at Zillow. 

Now Zillow sees itself as the gatekeeper to finding a great agent. Apparently that agent is:
- a member of a brokerage who pays to have listings syndicated to the site
- and/or pays for advertising space
- and manages to dodge any and all disgruntled consumers, even ones with whom no contact was made or services performed.

Just yesterday I was telling someone that I have never, and would never write a post criticizing a single firm like an aggregator or a lender. This situation, however, bothers me enough to break my policy. I refuse to sit back and watch Zillow, or anyone else, disingenuously claim their support for a better real estate industry while they attack the very firms and agents who pay for their existence.

No rational person will agree to this.

 

Zillow is a registered trademark of Zillow, Inc.

 


This post was written by Leslie Ebersole of Baird & Warner Real Estate.
Use or reproduction of the material published on this site is expressly prohibited
without the express written permission of the author.

 

My Website FoxValleyRealEstate.net

My Email leslie.ebersole@bairdwarner.com

My Mobile (630)945-7935

close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At

Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Ambassador
754,794
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Leslie & Dee,

...and they recommend whomever fattens Zillow's account.  Sort of like buying votes in Chicago, isn't it?

Mike in Tucson

Dec 14, 2011 04:54 AM #1
Rainmaker
92,967
NoCo Home Team
C3 Real Estate Solutions - Fort Collins, CO
Sell Smart, Buy Wise & Live Well in Nrthn Colorado

Very similar, Mike.  Its unfortunate that they have such a strong market presence.

Dec 14, 2011 04:55 AM #2
Rainmaker
430,175
Betina Foreman
WJK Realty - Austin, TX
Realtor, C.N.E., with WJK REALTY

Its a shame they are taking the "low road" on this issue. They may have started as a FSBO site, but they have rapidly turned into a for profit off the backs/wallets of Realtors site. They would not have very many listings to show if it were not for Realtors. I don't think they should be biting the hands that feed them.

Dec 14, 2011 04:59 AM #3
Rainmaker
430,175
Betina Foreman
WJK Realty - Austin, TX
Realtor, C.N.E., with WJK REALTY

Right now the more you pay Zillow the more they promote you and this has no bearing on how good you are as aRealtor/Broker.

Dec 14, 2011 05:02 AM #4
Rainmaker
92,967
NoCo Home Team
C3 Real Estate Solutions - Fort Collins, CO
Sell Smart, Buy Wise & Live Well in Nrthn Colorado

So true, Betina.  We helped to build the beast that is now consuming our industry.  Its a shame.

Dec 14, 2011 05:07 AM #5
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?

Rainmaker
92,967

NoCo Home Team

Sell Smart, Buy Wise & Live Well in Nrthn Colorado
Ask me a question
*
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Additional Information