ZILLOW, TRULIA, and the likes, are they the true "Experts" in real estate?

Managing Real Estate Broker with REIGN REALTY

So are Zillow & Trulia the real estate "experts?"  I am confident, and brave enough to say NO!  

The real estate industry has seen many changes within the past few years, from technology advancements, to the role of a Realtor, and the changes happened so fast and furious its no wonder there are many that are confused.  

Because of this fast pace of change, the creation of businesses like a Zillow, and Trulia, and blog sites that allows anyone to "ask an expert," the public (whom the majority always had a negative image of a Realtor) were convinced  they can do their real estate work themselves, and have not a need for a Realtor!


This way of thinking is flawed.  

As a full-time Realtor, over the years I have had many experiences with both sides of the public's feelings about the value of a Realtor.  Some love, and respect what we do, and some simply do not!  And with such extreme emotions, I decided to be a Realtor that strictly takes on the role of educating, involving, and assisting customers in need of real estate transaction assistance, with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth given to them.  And you know what I've found to be true? Most people looking to buy or sell real estate are mostly concerned about the commission!  

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking in front of a group of people whose ages varied from mid 20s to mid 80s!  The topic, of course was real estate.  Not so much as to what is happening in the market (even a blind person can see that), but more informative as to the true value of a Realtor.

After my speaking time, the feedback was incredible.  I had older folk tell me "in all my years as a homeowner, and buying and selling real estate, you said things that I never heard of...things I never knew."  Some of the basic things I spoke about, you know, things that everyone should know when buying or selling real estate, was new information to this group of intelligent people, which really didn't come as too much of a surprise.

Folks had no idea there were 4 types of agents.  Some had no idea how the commission worked.  Many didn't know the difference between a licensed individual, and a Realtor.  And I feel safe to say, all had no idea the value of a Realtor!

Today, with websites like Zillow, Trulia, and the like, it is easy to understand why the public seem to think these sites are experts in the real estate industry.  

This flawed thinking is what me and my collegues must correct.  

I have had buyers say they thought sites like these have ALL the properties that are for sale, and that all the tools on their sites is enough to help them buy real estate without a licensed Realtor.  The biggest misconception is that these sites data is totally accurate, and most updated.

FACT: Realtors are the gatekeepers of data for every property in the Multiple Listing Service that are for sale, and their status' thereafter.  Some of these websites are synced with the Realtors database, making Realtors the source of information.

FACT: Some of these websites are businesses that advertise products and services to the public.  In other words, they are for profit companies with real estate as the hook to attract consumers so they can sell other products and services by advertisers that pay for a spot on some of these websites.  

Its the real estate firms that hold written agreements between the homeowner and the firm in respect to marketing properties on such sites.  Not all homeowners, nor brokerage firms, want that kind of mass property exposure, believe it or not.

With that said, know that not all firms participate in this information sharing of listing information, nor allow sites like those mentioned, and others, to display certain information on their sites about a listing for many reasons.

FACT: Realtors adhere to a code of conduct / rules when it comes to the maintenance of listing in the MLS system.  It must be timely, accurate, and has legal aspects as well.

Not only do Realtors have accurate information, but we also have a team of volunteer Realtors, and staff members on all levels of our associations that are constantly looking out for the general public at large - homeowners, land owners, and buyers of real estate!  

Realtors have a political action committee that are like watchdogs that look for pieces of legislation that may  adversely affect, or have barriers to equal opportunities to homeownership, or the purchasing of real estate like additional fees that will, or possibly have a negative effect now, or later.

The value of a Realtor is more than just someone to open a house for those seeking to buy after researching a particular property for months on the internet, or to put a sign in the yard when selling.

Let me be clear, I will not say all Realtors are tactful, or honest in their approach.  Nor will I say we are all the same.  What I will say is there is value in any licensed agent that has taken that additional step of paying for a Realtor membership.  And anyone interested in transacting real estate should research that aspect - the value of a Realtor, as well. 

Instead of looking at a Realtor's commission as the sole basis as to why you don't want to hire one, it would behoove you to educate yourself more on exactly how a Realtor can benefit you in your transaction so you have the most assuring experience as possible.  

Nowadays, Most people research properties on the internet and feel they know all there is to know about buying real estate, or a particular property.  But the reality is, most people don't really know the complex process, nor do they really have the confidence to handle such a major purchase without the assistance of a Realtor.  

Think about this: If being a Realtor was not important as some websites prompt others to believe, why would your state require someone be licensed before transacting real estate purchases when dealing with the public?  

Sure there are "investors" that purchase real estate without a Realtor.  But, the majority of them still use Realtors because Realtors have the tools, and other information necessary for an "investor" to transact a real estate purchase, or sale.

Let me ask you: Would you hire a plumber to do your dental work?  Or hire your mother to defend you in court? So why would you opt to purchase such an important, major item as real estate without a Realtor?  

Why envy, or hate someone who has chosen to feed their family strictly on commission?  You, too, can do the same...become a full-time Realtor that is.  The question is, will you?


All expressions are soley those of Raine Spivey. Raine is a Broker Associate of Reign Realty representing Buyers for over 7 years in the Charlotte, NC market.  Have a question for Raine? Email her at RealtorRaine77@gmail.com.  


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Praful Thakkar 02/12/2012 03:59 PM
Home Buying
North Carolina Mecklenburg County Charlotte
first time home buyers

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Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Raine, you are right - there is a lot of value in being a Realtor(r) - there are many web portals try to show that they are experts. I agree with you - they just provide the data - they are not experts.

Jan 18, 2012 06:48 PM #1
Jill Kipnis
Move, Inc. - Westlake Village, CA

Raine, what a great post. We agree that nothing can replace the value of a Realtor when you are buying or selling a home. In fact, Realtor.com strives to connect consumers with real estate professionals so they can increase the number of real estate sales transactions, a connection point that is more important than ever in today's challenging market.

We are committed to giving everyone the tools they need to discover real estate, and it starts with accurate data. On Realtor.com, 82% of the listings are updated every 15 minutes directly from our 900+ MLS partners. The rest of the listings are updated every 1 to 24 hours. This means the listings on Realtor.com are updated more than 98 times a day directly from our MLS partners.

This level of accuracy helps buyers and their agents know almost immediately when a price change occurs, or when a property goes on or off the market, allowing for time and energy to be invested in properties that are active and within a client's budget.

Thanks for bringing these points to the community.

Jan 19, 2012 04:56 AM #2
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years
Sounds like you made a big impact with your talk.
Feb 12, 2012 04:16 PM #3
Ritu Desai
Samson Properties - Ashburn, VA
Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949

Raine, It is amazing number of post/questions are posted on Zillow complaining how the value of their home is way off compared to what is selling. I agree redfin/zillow or trulia are not the ultimate answer but a tool to learn and be aware about the market in the area.

Feb 13, 2012 02:27 AM #4
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