Redux: The Brainstorm

Services for Real Estate Pros with

In less than two months, the National Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors will meet in private to talk about the future of As I documented in my special report, Zillow and Trulia have made significant gains over the last five years and now outrank in unique monthly traffic. Both NAR and Move Inc want to put back in the lead, but it won’t be easy. They have unique challenges that they need to overcome.

imagineJust because the board is meeting in private, doesn’t mean we can’t brainstorm about’s future in public. I hope you will consider adding your own ideas in the comments, or write a blog post and I’ll link to it. Let’s have a conversation about taking back and upgrading it to compete with Zillow and Trulia.

I’ll start with a few ideas.

Idea 1: Use the Consumer Advertising Campaign to fund premium listings.

This is an idea that Houston Association of REALTORS Chairman, Danny Frank has been sharing on social media channels. First, reallocate the money that NAR spends on TV and Radio ads that drive consumers to NAR’s public advocacy efforts on to In exchange, gives every member fully featured ‘premium’ listings with no competing agents on listing property pages, equal ranking for all listings, and the maximum amount of pictures. In addition, HouseLogic would either enjoy additional placement on, or could possibly be folded into altogether; making the central hub for virtually all of NAR’s consumer communications.

This idea eliminates the biggest gripe that REALTORS® have about the premise that, “we give listings to, only to have them charge us for leads back.” While it marks a retreat from traditional media advertising for NAR, it’s possible that an all digital advocacy campaign could be more effective.

Idea 2: Dump Move Inc, and contract Trulia or Zillow to run

Categorize this as a truly crazy idea, but we’re brainstorming, right? The idea here is to let one of the portals build a member friendly site with no competing ads on property detail pages. In exchange, the portal who builds it gets agent access marketing, and possibly even rights to the listing data being sent to I don’t know that Spencer Rascoff or Pete Flint would be anymore comfortable partnering with NAR than the association would be partnering with them, but this would be a way to build a great site with no competing ads for members, without encroaching on the budget.

Idea 3: Give more autonomy in populating content on the site

I believe this is what the folks at Move would prefer. Let them provide the content that consumers want to see. This includes off-MLS listings like new construction, distressed properties and rentals. Hey, maybe even go so far as to allow FSBO’s. Okay, maybe not. This idea gives Move a fighting chance at regaining the lead in attracting consumer eyeballs, and doesn’t cost the association any money. The downside is that some members are not going to want non-member content on the site.

Idea 4: Keep your friends close, and the portals, closer

Perhaps NAR is going about this the wrong way. If the ultimate goal is to help its members affordably market their listings online, why should they limit their efforts to one portal? There’s a great deal of pride around the use of, and it should be the association’s official consumer channel, but perhaps it’s time to start building relationships with Zillow and Trulia as well.

Mix and match as you see fit

Maybe some of these ideas will be combined. Maybe you have better ideas. Now is the time to air them. I guarantee that NAR is listening. Share your ideas here, or on the original post!


Photo: Creative Commons license via Flickr user Javier Q.


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  1. Kathleen Daniels 06/07/2013 08:57 AM
ActiveRain Community
national association of realtors

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Marlis Landreth
Retired - Tucson, AZ
Retired Tucson Realtor

Very interesting blog and comments.  Personally, because we are FORCED to pay dues, they should  be FORCED to stay current. 

Jun 10, 2013 07:05 AM #63
Susan Krancer
Liz Moore & Associates - Williamsburg, VA
Your Williamsburg Golf Connect

Just let go!  I resent "our" organization charging us so much to advertise our own listings.  I used to pay for showcase listings, then my company paid for this for the whole company, then the rates were raised so high that the broker decided to drop it.  I was going to sign up on my own, but it's way more expensive than it used to be.

The platform is not as buyer friendly as Zillow or Trulia.

I've gotten many more leads from both Zillow and Trulia in a year than I got from in 10 years!  There's nothing for us, the realtors, here.  Just let it go!

Not only has lost ground to Zillow and Trulia, but the IDX's of the individual agent and the brokerages have made tremendous inroads.

Jun 10, 2013 08:25 AM #64
Todd Carpenter - Denver, CO

To everyone who says that all we have to do is get everyone to stop sending listings to Zillow and Trulia, please understand that it just isn't going to happen. Not as long as Zillow and Trulia are the two most trafficed real estate portals. Some of you could pull, but competing brokerages will use it against you in attracting listing agreements and recruiting top agents. This is already happening to companies that pulled. 


It doesn't matter if you hate Zillow, or think they should go away. They are here, and until somone builds a better consumer mousetrap, they are here to stay.

Jun 10, 2013 11:25 AM #65
Don Kanare
RE/MAX NORTH LAKE - Incline Village, NV - Incline Village, NV
Incline Village Real Estate

The best solution for the long term is for NAR to file a class action lawsuit against Zillow and Trulia for knowingly providing false information and incorrect property values that harm NAR members economically.  Zillow needs to be consigned to the dust bin of history along with buggy whips and snake oil salesmen.  Only when NAR takes on Zillow and all other real estate portals that provide fraudulent property values will we as Realtors benefit all across the country.

Jun 10, 2013 11:51 AM #66
John Rakoci
Eagle Realty - North Myrtle Beach, SC
North Myrtle Beach Coastal Carolinas

NAR is nothing but a political organization that should be disbanded. Associations force NAR menbership- seems it should be against 'right to work laws'. Never a fan of NAR, never a fan of either. NAR only exists for the benefit of the officers. Nice salary, great perks, play golf with and donate to politicians that some members disagree with and do not like supporting with their money.

Jun 10, 2013 01:08 PM #67
Terkel Sørensen
Real Estate Places - Temecula, CA
Realtor, 951.805.0773 , Bank owned and Short Sales

Imho being associated with is a joke of proportions. Wait, we own it? Oh, ok, when someone at HP screws up this totally, guess what they are in need of... a new job... maybe it's time for a change its obvious that the people in charge are clueless. Sorry, no solution, this pisses me off in an absolutely royal way. And yes, this is the edited version...

Jun 10, 2013 01:15 PM #68
Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker
I held out and paid for their upgrade but never got a lead on my listings. I know this is brainstorming as to what would get me back, but it's too late. It's time for NAR to make this a members site that will give me leads on my listings. Period.
Jun 10, 2013 05:37 PM #69
Deborah Fox
Villager Realty Inc - Selinsgrove, PA

WOW. I love this!  Our company is way into NAR (past officers, etc) and I am an office admin. The day I first saw the bill for "enhancing our listings" I had to be resucitated. What a freaking joke. And to buy zip codes?    If I read some histories of unions that have died, would it feel familiar? 

Jun 10, 2013 10:58 PM #70
Dwight Puntigan
DRP Realty, LLC - Saint Peters, MO
Dwight Puntigan

I like idea #1.  I do not like being forced to be a member of an organiztion that is just another marketing company trying to parasite real estate agents.

Jun 10, 2013 11:20 PM #71
Linda Just
Leibowitz Realty Group - Palm Beach Gardens, FL - Lake Worth, FL

I would love to see Zillow and Trulia out of the picture! The information on their site isn't true and causes consumers to think they can purchase a property when in fact, the property they are looking at was never on market or the property values are not in line with the actual market. 

This has been my gripe this past year because even though my customers receive an automatic alert to current property on market, they send me MLS#'s from properties on the other sites...listings that never even existed or if they did, they sold years ago. Until a Realtor points this out to the consumer, which I'm finding, I need to do on a weekly basis these days, with the market picking up.

I'm with Don Kanare. What is taking NAR's attorney's so long in filing suit against these sites? Certainly NAR can prove beyound a reasonable doubt that these sites are purely consumer and do not contain actual listings, should be a disclaimer....


Jun 10, 2013 11:29 PM #72
Todd Carpenter - Denver, CO

Linda, most of the innaccurate listings on Zillow and Trulia are there because your competitors put them there, and never bothered removing the listing once the house was no longer on the market. You're asking NAR to sue for the actions of it's own members. That would be like sewing the New York Times because the couch you want to buy in their classifieds had already sold.


Interestingly, from what came out of the BOD meeting at Midyear, the change wants to make most, is to add non-MLM listings to their site. It will be interesting to see how they do that without damaging their history of providing very accurate data. Non-MLS data is the overwhelming source of innaccurate data on the other sites.

Jun 10, 2013 11:39 PM #73
Marti Steele Kilby, CRS
Steele Group Realty - La Mesa, CA
Broker/Owner, San Diego, CA

I agree with Ken (comment #59).  NAR's advertising is wimpy and could be better directed.  I am not a fan of either Tulia or Zillow, and would like to see become competitive in the consumer marketplace, but I'm not hopeful that they will be able to take meaningful action.  In the meantime, it annoys me to pay NAR dues for absolutely no benefit to my business.

Jun 10, 2013 11:50 PM #74
Bill Morrow
Keller Williams of Central PA - Mechanicsburg, PA
Bill Morrow, Associate Broker

Very timely post.  Our firm is currently re-evaluating and how it impacts our business plan.


Thank you

Jun 11, 2013 12:13 AM #75
Tim Dykstra
Trophy Class Real Estate/Sports Afield Trophy Properties - Holland, MI
Tim Dykstra

If Trulia or Zillow were the least bit accurate with the property information they present, there may be a small opportunity to work with them. Unfortunately, they, how can I say this accurately, stink! I have clients call me about properties that have been sold for years that still hang out there waiting for action. Other properties are not nor have they been for sale. As far as I can see, there is nothing in place to monitor or verify what is being dumpped onto those sites. If I pay to advertize there, I can stick anything I want on it, even my neighbor's home that is not for-sale, in order to pull leads for other properties. Snarkey business practice at best. This frustrating repetitive annoyance gives these two companies little to no credebility and to suggest they become the overseers of is rediculious. Might as well put Bozo in charge of the IRS. Oh, wait, he already is.

Jun 11, 2013 01:14 AM #76
Curt Hess
ExecuHome Realty - Annapolis, MD
Luxury Home Consultant, Team Leader & CEO

Call me CRAZY, but I think we are treading into very dangerous when our Trade Association becomes a For-Profit-Vendor who then REQUIRES us to purchase their goodies or get out of the business. 

Think that this might be far-fetched? Read all about the DotLoop vs. California AR where agents cannot take advantage of the latest in multi-device management of the transaction part of our business because CAR refuses to allow their forms to be used by a competitor to their own company ZipLogix. wow...

When the critical pieces of our business infrastructure are OWNED by our association, which tail is wagging the dog?

Jun 11, 2013 01:15 AM #77
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

You must wear rose colored glasses. I did a post about this a few weeks ago & I asked AR what they thought with very little response.  If NAR is going to throw away our money, I believe we should have at least a say so in the processes.

First off - T & Z are our COMPETITORS.  Why not operate like a business & put them out of business?  Take back our market share that we once had? I don't think that is currently possible.  I don't want to sleep with the enemy - we've done that long enough.

I asked is a dinosaur that should become extinct? I say we put a DNR 'Do not recessitate' sticker on it.  They have ignored it, sidelined it, mismanaged it long enough - What do they expect?  DNR is required so as not the cost 'us' any more money.


Jun 11, 2013 01:26 AM #78
Ric Mills
Keller Williams Southern Az - Tucson, AZ
Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge

I believe NAR let Realtor.Com lose ground as it failed to watch what the competition is doing on promoting theri sitss.  Now it is time to play catchup.  Trulia dn Zillow have a big lead but Realtor can catch up if they want to.  Make the sites better than the competition.  it won't eliminate Trulia or Zillow but become a player again or join forces.  It is called moving ahead or go away.

Jun 11, 2013 06:58 AM #79
Janine Boulay-Seibert
Remax Town & Country - Murphy, NC
NC & GA Real Estate Broker

Great topic. The last few years we have battled with all the online content and the reliability of the information produced. I would think the attack on Realtor commitions and the tax breaks of home ownership that the NAR would do everything to save the industry including Thanks for bring up this topic.

Jun 11, 2013 12:13 PM #80
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

As a REALTOR I own but honestly it does me no good as I do not pay for advertising.  I really see at right now as a profit center to support a bureaucracy.  

I think all members should have an exposure there.  Possible a combination of a National MLS and a Blogging platform.  Member web sites and links.  Of course they could charge for some upgrades and featured listings.

Jun 12, 2013 07:36 AM #81
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

I've meant to read this for some time.  The former CEO of our MLS, the largest and oldest in the country was hired by Zillow.  What does that say?  They want better data, better reporting, directly competing with at their own game with inside information as to how our MLS is best and effective for realtors.  It's no wonder they are competing!  Our former CEO was awesome, very creative and got things done!

Jun 13, 2013 04:06 AM #82
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