Why did Realtor dot com President Errol Samuelson jump ship to Zillow?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Fred Griffin Real Estate Florida Broker BK436788

     "Where can you innovate more quickly?" asks former Realtor.com President Errol Samuelson.  He answers his own question:  "Zillow.  Mobile is a big interest of mine.  Mobile is where Zillow is the strongest.  If you want to innovate with Mobile...  Zillow is where it's going to happen."



     Errol Samuelson, who is now chief industry development officer for Zillow, left his position as president of Realtor.com on March 5. 

     In response, Move, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Zillow and Samuelson in the Superior Court of Washington State.   The lawsuit charges breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets.


Zillow press release on hiring Errol Samuelson


     What does this mean for Real Estate Brokers and Agents, especially for  those Real Estate Agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR)? 

     Zillow is pulling far ahead of the once dominant Realtor.com.   Internet and Mobile traffic analyses show that consumers prefer Zillow, along with the real estate website Trulia, to Realtor.com.  Key Industry Players like Errol Samuelson see this consumer preference, and are acting accordingly.  

     If Realtor dot com becomes a 2nd or 3rd tier website, if its Search Results fall to page 2 or 3 of Google and Bing Search, Realtor dot com may become irrelevant.  


 Realtor.com sues Zillow



     Zillow's hiring of former Realtor.com president Errol Samuelson - along with the additional "poaching" of Realtor.com Vice President Curt Beardsley - has ignited a firestorm in the Real Estate Community.    Where will it all lead?

Posted by


Frederick Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker    850-545-1901


Tallahassee Florida Metropolitan Area

Exclusive Representation for Buyers and Sellers 

Call Fred  850-545-1901


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Frederick Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker    850-545-1901


Disclaimer:  Nothing in the above blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, or financial advice.  For legal advice see an attorney.   For tax advice or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.



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Jon Kolsky
Kolsky Realty & Management - Long Beach, CA
Licensed California Real Estate Broker

~ watching that video makes me see how out of touch some folks are...Everything is skewed and nothing is what it seems to be on the aggregate websites.... Innman has it right when he says "I don't know how you measure who's #1, (ruthlessness)


Mar 24, 2014 07:54 AM #67
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

More great comments from EVERYONE!
  I cannot respond to all of the comments; I may miss a couple of the better ones. Please forgive me if I fail to reply to your comment.

Jon  #46   That applies to R, T and Z!       Great Images, BTW

Utah Hassle Free #48 good point.  If this gentleman was PRESIDENT of Realtor.com, why didn't he push them for Mobile?


Darrell comment #50    Well said!  

     To others who read your comment about the Zillow badge, please get an understanding of "No Follow" Back Links to understand my own remarks in comment #40.

Marvin  #53  I just fed my cats - 49 cents a can plus tax.   I don't think I made that much from Zillow Leads in 2013 either.

Dwight comment #55     I am looking for a way out of NAR.  It has become a self-serving racket that is completely out of touch with its members.  But that is fodder for another blog...  More on that later!

Gail comment #62   Ding Ding Ding!  We have a Winner!    "It's important for us to understand what sites consumers prefer, so that we can spend our time and money on the sites with the best ROI for our businesses."

Travis comment #63  When I first heard the word, "Zestimate", I thought it was a Sports Drink like Gatorade!   Then I learned that it means the same thing as the Military acronym, "WAG".

  Hi, Bryan comment #65   That is profound.  We have this great tool called RPR (and it is a great tool, seriously), but it is for "Agents Only".  It is a super-secure website that requires multiple passwords to get in.   Why hide that data?  That kind of information would bring eyeballs to Realtor.com. 

General Thought:

     To EVERYONE who says that they despise these websites:   

     Have you asked YOUR Board of Realtors or MLS why they are providing your MLS data to these websites?  Is it for the money?  Is it because of the DOJ ruling from several years ago?  Is it because they want YOU and your Listings to get more Web Exposure? 

     Do YOU have the option to exclude your Listings from the Web (we do, at Tallahassee Board of Realtors - it is on the Listing Contract, and on the MLS Data Entry Form).

     Are YOU posting Back Links to these sites that you say you hate?  If you are, you are giving them SEO/Google Juice with those links.   Check your Source Code, or ask your Web Person.


Mar 24, 2014 07:55 AM #68
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

He says he left for the opportunity to be more innovative. What do you bet he left because they offered him more money?

Mar 24, 2014 08:36 AM #69
Dennis Erickson
"Friend or Foe?" Remember that Zillow was born out of the idea of putting the Realtor out of business, literally. They wanted to remove the third party (Realtors) from the transaction, check the history. Microsoft and Bill Gates were and are the same. They failed because we, through NAR and Realtor.com, still created and controlled our information. We will prevail again, but not without responding to this challenge. Yes, mobile is the future, for now. Why didn't this guy stick with Realtor.com and make it the forerunner in mobile? No loyalty. Money. Pick a reason. When Zillow rules the internet, Realtors lose big. Don't fall into the myth they are out to help us. Not true.
Mar 24, 2014 09:53 AM #70
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

What's the fuss? An opportunity to earn more comes along and he's criticized for moving upward, wouldn't we all? I don't see Zillow improving with an ex leader of NAR and its afiliates joining their team.

NAR should require all listings posted from their MLS database by anyone other than the listing agent or MLS member pay the listing agent an advertising fee for each posting on a daily basis. How far would Zillow and the other website companies who exploit the agents listings without any fees fare? We need a change in leadership and perhaps this might be just the opportunity to initiate a change and reward the real estate agents. 

Mar 24, 2014 10:22 AM #71
Anna Hatridge
Goodson Realty - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty

thank you for the information

Mar 24, 2014 11:26 AM #72
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

The developments surrounding Samuelson, Move, and NAR, certainly have made rounds among real estate professionals the last several days.  It all makes for intriguing reading.  It will be interesting to see if NAR prevails on the trade secrets issue.  

Mar 24, 2014 01:05 PM #73
Steven Nickens
Elite Pacific Properties Maui - Wailea, HI
R(S)GRI ABR, Maui Real Estate Hawaii

Zillow is no friend to the Realtor on the street. We just have to deal with companies like this on-line.

Mar 24, 2014 02:13 PM #74
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F

Realtor.com has been a dinosaur for years.  The only reason they even give you more than 1 photo is because Zillow and Trulia forced their hand.  You used to have to pay thousands of dollars per year to get more than 1 photo.  Realtor.com is an embarassment to Realtors everywhere.  That is a big reason why he jumped ship. 

Mar 24, 2014 05:11 PM #75
Don Price
Mid Carolina Realty LLC - Pinehurst, NC

As REALTORS® - we cannot blame anyone other than ourselves for this situation. Currently we look at Errol Samuelson jumping a sinking ship as something unthinkable that further aggravates our wounds. Frankly, we must look at ourselves for handing off our name and control of our listings to a third party that cut a sweetheart deal with the heads of NAR at the time.  This third party has never played with us with any transparency – who here can post all their services they offer us or better yet a complete fee schedule that assures each of us that buys an ‘extra’ service is paying the same as others doing the same? That has been tolerated for some reason, but in my eyes, our biggest folly was when we gave control of our name to a for profit third party in the first place. Since the initial failed attempt of a national public website owned by us, when everyone was just learning the ropes of the internet,  we quickly sold our soul to a for profit company that has done very well for themselves, and for their stock holders. (Does anyone remember who all was offered stock from our leaders at the time?) Now we see and realize this third party for profit company was not minding the ‘store’ and did not take seriously the upstart companies with bad information and form, becoming many times more relevant than they are, or that we are as a matter of fact  – because we give away our hard earned information to them, so they can sell it back to us in the form of ‘leads’ 1 or 2 chunks at a time.

Errol Samuelson isn’t really the problem; he just wants to survive. Remember, Mr. Samuelson was an employee of a third party for profit company, so in essence he never did not have our best interests at heart, he had his and the company he worked for best interests in mind, and his source of revenue then, was ‘us’. Now the only thing that changes in his life is the company issuing his paycheck, his and the company he works for revenue stream is still based on us – and it is still given to him and the company he works - for free.

The irony of course that ties this up nicely is the forum this is written on, does anyone else remember when we could have signed in to Realtor.org and placed our questions and concerns away from prying eyes and ears, whereas now our major source of communication is one of those darn ‘upstarts’. J

The entire world is striving hard to eliminate inefficiencies – is there anything less efficient then the way we give our work away for free and then we pay the same companies we give it to for the leads our work generates – and we compete/pay for the buyers  that may show an interest. It just seems to me like we invite, and then roll out the red carpet, to middlemen and inefficiencies in our business.

Zillow - Errol Samuelson – congratulations for seeing opportunities and grasping them – better and more accurate data would have been more germane.

Trulia / Market Leader – thanks for keeping pace with Activerain – did you miss an opportunity with this one?

Mar 24, 2014 09:53 PM #76
Fred Van Allen
It may be a bandaid. But we can stop buying zillow and trulia. I once was a buyer and people I talk to say zillow and trulia to not give a good ROI. They didn't for me.
Mar 24, 2014 11:47 PM #77
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Good morning, EVERYONE

    Thanks for your comments.


  Don comment #76.  Very well said.

     When NAR sold lifetime rights to "Realtor.com" to the private company Move, Inc. NAR forfeited all control.   Defenders of that sale will say, "The Internet was young; NAR didn't realize what they were doing.  I say, "I wonder which NAR Leaders at the time profited financially from that sale?"  

     Also, you mention in comment #76 something about Trulia/AR missing this opportunity (to snag Samuelson).  I am thinking that Trulia got out-bid!  



  Thanks again to ALL of you for the Discussion!


Mar 25, 2014 12:23 AM #78
Jim Harper
Atlanta Communities Real Estate - Marietta, GA

Rob Arnold says it best. Realtor.com has been a dinosaur for years.

Mar 25, 2014 02:01 AM #79
David Stefan
ReMax 1st Realty - Marquette, MI
Residential, Land, Commercial, Camps, Lakefront

Fellow Realtors, does it bother you that when you web search your name that Realtor.com comes up first?

Mar 25, 2014 07:03 AM #80
Ernest Villafranca
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate - Oakland, CA
3923 Grand Ave. Oakland CA, 510-418-9443

Why did he jump ship? For money. If Zillow offered me a shit load of money, I'd leave too and go say that Zillow is the greatest company ever. Wouldn't you?

Is Zillow friend or foe? Is a parasite a friend or a foe? It depends.

Mar 26, 2014 03:32 AM #81
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Specializing in Brookside, Waldo, Prairie Village

I didn't hear of this change, thanks for the information!

Mar 27, 2014 10:59 AM #82
pete torelli -
Why is Move taking so long to select a new leader/President for realtor.com? Realtors and Brokers are anxious about the departures of Errol Samuelson and Curt Beardsley to Zillow. We need a President that is/was a broker and a realtor. We need someone who has relationships with real estate brands across the country. We need someone who has good relationships with the national Association realtors. We need a president that knows and understands the MLSs and Associations across the country. I know this is a tall order and very few people meet these requirements, but there is one person that seems like the obvious choice, the current Vice president of realtor.com, Max Pigman. I have followed his career for over a decade and have seen him present over 15 times to brokers, realtors, MLS's, and associations alike. He is articulate, passionate and empathetic to the needs of this industry. He has deep roots in the real estate industry and I believe his blood runs true Realtor blue. Who knows… Maybe he's already been offered and turned it down. I wouldn't blame him. To take on this role in this kind of turmoil is going to be a very tough challenge! If not Max Pigman, someone who meets these qualifications, and soon! I think that Max is The Man! Pete Torelli - Broker-Realtor-Owner - Monterrey Realty of Port St. Lucie Inc. 35 years a Realtor www.petetorelli.com
Apr 04, 2014 07:27 AM #83
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Hi, Pete comment #83

     I saw Max Pigman give presentations for Realtor.com several times.  In fact, I saw him in Pensacola, and in Ft. Lauderdale, and here in Tallahassee.

    The man is a great presenter.  Max gave an entertaining and very informative pitch for Realtor.com upgrades.  And, he got the business... the sign-up tables had lines of Realtors waiting to buy upgrades.

     Would he make a good president for Realtor.com?  I don't know... but he is definitely an interesting choice!

     Thanks for commenting.

Apr 04, 2014 09:59 AM #84
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Push video and why REALTOR dot com does not raise the 100 meg file size limit blows my mine. At least make it 200 meg like other platforms and get with the program. Otherwise you make smaller mp4 files that look good on mobile but blow them up and scary happens. Deaf ears, out of touch is happening but how to charge is not something they are alseep at the switch.

Nov 06, 2014 12:51 AM #85
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Andrew Mooers     100 meg limit?  No way.  This is 2014, not 1994. 

Nov 06, 2014 02:41 AM #86
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