Why Zillow is 'NOT' Your Enemy!

Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

In a culture rampant with fake news and conspiracy theories, many people are easily duped into consuming the latest hoax or biting on link-bait cast by those who peddle fear in exchange for increased site visits and page rank.

Although our industry seems to be ever evolving, some prefer the predictable status quo, and militantly resist anything that would potentially upset the proverbial apple cart of income.

When markets shift, or difficulties arise (including unexpected pandemics!), fear of the unknown is often selfishly manipulated for personal profit or popularity by those who claim to care about our business.

And when our livelihood appears threatened, and revenues begin to dwindle, it can be easier to blame others for our misfortune, rather than acknowledging our own failures or inabilities to adapt to emerging trends or market dynamics.

Nowhere in the real estate space is fear mongering, conspiracy theories, and blame-shifting more abundant than as it relates to the evil empire known as Zillow.

Back in November of 2007, just 18 months after their launch, then President Spencer Rascoff published an article on ActiveRain entitled, "Why Zillow is not "The Enemy!"

I find it interesting to note that many of the arguments Spencer raised nearly 13 years ago are still many of the tiresome claims being leveled against Zillow today.

Allow me to digress, and provide some historical context. As a seasoned veteran of real estate (or dinosaur, if you prefer), I can still recall the old multiple listing service books utilized prior to the advent of the Internet. Back then, quite literally, we held the keys to the kingdom! In order to show a home, you had to physically go to the listing brokerage's office and pick up the key!

From its unveiling at the NAR conference in November of 1995, the Real Estate Information Network (RIN), which included the Realtor.com platform, seemed poised for greatness! We were thankful for an organization that clearly embraced technology, and its potential seemed limitless. Unfortunately, our excitement was short lived! By the end of 1996, RIN had been collapsed, and the operation of R.com was handed over to a 3rd party interest (if you really want a better understanding of what happened to RIN and R.com, seek out my friend, Saul Klein. He was there right in the middle of it all. He was one of the few from within our rank & file who realized the full potential on the Internet, even back then!).

Regardless of who or what was to blame for the miscues and mistakes surrounding the eventual direction of R.com, the years that followed afforded opportunities for others to jump into the listing syndication fray.

Most agents and brokerages were initially very welcoming of both Trulia and Zillow as they began to gain traction. Increased FREE exposure for our listings in exchange for advertising considerations seemed like a fair trade off. Back in those days, one could still generate a decent amount of traffic and eventual leads through your own personal website or brokerage portals.

That was then, This is now.

Regardless of how one feels about Zillow, you have to agree they are an incredibly smart company. Not only does their platform attract more unique monthly visitors than any other home search platform (January 2020 36M per Statista. Twice as much as R.com), but they've effectively established themselves as the online experts for all things real estate.

Zillow hasn't achieved such successes by simply catering to agents and brokers, although the lion share of their revenues are a result of their Premier Agent advertisers. But their dominating accomplishments have come as a result of being laser-focused on understanding and satisfying consumer demands. 

While we're busy arguing over logos, or how to best articulate the value proposition of being a REALTOR®, Zillow committed their energies and resources on what was important to consumers, as well as anticipating their future needs. 

Who are we to argue about the ills of Zillow when we can't even take time to pick up the phone, or respond to a potential client's question in a reasonable amount of time? Is it any wonder that our collective industry has such an abysmal rating compared to other businesses?

Does the fear of Zillow keep you awake at night? Do you ever wonder what keeps Zillow awake at night? Focusing on how can they make the home buying/selling process easier for consumers.

So, whether you're worried about Zillow opening up a national brokerage, upset that they're buying and selling homes through Zillow Offers, pissed off about those pesky Zestimates, or simply worried you'll end up like one of those extinct travel agents, ultimately, you can only control your own mindset and actions.

The best advice I was ever given came early on in my real estate career, by one of my valued mentors. He told me, "Rich, if you focus your energy on listening to what people want and serving them to the best of your abilities, everything else in life will follow!"

Listening to consumers and serving their interests. What a concept!!

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Rich Jacobson is a REALTOR® and licensed Broker with Fathom Realty. He's a Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, skilffuly vanquishing anything in a shell! He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.

Comments (49)

Brandon Jordan
ERA American Real Estate - Crestview, FL
Sep 07, 2020 01:20 PM
Brandon Jordan

One or two you can understand but do you see a pattern? 





Sep 07, 2020 04:37 PM
Rich Jacobson

So what exactly does this prove? We live in a sue-happy culture. Everyone gets sued. Does that make them bad?

Sep 07, 2020 03:51 PM
Nick Krehnke 425-202-5655
All Square Mortgage INC. - Seattle, WA
"Your Trusted Friend in the Home Loan Biz" :)

You can give good customer service or not, but that has nothing to do with the fact that Zillow is comng after your paycheck. They are not just coming after the pipeline of agents who give crappy service, although they will  have a more receptive audience from them

Sep 07, 2020 02:07 PM
Rich Jacobson

Hey, Nick! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. So just curious, from your perspective, how exactly is Zillow coming after anyone's paycheck? Can you provide factual data to support such a claim?

Sep 07, 2020 03:43 PM
Nick Krehnke 425-202-5655

Yes. You go to Zillow.com and pretend you are someone looking to buy or sell real estate. Do that for 5 minutes. 

Sep 07, 2020 04:55 PM
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

 What is is about Florida? Is there something in the water there that causes people to have such a powerful dislike for Zillow?

Sep 07, 2020 04:21 PM
Brandon Jordan
ERA American Real Estate - Crestview, FL



If you knew how many contacts I had to try to email, call, and report this scam to get a ticket open with Zillow it would surprise you. 

Sep 07, 2020 04:28 PM
Fern S. Hamberger
Corcoran - Manhattan, NY
The Fern Hamberger Team

I cant prove what a giant competitor is doing but most everyone in NYC is scared of this giant. and I do not know what you know about Zumper, another small competitor,  they started as a platform for rental and they are now a brokerage firm. so we think Zillow will just follow eventually. They will not do it the old fashion way but they are already earning 35% of agent's commissions. They are totally growing because using your listings and your clients.

  • I do not have the means to go after a giant and prove anything. However, I can definitely prove they are 
  • Acquiring my prospective buyers name from my listings and other colleagues' listings
  • and selling them to premier agents and those premier agents are going elsewhere with our
  • prospective leads.

  These are their acquizitions courtesy of Wikepedia;


  • In April 2011 Zillow acquired Postlets, an online real estate listing creation and distribution platform. Terms of the deal were not disclosed publicly.[15]
  • In November 2011, Zillow acquired Diverse Solutions for $7.8 million.[16]
  • In May 2012, Zillow acquired RentJuice, a software-as-a-service company which allows landlords and property managers to market and lease their rental properties through a set of online tools. RentJuice was acquired for $40 million.[17]
  • On October 31, 2012, Zillow acquired the real estate shopping and collaboration platform, Buyfolio.[18]
  • On November 5, 2012, Zillow acquired Lincoln, NE based mortgage technology company Mortech for $17 million.[19]
  • On November 26, 2012, Zillow acquired HotPads for $16 million. HotPads, founded in 2005, lists real estate and rental listings on a map-based web interface.[20]
  • On August 19, 2013, Zillow acquired StreetEasy for $50 million.[21]
  • On July 16, 2014, Zillow acquired Retsly, a Vancouver, B.C.-based startup that helps developers access real-estate data from multiple listing services (MLS).[22]
  • On July 28, 2014, Zillow announced a deal to buy Trulia for $3.5 billion.[1][23]
  • On February 17, 2015, Zillow announced the completion of its acquisition of Trulia and the formation of the Zillow Group brand portfolio.[24]
  • On July 22, 2015, Zillow Group announced it would acquire Dotloop for $108 million.[25]
  • On January 3, 2016, Zillow Group announced it would acquire Naked Apartments for $13 million.[26]
  • On August 2, 2016, Zillow Group acquired Bridge Interactive.[27]
Sep 07, 2020 04:40 PM
Rich Jacobson

"I can't prove what a giant competitor is doing"....therein is the problem. Everyone is prognosticating/speculating on what Z is doing, and no one really knows! Most of the stuff being spread online is conspiracy theories. I know your market in Manhattan is especially challenging these days with many new portals like Zumper jumping into the fray, capturing eyeballs.

Sep 07, 2020 06:01 PM
Rich Jacobson

Life is much too short to live in fear of what Zillow is or isn't going to do?

Sep 07, 2020 05:49 PM
Fern S. Hamberger
Corcoran - Manhattan, NY
The Fern Hamberger Team

now I have the following page: t

Sell to Zillow; we'll handle the rest:



Sep 07, 2020 04:56 PM
Fern S. Hamberger
Corcoran - Manhattan, NY
The Fern Hamberger Team

this is on their website:

Complete an application

First, answer questions about your home and check eligibility. A Zillow Advisor will follow up within 1-3 days.


Get a market value

The Zestimate, facts you provided, and comparable homes nearby are used to calculate an estimated sale price.


Schedule an evaluation

Complete a free in-person evaluation. Zillow takes care of any repairs for you and clearly reflects them in your offer.


Review final offer

Get your no-obligation offer, choose a closing date, and your cash payment will be transferred within a few days.

What sellers are saying

Read more testimonials

Frequently asked questions

What is Zillow Offers?

Is there a fee to request an offer?

I’m not ready to commit - can I still get an offer?

Will applying for an offer change my Zestimate or Zillow page information?

Where is Zillow Offers available?

See more FAQs

Zillow, Inc. has a real estate brokerage license in multiple states. A list of our real estate licenses is available here.

TREC: Information About Brokerage ServicesConsumer Protection Notice

California BRE # 1522444

Sep 07, 2020 04:57 PM
Rich Jacobson

any yet the truth remains that every house bought by Zillow uses an agent/broker, and every house sold by Zillow uses an agent/broker. And yet you yourself have a profile on Zillow???

Sep 07, 2020 05:48 PM
Fern S. Hamberger
Corcoran - Manhattan, NY
The Fern Hamberger Team

In the begining, they were NOT doing any of that!! I started with Trulia and I was sucked in by Zillow. I am only interested in making a living and helping my clients. I love real estate and I excel at it. I take the first time buyers by the hand and I deal with the biggest investors. I have no fear. I play by the rules, I live and let live and most all good agent do that. We work hard and we become part of our client's family. and all of a sudden, we get advisors from zillow not know what a coop or a condoop is in the very begining. I went to streeteasy and we loved it. but all of a sudden, they want us to pay exorbitent amount of money and they do increase the price. they bought everything else, liked naked apartment and they bught postlets which helped us post on craigslist. Tighter and tighter, life is short but it should be fair. Complaining here won't matter but if you do not list on zillow, where do you list, they bought everything else...


Sep 07, 2020 06:08 PM
Rich Jacobson

Fern - I truly value and respect your sentiments here. We exist for our clients! There is no better feeling in life than making home ownership a realtiry for 1st Time Buyers! Sometimes it seems that things are stacked against us, especially on the Interwebs, be we need to adapt, use what tools we can to our advantage, and focus on what we can control! I have a profile on Zillow. I publish reviews there. It's where the majority of home buyers are looking, and I want them to find me there, and they do! Without paying Z a dime! It gives my listings needed exposure. Not such a pronounced need now, but just wait until the market shifts, and listings start to lanquish for months, then Zillow will be everyone's best friend!


Sep 07, 2020 06:48 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Rarely are things totally bad or good but a little bit in between and it’s all in what you do with them

Sep 07, 2020 09:23 PM
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

The day Zillow decided to sell the leads from my leads to the highest bidder willing to pay for a zip code, was the day they started a war on Realtors.  As a listing agent my job is to sell listings. I can choose to syndicate my listings on Zillow knowing what will happen. I can also choose to hold some listings back from Zillow. Zillow upped the battle with the plans to bypass Realtors. I started with Trulia, the once greatest real estate site there was. We would get the leads from our own listings.Then Z wrecked that 

Sep 08, 2020 05:30 AM
Rich Jacobson

So Scott, just curious....when your listings get syndicated to all of your competitor sites there in Manchester like RE/MAX or Keller Williams, do you demand all the leads for your listings from them? And just exactly how has Z bypassed realtors? Do you have any factual evidence to support that claim? Or are you simply passing on misinformation you've heard from others?

Sep 08, 2020 09:26 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Rich,

Maybe it is time for us to give excellent service to our own clients. Having years of experience in the same market can be a competitive advantage too. I always try to get the most money or the best price or conditions for my clients.

Sep 08, 2020 07:43 AM
BethAnn Long
RE/MAX of Spokane - Spokane, WA
Realtor, CRS, e-PRO, Spokane Wa Real Estate

I currently do not pay Zillow- and don't plan to ever again. I have tried that a few times, and honestly don't have the energy to deal with the leads. I do keep my profile & reviews as up to date as possible, because no matter what we think about  Z , the public uses it. I believe there will always be a certain number of people who will rely on good old fashioned personal service, with people who they already know and trust. I am on track with my 2020 goals and don't fret about others , or the competition. I focus on keeping in touch with my sphere, and believe in abundance, not scarcity. I don't win over 100% of the people I would like to, but that's OK. Zillow is a bit of a headache to me, because zestimates are not a proper way to evaluate a homes worth. Condition is too big of a factor, SEEING the home in person is KEY! So, again, I just keep my nose to the grindstone. I am not willing to pay for leads. Been there, done that. Sold 50 homes in 2019 , on track for same in 2020. BethAnn in Spokane

Sep 08, 2020 07:50 AM
Rich Jacobson

Hey, BethAnn! So nice to see your smiling face pop up! I really love your attitude. If more people would adopt your mindset, rather than wasting so much time & energy berating Z, they just might be as successful as you!

Sep 08, 2020 09:22 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Agent Retired

Well this has gotten ugly hasn't it?

I do not agree with you one bit. Didn't the first time when you published it. I think this is just a re-run.

Sep 08, 2020 02:25 PM
Rich Jacobson
Not ugly by any means, but some good healthy interaction! But in reality, my record isn’t quite as broken as yours! I’ve known of your long-standing disdain for Zillow for some time now. But I still like you and respect you!
Sep 08, 2020 03:07 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Rich:

This is quite a history lesson, and some wise advice. Grousing about Zillow, and other companies in our business...and there are a bunch...doesn't solve a darn thing. The reality is Zillow has become a household word, like it or not.

So focus on what you can do to be your best in your market - listening to your clients/prospects and truly understanding what they want and need, niche marketing and blogging, staying in touch with all of your past clients consistently and in creative/memorable ways, networking "in person" and online with agents around the country, leveraging your social media contacts, using video (Yeah, I need to do more), offering services others don't, and on and on.


Sep 08, 2020 06:20 PM
Rich Jacobson
And THIS, folks, is why I absolutely LOVE Jeff Dowler!!!
Sep 08, 2020 07:41 PM
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Although I'm not a a fan of Zillow, or sites with a similar model, my client profile is certainly aware of them and others like them but prefer to hire me because of my experience and skills.

My client profile is unique, therefore, most prospects wouldn't fit my client profile. I don't care what my competition is doing, I'm only concerned about what I'm doing to provide the most comprehensive buyer/seller experience and performance as easily and quickly as possible.

Find a niche and provide superior service to clients that are willing and able to compensate you for your services. Don't be all things to all consumers, be unique and Keep It Short and Simple.

Sep 08, 2020 10:30 PM
Rich Jacobson

Kimo - absolutely LOVE your mindset! Don't worry or be concerned with what others are doing, but simply focus on being the very best you can, and serve others to the best of your abilities! Thanks for a very refreshing attitude!

Sep 09, 2020 09:06 AM
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

I greatly appreciate those of you who followed up your comments and engaged in meaningful discussion. It's always rather telling that the people who tend to be the most rabid towards Zillow rarely support their claims & conspiracies with actual factual documentation. Most of the misinformation out there is being purported by fear mongerers who do so selfishly, just so they can get you to subscribe to their podcast, newsletter, gain visitors to their website, get you on their mailing list, promote their coaching products, etc...

Sep 09, 2020 03:36 PM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

All of my buyers seem to start off looking on Zillow--and I use their app all the time, despite other local apps that have been developed.  Their new service of buying homes--very interesting and I'll be following that process closely. 

Sep 10, 2020 08:19 AM
Rich Jacobson

Mary - I like your attitude. Your cup is half full! Recognizing that many consumers use their platform, and making use of what you can. That is a sound strategy!

Sep 14, 2020 07:55 PM
Christine McDaniel
Christine McDaniel Realty, LLC - Avon, IN
Broker Associate

Ah, Zillow...... I have a love/hate relationship with Zillow. I subscribed to Zillow when you paid $30 a month to be the only agent in a zip code. I would tell people in the office about it and say "pillow but with a z" to get them to understand what I was saying. I dropped out when they started selling out zip code, home town name and any other way they could slice it up to get more money.

I did think it would be very successful but never thought they would buy up all their competition as I used Trulia, Postlets etc. I said in the beginning that the mls's were selling out agents by sending them the listings. We're held to rules and regulations and they simply aggregate. There are so many websites that just generate leads and sell them to agents.

I myself look on Zillow and recently did a fsbo sale on it. I think we will see another shift as we are not as valuable as we think. People have so much information online. I think the industry will become more of a help you sell type of model. Just my observations. I always thought a national mls and no sending listings anywhere else would have been the best way to protect the industry.  

Sep 10, 2020 12:25 PM
Rich Jacobson

Christine - thank you so much for your insightful comments. We all need to anticipate the next pending shift to our industry. Fortunately for me, I am at the tail end of my RE career, so it's not a big a deal with me. Although I changed brokerages a few years ago in anticipation of the coming changes. We have to be smart enough to know where things are heading, and then be willing to adapt to remain profitable and competitive! Best of luck to you in the days ahead!

Sep 14, 2020 07:54 PM
Stella Barbour
NoVa Brokers LLC - Vienna, VA
Principal Broker, Serving Virginia and Maryland

I liked the old zillow when you can purchase the zip code and be the only one there for all of the leads  Now they make you purchase the zipcode and compete with 4 or 5 to stay on top by paying thousands of dollars where it was only a few hundred to own the entire zipcode.  Not as exciting to an agent anymore but I will tell you when I first started selling real estate it was a great way to meet new clients and build my client base.  I used several lead platforms in the past to help build my client base. 

Sep 11, 2020 05:06 AM
Rich Jacobson

Hey, Stella! (Love that name!) I agree with you. Those were simpler times. But just like any other company or product, things change, or become more competitive. It's difficult to spend a few hundred anymore on lead gen and expect good results, its not just with Z. But the beauty of our business is there are still so many creative ways to expand your sphere and garner business! Best of luck to you!

Sep 14, 2020 07:51 PM
Nick Krehnke 425-202-5655
All Square Mortgage INC. - Seattle, WA
"Your Trusted Friend in the Home Loan Biz" :)
Rich Jacobson

Nick - it's idiotic maroons like these two that cause all of the hate and fear mongering towards Zillow. Whenever their website page rank starts for falter, or the traffic slows down, they post another hit piece about Zillow. These guys are not our friends. They could care less about us or our industry. They just want to drive traffic to their site and gain eyeballs!

Sep 14, 2020 07:48 PM