The Zillow-Trulia Merger Could Radically Reduce America’s Realtor Population – but I doubt it!

Luke Buchanan

As a realtor, I use both Trulia and Zillow.  These sites provide web exposure and occasionally generate weak leads causing me to wake up early, or work late to show a house to an unprepared buyer.  This merger means little to me beyond creating the convenience of only having to monitor one site.  If someone is relying on Zillow then they should expect a laundry list of irrelevant listings and many hours wasted.  Realtors scrutinize the housing market; isolate the the top 20% of homes; then cater the transaction specifically to the client.

The process follows the Pareto Principle, commonly known as the “80-20 rule,” which was introduced by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1906.  The theory suggests that 20% of the input creates 80% of the result.  For example, in general, 20% of your customers represent 80% of your sales; 20% of your workers produce 80% of your revenue; 20% of your time produces 80% of your results; 20% of you errors contribute 80% of your problems.

Bottom Line: If you wouldn’t buy a house off Craigslist then you shouldn’t buy a house off Zillow/Trulia

The Zillow-Trulia Merger Could Radically Reduce America’s Realtor Population

Editor’s note: On Monday, Zillow agreed to purchase Trulia for $3.5 billion in stock. This recent column nailed the significance of the deal.

If Zillow and Trulia join forces, could they take over the industry?

The real-estate selling industry will need to concede, either formally or informally.

Informally, we have already given up.

We are not a union and there is no real leadership among realtors. We are independent contractors spread all over the map, literally and figuratively, so trying to get us to rally for the cause will be met with indifference.

Many of us already think Zillow could be a big improvement for the business.

Let them spend the big money of advertising. We’ll contribute our share in exchange for specialized leads — consumers drawn to our own listings or those looking for a local expert in our target areas.

How will it evolve?

The Next Phase

1. Inc. makes a wimpy attempt to compete by spending half of the advertising money being spent by Zillow-Trulia to attack their inaccuracies (campaign currently underway). If you want a chuckle, here’s an example:

2. Corporate real-estate companies join forces with Zillow (also underway).

3. Local MLS companies do nothing.

Zillow and Trulia will continue to dominate the headlines for the next few months, and will be forgotten by consumers.

The local MLS systems don’t have to die — they just need to be irrelevant or a duplicate. Our local Sandicor MLS is faster and more accurate than the listings on Zillow, but does the consumer really NEED listings updated every 10 to 15 minutes? Realtors might, but not the consumers — they are on auto-notifications and will get the new listings soon enough (the frenzy is over, reducing the need for speed).

Can we all coexist? Yes, but Zillow has shown a killer instinct and has loads of VC money behind it. I think they will pursue all angles — and here’s the one that will divide and conquer the realtor community.

The Kill Shot

Previous attempts by and Redfin to produce an agent-rating or -ranking site was met with vigorous opposition from realtors. Why? Because most realtors don’t want their sales history out in the open.

But the successful and powerful agents stand to benefit greatly — the same ones who can and will pay Zillow the big money for advertising.

It is a natural fit for Zillow to buddy up to the top producers and get them to help promote their new agent-ranking site.

The cabal will be shattered.

The local associations of realtors and the MLS companies who have feasted on having realtors paying dues regardless of production will suffer — and should die off completely if 20% of the realtors are doing 80% of the business. They can’t survive an 80% reduction in dues.

When consumers see that their agent-friend down the street hasn’t sold a house in six months – they will hesitate. The Zillow advertising will encourage you to select one of their top producers instead (the ones paying for advertising).

It should clear out the realtor population within a year or two, and turn upside down the local associations, MLS companies, and the top-heavy big corporations who own real estate franchises.

Realtors won’t really need a brand — Zillow will be the brand.

With Zillow-Trulia getting all the eyeballs, and realtors on the receiving end of those leads, Z-T would be smart to cater to the top producers. The momentum would shift rapidly as success stories appear on Zillow ads too.

I’ve been paying about $500 a month to each of the three portals. no calls or leads. unqualified leads. Listings get high traffic early, and I get calls looking for an agent in the area. It’s the kind of results that realtors want, and I’m already convinced that I can reach the consumers and sell homes using Zillow only.

The future is here, but I’m not sure it will get cheaper.

Yesterday, a Zillow rep called to offer me some exposure in another local ZIP code that was about the same as I already have. I pay $550 a month now, and the new but similar package offered $850 a month.

Zillow might keep the cost of commissions right where they are.

Author: Luke Buchanan

Luke McKinley delivers in-depth, local knowledge regarding NW Washington neighborhoods. Luke is proficient in relative-valuation and formerly worked as a strategist for an advertising firm in Santa Monica. If you wish to learn more about your home's worth, please call or email to schedule a free real estate consultation today. You may also visit Luke Buchanan's blog or Facebook, to find additional information that may further guide your real estate decisions. Hobbies include: golf, grilling, image editing, photography, running, skiing, tennis, travel and yoga

2 thoughts on “The Zillow-Trulia Merger Could Radically Reduce America’s Realtor Population – but I doubt it!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s