Apparently that business model isn't generating the desired profit level, and there's now a greater focus on getting more agents to work with Zillow and pay for advertising there. Zillow charges agents for exposure next to listings in their market areas. In an effort to woo more agents, Zillow has purchased Buyfolio, a company that provides services to help consumers and agents to collaborate on transactions. One expectation is that more agents with closer cooperation will improve the timeliness and accuracy of Zillow's data.
On that data accuracy note, we get to the NY Times article discussing a study commissioned by Refin that compared listing data accuracy at Trulia and Zillow with that of Redfin and the large regional brokerage, Windermere. 6401 home listings in 33 Zip Codes in 11 metropolitan areas were sampled. The results showed that:
- 100% of current listings were present on Redfin and Windermere sites.
- Trulia had 81 percent of listings.
- Zillow had 79 percent of listings.
- 36% of Zillow listings were shown active but were no longer for sale.
- The same was true for 37% of Trulia listings.
- 0.1% of Redfin listings and 1.7% of Windermere listings were no longer for sale./li>
Sure, there's bias on the part of Redfin in underwriting this study, but the results clearly show that the local MLS data, available to Redfin and Windermere but not to Zillow and Trulia, is far superior in accuracy and timeliness. So, why aren't we as real estate professionals educating the consumer to that fact, strongly marketing it, and bringing those searchers to our sites and away from the big sites?
Instead, agents pay for a rotating presence in their market areas on Zillow and Trulia, catching leads from consumers who don't know any better. I know when I paid for this advertising, almost half of the inquiries were on listings that no longer were for sale. Sure, I got to communicate with a potential buyer, but after telling them that the home of interest wasn't for sale, I was starting off a little behind the curve.
And, we're not going to leave Realtor.com out of this discussion. An article on a TV station site in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area discusses Edina Realty's decision to remove thousands of listings from Realtor.com due to stated inaccuracies and other problems. Other local and regional MLSs have done the same. Realtor.com, using the Realtor logo but no longer owned by NAR, charges agents and brokerages for advertising next to listings also. Edina stated that one problem was agent ads showing up next to listings not in their area or not for sale.
All of those pesky rules and time deadlines for submitting listings, reporting changes and reporting contracts and sales are important, as they make the local MLS the most accurate and comprehensive real estate listing resource available. We should be aggressive in getting that information out, blog about it, run ads, and educate the consumer as to where the accurate data is located.
Every time I get an email or other request for information about a listing someone saw on one of these big-three sites, I send them a great response to their question, but also a short explanation of what they're NOT seeing on those sites, and also what they ARE seeing that's not real. I give them a link to my IDX search page and make a convert out of them.