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There’s always something to howl about

BOHICA…and this time it is Trulia

BOHICA

I received an email from a friend this morning…the essence of it was that Trulia is now “offering” us REALTORS the opportunity to enhance our listings for a modest fee…and I started preparing to post almost immediately. Then I noticed Bramlett had beaten me to the punch.
As Bramlett correctly pointed out, we saw it coming. (That’s nothing to brag on…Heck, Ray Charles could have seen it coming.) They (Trulia) are a business after all and sooner or later, we REALTORS who have given Trulia those listings were destined to become Russell’s pencil sharpener. I even commented on his post about it. I am actually sad to be right.

Mind you, I am not mad at Trulia. They are in business to make money and God bless them for it. I DO have an issue with a real estate community that turns a blind eye or simply doesn’t see the same pitch coming that it got hit with a few years back. What’s the saying about fool me once?
Same stuff different day.

Bend over. Here it comes again. BOHICA.
Another way to lighten your wallet as REALTORS. Another interloper doing what we can and should do for ourselves. In my opinion, people in the end do not care whether the real estate site they are searching on is national or local. They want it complete. As many local listings as possible and as much information and photos as possible are the ticket. We are providing that as REALTORS in spades in most locations. IDX does provide that, especially in the hands of skilled webmasters who do not require registration to view listings. We can do everything that they can do and do it with local relevance and intimate knowledge of our markets…When combined with microfocused niche blogs (or hyperlocals…) we can provide AMAZING amounts of information to potential clients. With an ever expanding internet mindshare, that’s more important than ever.
Can we at least on a local level (and it CAN IMO vary from location to location) agree to only provide listings where it is well and truly warranted by true market presence.

Everytime we provide our listings to ABC Bot, Inc. or XYZ interloper, Inc. (where they do not have a significant presence in the market) we are providing our BEST site content to them for use where they WILL (eventually) charge us for it.

Yes, I like Trulia’s ideas and platform much better than R.com…and their pricing (at least for now…)..is not offensive (again…yet). I really think they are creative and talented. My problem is with them charging us for our own stuff after we’ve provided them the listings in the first place.

If we do not draw the line somewhere, then we end up in the same position (pun intended) as the Iowa State cow…or Russell’s pencil sharpener…no fun in my book.

Related posts:
  • Podcast interview with Trulia.com’s Heather Fernandez: “Real estate professionals are going to be able connect directly with consumers”
  • Let’s Play the Trulia Valuation Game! Prizes to the Winner!
  • Number1Expert Re-Launches as Number2Expert

  • 48 comments

    48 Comments so far

    1. Todd Carpenter November 27th, 2007 5:29 pm

      I think the market would be a better place if that seventy odd percent of all folks who start their search for a new home on the net did so, with search engines like Google, or Yahoo.

      I’ve had readers ask me why I don’t provide training on the best ways to buy leads. My answer is that you should try to find ways to COMPETE with the lead generators, not fund them.

    2. Ryan Ward November 27th, 2007 5:39 pm

      Nice post Eric and I couldn’t agree more. I saw the email last night and I immediately wrote a post about it. People like you and I have been trying to beat this through the heads of agents for some time now. Sadly, when I started working with my current company, they touted and bragged about the great deal they made with Trulia at the corporate level as a reason to be work for them.

      The bottom line to all of this is simply that consumers are the ones who are hurt by third party listing site in the end. We simply cannot continue to pay outside companies to do our jobs (market homes) for us and expect to stay relevant – or at least not charge higher commissions to offset increased marketing costs as these sites continue to rise in the search engines.

    3. Marlow Harris November 27th, 2007 6:03 pm

      I also think it’s a mistake to give our listings away to third-party sites.

      Realogy is partnering up and giving away their product, even while it dilutes their own strength.

      http://www.Windermere.com is a huge company in the West, spanning 10 states, and it not only does not feed Trulia, they don’t even allow their listings on Realtor.com and rather than suffering for it, are actually seeing their brand grow even stronger.

    4. Brian Brady November 27th, 2007 6:28 pm

      I thought Zillow was going to go that route; that’s why I cautioned against them last year. I thought Trulia was the Realtor friendly model. Zillow’s a TV set, designed to sell advertising. Trulia ended up being the lead gen model.

      Whew, I was wrong on that one.

    5. Scott Cowan November 27th, 2007 7:19 pm

      Marlow,

      If I am not mistaken the NWMLS has stopped feeding Realtor.com It is up to the individual brokerages to decide if they want to send their listings to Realtor.com I do not think it is just Windermere that has stopped feeding the listings.

    6. Jay Thompson November 27th, 2007 7:25 pm

      Perhaps I’m the lone voice of dissension. I want my listings as many places as they can be. I don’t see these “listing sites” going anywhere anytime soon. I suppose that could be taken as “if you can’t beat them, join them”. So be it. They are here, people are looking at them, so they might as well see my listings.

      Trulia isn’t really offering “enhanced” listings ala realtor.com. All they do if you pay is put your listing at the top of a list. It’s not rocket science to know something at the top of a list gets more views than something further down. Look at Craigs List… You can still “list” there for free.

      My MLS (currently) offers a whopping six photo maximum (and tiny photos at that) and three lines of descriptive text. It’s a horrible marketing platform (and I could argue that the MLS wasn’t ever designed to be a marketing platform. Brokerage cooperation and all that…)

      I could boycott these listing sites on principal. But trying to explain that principal to a seller that wants their home showing everywhere would be tricky, no?

    7. Marlow Harris November 27th, 2007 7:37 pm

      Right. But Realogy (Coldwell Banker, Century 21, etc) in Seattle is still sending in their listings to Realtor.com via separate feed.

      The point is, you don’t have to give away your listings to be successful.

      By purposely NOT putting their listings on Realtor.com, this has contributed to making themselves the largest and most successful company in the Pacific Northwest and they’re expanding, now into 10 Western states.

    8. Ryan Ward November 27th, 2007 7:42 pm

      Jay,

      Don’t feel bad, there’s always one person who chimes in on blog posts like this with your viewpoint. My contention is that this is bad for the consumer, not for us as agents. List your home where you want, but, I contend that they are our competition, not our friends who are here to help get our listings sold. In the end, if all of these sites rise above people like me and Eric and the many other web savvy agents in the search engines, we would be forced to use them and that would cost us more money which would then cost sellers more money which would then cost buyers more money…Get it?

      Why don’t you treat them like the competition that they are and smack them down a few spots in the SERPS by passing them with your own website? Then you will be able to TRULY look a seller in the face and say “I can outmarket the competition” and mean it.

    9. Benn November 27th, 2007 8:51 pm

      Realtors cannot help themselves, agents even feed the information machine, building their (trulia, zillow) relivance- they should be paying you for your knowledge, not the other way around. Just stop doing it. geeeze

    10. David G from Zillow.com November 28th, 2007 9:03 am

      Todd –

      Most people do start out with search engines online but since a search engine will never provide answers to their questions, their next stop is usually the media; a neutral source of information. No matter how helpful your blog is, it’s important to remember that as a RE Pro, you will never be considered a neutral source by consumers. Think about it; when you’re in the early stages of buying a car, do you pick up a few magazines and read reviews online or do you just drive to the nearest dealer and ask them what car they think you should drive? In all consumer products and services, the media plays a vital role in introducing consumers to vendors. This is why partnering with a media brand that consumers love is so important – it allows you to reach prospective clients long before they’re at the stage that they come looking for you.

      Benn –

      Zillow was a household name in much of the country long before a single listing was ever posted on the site. That’s a massive differentiator when comparing Zillow to pure-play listings aggregators.

      Brian –

      Thanks for saying so.

    11. Kris Berg November 28th, 2007 9:08 am

      The horse is out of the barn, I’m afraid. Our value is no longer in our “ownership” of our MLS. It is no longer (functionally) proprietary. IDX arrangements sealed this deal.

      The perception of our role is changing, if not our role indeed. In the long run, while it will likely result in restructuring of our traditional compensation model, I think it will be a very good thing for our profession. It will force us to demonstrate our value in terms of our skills and experience, not just in terms of being a conduit to the inventory. Shouldn’t it have always been so?

    12. Ryan Ward November 28th, 2007 9:15 am

      David G.,

      What accurate neutral information does z provide to consumers?

      I also think that your premise is incorrect that search engines do not provide answers to questions. They certainly are the conduit by which consumers find the answers. So, the question then becomes where do they get ACCURATE answers. If it’s answers consumers want, I am quite confident that I can do a better job than the media and broad re sites for anything related to my real estate market.

    13. Eric Blackwell November 28th, 2007 9:37 am

      @Kris–

      I respect your thinking and I think in your market you may be correct (I don’t claim to know or profess to be correct). I do not think that is the case for Louisville. I also have seen solid evidence for that over MANY areas of the country…and I have looked at more than a few…I would just hope that folks make that decision LOCALLY and not NATIONALLY.

      My position is that the vast majority of people start their search via the search engines. Since the major third party folks out there will not provide publicly their LOCAL traffic figures so that one can evaluate their claims of market penetration, the only way IMO to determine whether the horse is trulia out of the barn is search engine rankings? (grin)

      I trulia wish they would provide that info and then I would encourage REALTORS to make a case by case evaluation using their LOCAL market situation as a guide.

      Let’s take Atlanta (since it is a major city) as an example. Can anyone here provide for me the business case (in terms of REAL exposure) why someone should post listings on a third party site there?

      If they don’t have traffic to their site, why should we provide them the listings? Do we owe it to the client to list their home on a site that is not viewed?

      I am not 100% against bots…But let me explain it a little differently…

      We are in the business of telling people that it is a good thing to OWN a home. When we give third parties our data, we are essentially giving them an asset (in my view) that they will eventually charge us rent for…

      I tend to avoid that scenario when I can.

    14. Marlow Harris November 28th, 2007 9:55 am

      I do not resent having to buy advertising. That is a legitimate business expense.

      The difference between Trulia and Zillow is that Z has spent millions of bucks to aggregate data from 100′s of sources to at least TRY to provide something of value to homebuyers/sellers, to attract their attention, and that value is a ballpark price for their home.

      Trulia’s first goal is to provide listings. My listings, your listings. Only later have they been trying to add other items of interest. The value they’re trying to provide is the same value I’m trying to provide, using my own material.

      Zillow would survive without our listings, they have already spent the dough to compile info on every property where it’s possible to do so. Trulia, on the other hand, survives BECAUSE of our listings. They are not a stand-alone site like Z.

      Zillow is more like eye-candy for a homeowner. It’s not really my competition, it’s more like an advertising vehicle for real estate workers, at this point.

      However, Z. is changing now, like a chameleon…we shall see what color it becomes……

    15. Benn November 28th, 2007 9:55 am

      David, are you taking credit for local agent input – fact to affirm or discredit the information consumers digest on Zillow?

      Consumers may believe they know something about something, but they know the part that influences thier thinking, personally- the simple difference between what a consumer in a forum can bring versus a local agent is the big picture. “yes, there is a new tollway coming there next spring, but here is why that is going to bring a strong swing upwards in your homes/areas value in 3-7 years.” We give the perspective- that is what should not be free to you or anyone else not willing to pay for that knowledge.

      Most agents can bring to the table not only the future of what will happen in a cycle, but they also bring to the table the past- based on strong market evidence. A consumer who lives in a house in a neighborhood of 1000 homes has a perspective of their front yard- I’m looking at the 1000 homes as well as the 10,000 that surround it. The bottom line is consumers will never be able to randomly get that with a google search- but they can by paying me, and so can you.

    16. Jay Thompson November 28th, 2007 10:21 am

      Ryan wrote:

      “In the end, if all of these sites rise above people like me and Eric and the many other web savvy agents in the search engines”

      . . .

      Why don’t you treat them like the competition that they are and smack them down a few spots in the SERPS by passing them with your own website? Then you will be able to TRULY look a seller in the face and say “I can outmarket the competition” and mean it.”

      I’m pretty web savvy myself Ryan. My site and blog do OK in SERPs. And I truly demonstrate that to many clients.

      The fact remains, these sites are out there, and people are aware of them and looking at them.

      “Don’t feel bad, there’s always one person who chimes in on blog posts like this with your viewpoint.”

      I don’t feel bad. At all.

    17. Greg Swann November 28th, 2007 10:31 am

      > “Don’t feel bad, there’s always one person who chimes in on blog posts like this with your viewpoint.”

      More than one, by at least one. Rear guard actions always fail. Suppression of information doesn’t even work in a police state. The Realtor’s past pseudo-monopoly on information was an artifact of economic inefficiency. It’s gone, and we should get over it. We will not hold our clients hostage. We can, however, send them off to other vendors, whom they will trust more to tell them the whole truth.

    18. David G from Zillow.com November 28th, 2007 10:37 am

      Ryan –

      I agree with you that consumers ultimately get the best specific answers to specific questions directly from a real estate pro who understands their needs and the local market – but they also don’t start their search with specific questions in mind.

      What I’m talking about is marketing to consumers who have yet to develop specific questions about specific homes – the phase before they have selected a professional that they trust. In the early stage of a home search, many consumers are just browsing and they’re information hungry. During that early phase, consumers typically do a broad search for general information and seek multiple opinions. In this phase, the media plays an important role as an neutral aggregator of both opinion and information.

      To answer your specific question; on Zillow, consumers have access to feedback from multiple professionals and to the opinions and experiences of many other buyers and sellers (possibly the least biased and most trusted initial source of information.) They have instant, free access to neutral information that you typically won’t find on a listing agent’s website (like past sales histories, tax assessments, aerial images and public records for every home) and of course, there’s the Zestimate; a neutral opinion of the value of every home. They have instant access to the Zindex for every Zip, City and State which provides neutral insights into local home value trends. But mostly, I think the reason consumers start their search on Zillow is because they can get multiple opinions in one place before they select a single trusted adviser to answer their specific questions.

      Marlow –

      Glad to hear it.

      Benn –

      Sorry but I don’t think I understand your question. Read my response to Ryan; the media is complimentary, not competitive to the relationship between consumers and their agents.

    19. Ryan Ward November 28th, 2007 11:00 am

      Greg,

      I suppose I should have said “at least one”. I’m not looking to suppress anything. Simply offering my opinion and experience. I am of the opinion that third party listing sites hurt the consumer by driving up marketing costs. Simple as that. Good on them for trying to get a piece of the pie. I just don’t want them to succeed.

      David,

      I just want people to realize that complimentary should be used loosely with regards to the media. There are many instances where it is in fact, far less than comlimentary. Same goes for the trusted sources of other buyers and sellers – sure, it’s nice to have, but, it’s like buying a Canon SLR because you read the reviews of knuckleheads like myself who go out and buy something:-) I would not consider myself someone who’s opinion is as valuable as an expert opinion on the subject.

      I’m not opposed to these services existing. I just believe there are more effective methods.

      Jay,

      I understand your position. I just don’t feel like they are geniuinely adding value. It’s not my job to list a home for sale everywhere. It’s my job to utilize my knowledge and expertise to list and market homes effectively. To that end, and in the spirit of protecting costs to consumers that I wish more local agents and brokers understood the value of internet marketing better so that there was no way these sites could be relevant.

    20. Kris Berg November 28th, 2007 11:20 am

      >More than one, by at least one.

      Don’t I make a crowd? I thought I said the same thing, but it always sounds better coming from Greg. :)

    21. Eric Blackwell November 28th, 2007 11:56 am

      Kris–

      You are SSOOOO much more than a crowd…You are beautiful and eloquent, two properties which I would never associate with a crowd–on either side of this opinion-fence :-) Ooopps! Sorry Greg-you’re eloquent, but Kris is better looking! (hehe…)

      Greg–

      The hurdle that I have tried hard to get over intellectually is the traffic hurdle. If a site has proven local traffic AND presents it in a TRULY enhanced way then that consitutes a true value proposition and I would be negligent NOT to get that exposure for my clients. Even paying for it under those circumstances is OK if the traffic warrants it. As someone said above, that is simply an advertising decision.

      My concern is that for MUCH of the nation, that is not true. My ethical question for the day has been–Am I supressing data if I don’t give it to a site that is not getting any (or negligible) locally bound traffic? I do not want whatsoever to suppress data, but I don’t feel obligated to offer our listings to sites that have (locally) less than significant mindshare at all and (once again)I do think that this can vary from location to location.

      Can you help me think that one through?

      FTR- I respect both sides of this discussion. I didn’t mean to bring another gas can and matches here–grin. I would hope that this is just an honest discussion and that there is no offense given nor taken.

    22. Jay Thompson November 28th, 2007 12:52 pm

      “I am of the opinion that third party listing sites hurt the consumer by driving up marketing costs.”

      Hmmm. I syndicate my listings to 19 third party listing web sites (including Trulia and Zillow. 20 if you count realtor.com and 21 if you count c21.com) and it doesn’t cost me a nickle. Hence it costs my clients nothing either.

      Actually, they tend to save money because our on-line marketing costs are far lower than other, “more traditional” marketing techniques.

      How exactly do on-line marketing sites drive up marketing costs?? I don’t get it.

      “It’s not my job to list a home for sale everywhere. It’s my job to utilize my knowledge and expertise to list and market homes effectively.”

      It’s my job to sell the home. Part of that includes marketing it to as wide an audience as possible. It only takes one person to visit a third party listing site to become a buyer.

      Would I rather every buyer find listings on my own site as opposed to some third party site? Sure. Is that realistic? Nope.

    23. Ryan Ward November 28th, 2007 1:12 pm

      Jay,

      I don’t think I made myself quite as clear as I should have. Let’s take a look at what is happening and see if I can’t make the signs more clear. For the record, I place my listings on places that drive traffic, but, there are literally hundreds of web portals seeking these listings and it isn’t feesible to use all of them. I’m using roughly the same number of services that you are.

      homes.com charges money to list, trulia has begun to charge and there are others. By providing third party sites our listings, we are giving them the very information that they will then ask us to buy back from them. The more sites like these are made relevant, the more they can force our hand to use them to market our homes. This will lead to more sites like the ones that already exist because it will be a proven business model. So as they become stronger, they can essentially wedge themselves in between you and your listing and force you to pay them to market your listing there because they drive traffic.

      They are an interloping, non essential wedge and beginning to cost agents and brokers money to list homes for sale. I think that it is important that you, me and everyone else understands that by letting one in we let more in and I definitely see a trend here. That trend indicates that it will begin to cost more money to market homes on more sites as they become relevant when they should never have been to begin with.

      I’m not arguing that the cat is in or out of the bag or any of that. I am saying that every time you give them your listing, you are in fact furthering their effort which will lead to them becoming a pay to list service that will cost you more money. That will cost consumers more money.

      Hey, I could be wrong. Maybe they are just in it for the goodness of their heart. Somehow I doubt that their investors see it that way.

    24. Jay Thompson November 28th, 2007 1:13 pm

      This –> How exactly do on-line marketing sites drive up marketing costs??

      Should read –> How exactly do on-line listing sites drive up marketing costs??

    25. Jay Thompson November 28th, 2007 1:23 pm

      OK, so how do you propose stopping them? A grass-roots effort to get agents to not use them? Good luck with that.

      Take a stance along, “I won’t use them because they are wrong” and you’ll be trampled by those that do.

      Of course you can’t submit listings to every site out there. I suspect many of those sites will wither away as the big dogs blow them out of the water.

      There are many people out there that feel they have to pay for enhanced listings on Realtor.com.

      I never have and seem to have no problem getting listings sold (for the most part :) ).

      I contend that there will always be free versions of these sites — or at least free “levels” of these sites. I don’t plan on giving any of them my money. Maybe that’s foolish thinking on my part, only time will tell.

      The bottom line, for me, is I feel that while listings are an asset, it isn’t the most important asset I have. My skill and expertise is a far greater asset.

      And no web site can replace me. At least not until it learns to drink :)

    26. Ryan Ward November 28th, 2007 1:25 pm

      They don’t until they become relevant enough that you feel compelled to pay them to list homes because they are effective. They become effective because we give them, at first for free our listings. Once they are effective, we have an obligation to use them, thus costing us more money, which will cost consumers more money. That’s why I say that they wedge themselves in and create a place that should not exist to begin with. It’s a brilliant marketing plan on their part. I just don’t feel that it is in the consumers interest in the long run.

    27. Ryan Ward November 28th, 2007 1:40 pm

      I would like to think I’m a solutions oriented person. Sadly, I don’t have one that I think would be effective here. I also agree with you about the “no website that can replace me”…

      I am working on a partial solution to counter the decision that the NAR made with regards to using “MLS”.

      I suppose that’s a related story as they can now force us to stop using mls while these sites we are talking about here can still use it.

    28. Mark Hendriks November 28th, 2007 1:45 pm

      I agree with Ryan wholeheartedly, I think the financial relief that technology has given us, by throwing out the overpriced traditional print ads, is in danger of being replaced by an online version of a “necessary” or “requested” advertising expense. When considering that we as Real Estate Agents are the ones who validated (providing validity by uploading our own listings)this brand in the first place only to ensnare ourselves with a former foe(print advertising expenses) that we thought we had eradicated with the advent of the internet.

      Also another isue I have is, instead of me just paying for an ad in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and maybe 2 other publications, How many websites will we have to then pay to advertise with. Instead of a high cpm in a traditional print ad at a high price(1x$2000), we could be setting ourselves up to pay multiple (20x$200) sites with unverifiable cpm’s.

    29. Jay Thompson November 28th, 2007 2:20 pm

      Maybe if we’re lucky this whole internet thing will just turn out to be a fad. Then we can go back to having MLS listings in a 3-ring binder that only agents have access to.

    30. David G from Zillow.com November 28th, 2007 2:55 pm

      Ryan –

      Sorry, I meant “complementary” not “complimentary” — though I don’t doubt that your services are worthy of compliment. :-)

      What you seem to miss is that there’s a period during a consumer’s search before they chose a professional to work with. I really don’t understand why you wouldn’t market to consumers in that phase. Fishing upstream is a critical part of most Realtors’ off-line marketing strategy; why wouldn’t you do it online? By all means, invest your online marketing effort where you see the most return; but there’s no good reason to ignore online marketing opportunities.

      Jay –

      LOL – That last comment put coke all over my monitor.

    31. Eric Bramlett November 28th, 2007 3:15 pm

      “What you seem to miss is that there’s a period during a consumer’s search before they chose a professional to work with. I really don’t understand why you wouldn’t market to consumers in that phase.”

      I have a blog coming on this…but the short of it is that we already do – through IDX…trust me, there’s absolutely no way you guys can compete with IDX, the public just doesn’t know it.

    32. retrove.com November 28th, 2007 3:46 pm

      Having read the above comments both pro & con I have an observation. I think the real issue has to do with the different threat level agents feel is based on their core business base. Most agents consider themselves either buyers agents or listing agents.

      Jay is probably a very strong listing agent. Jay is protected on getting paid for his services no matter who sells the listing because he negotiated and protected his compensation up-front via the listing agreement.

      This is why he seems to welcome these additional sources to market his listings. As an added benefit, the listings also generate buyer traffic directly to him, so no real worries.

      This is the same reason why large brokerages are not worried either and syndicating the data. They will get paid via listings because the cost is negotiated and disclosed. Just more free advertising for their listings / brand on which they will get paid on either way.

      While a traditional “buyers” agent (most often the newest agents), may feel a lot more threatened by these sites because they know the interested buyers will use them to find the listings and eventually T & Z may charge to sell back the interested buyers, ala “homegain”… which is probably true.

      Good listing agents have nothing to worry about, buyers agents who mask their services as being “free” to consumers will be in trouble.

      This release of information / listings will change the compensation model of real estate. Listing agents already know how to justify / sell their services for a fee. While buyers agents don’t because the listing agent already did the hard work of selling the cost for them. I know Greg has addressed this issue in the past and maybe he can find that post.

      This is the whole argument of IDX, NAR, DOJ, MLS, Redfin etc. It’s all about compensation, specifically the “buyers agents” compensation. This is where real change in real estate will happen.

      This is simply forcing everyone to learn how to charge for their services and unfortunately this learning curve will just be much steeper for buyers agents. Many will be forced out of the business financially if they don’t learn how to disclose, sell and charge for their services, either up-front, by the hour or via contract with the buyers they represent.

      This is why blogging for a buyers agents is a great tool because you can then demonstrate your local professional knowledge and people will seek and pay for a knowledgeable professional. Listings agents have signs and inventory which is the public display of their “knowledge”, it’s the social proof.

      The transparency in real estate is not with listings, it’s transparency in compensation. Maybe the real issue is many agents may not ready to justify how they get paid?

    33. Benn November 28th, 2007 9:50 pm

      retrove, that is just brilliant. I would have to add however that the incursion into real estate attacks from both the buyers and the listing side of the equation. I do agree though that the listing agent is much more practiced at defining their value.

    34. retrove.com November 29th, 2007 12:20 am

      @Benn,

      Thanks for the kind comment. The reality is that all of this is really just a transfer of marketing cost from one medium to another and not really an “incursion”.

      The cost of identifying a possible client is lower and more measurable now than it’s ever been, which is good for everyone. As an example, a free well-designed craigslist ad will easily generate more inquiries that 1000 4 color post cards that cost $400 which are sorted by the recipients over the trash can after work.

      Agents need to refine their own value proposition in the transaction. What’s important to agents is that this decrease in marketing cost and access to information is not associated by the public as a decreasing value of using an agent for a real estate transaction.

      I would suggest that agents should not depend on the NAR to change the publics’ perception. Especially when you look at their reasons why you should use an agent… http://www.realtor.com/basics/allabout/realtors/why.asp?poe=realtor

      As you can see from that list, many of the top reasons is exactly what some of these websites are providing for free directly to consumers.

    35. Russell Shaw November 29th, 2007 12:49 am

      The back and forth in the comments to this post are great (as is the post). But it seems everyone has overlooked a most important point. BOHICA. We have a useful and descriptive acronym that is new – at least to me. BOHICA. In my year here on BHB (I believe I was the original “extra Bloodhound”) I have not seen BOHICA used in any other post prior to this one. This is the first.

      BOHICA.

      I do have to disagree with Jay. I believe the internet is quite possibly here to stay and could even become important.

    36. Eric Bramlett November 29th, 2007 8:35 am

      @retrove – I think you’re missing the point that Blackwell, Ryan (and I, for that matter) are trying to make. It’s not about threat level at all…trust me, I drive an enormous amount of traffic (and leads) through my own marketing efforts (and I know that Ryan does, and Blackwell feeds an office of 120.) It’s about education…the Trulia & R.com featured listings have a horrible ROI. In another of Blackwell’s posts, he pointed out that you will see a better ROI by spending your money on a simple PPC campaign than by signing up for the R.com featured listings.

      The reason we’re so adamant about this is b/c it p***es us off that both sites tout their incredible traffic stats, but won’t get local (and we all know that real estate is local – right?) I absolutely HATE it when one of my sellers comes with the question, “why doesn’t my listing have more pictures on R.com?” Why? Because the IDX sites I have you on drive 100X the traffic that R.com does. “Why isn’t my listing on trulia, and zillow, and thrillow, and drulia, and yahoo real estate, and on, and on…” Why? Because those sites drive no local traffic.

      Show me the (local) traffic stats & I will stop griping!

    37. Eric Bramlett November 29th, 2007 9:18 am

      @retrove – I just read that r.com link you posted above. That is absolutely absurd. I can’t believe they have that posted.

    38. retrove.com November 29th, 2007 10:32 am

      @Eric,

      Actually, I think we both agree on the same thing. I indicated that you can measure your traffic more accurately now with internet marketing than in previous marketing channels.

      I agree that with a yahoo, msn or google campaign and for .40 a click you can target the exact intention of those who click on your ad with creative keyword selection and really studying your landing page and get a very high conversion rate. As I mentioned above, Craigslist is free.

      This T option caters to the traditional agent who has been taught to “brand” himself or herself, instead of marketing their services to show their value proposition in a real estate transaction.

      Look at traditional advertising used by the majority of agents. It’s pictures of them on everything. Remember old Walter Sanford advertising? Pictures of agents on big cars, with cell phones, saying hey look at me, I sold 1 million worth of real estate, leaving the consumer thinking they made 1 million in commissions. The majority of agents are still doing this.

      There is a big difference between marketing & branding and most agents don’t understand this. You guys are the exception that is why T pisses you off because this is obvious to you.

      Marketing is creating materials that will cause someone to identify himself or herself as someone who could use your services.

      T is simply trying to capitalize on this old trend that most real estate agents believe “branding” is marketing by offering this option. They know many agents will get on board and gladly pay $50 a month to see themselves and T needs to do this to raise income. So keep marketing your listings via feeds for free, just don’t pay to brand yourself and they won’t be a threat as they won’t be able to generate revenue.

    39. Eric Bramlett November 29th, 2007 1:11 pm

      You’re exactly right about marketing & branding. Really, I don’t care how many agents pay into Trulia or R.com – I’ve posted enough about its horrible ROI, and if agents choose to ignore that (and their own good sense,) I’m fine with it. What pisses me off is sellers who want to see the enhanced listing on R.com (and I’ll just wait for it for Trulia) and want my assistant to plug their listing into 50 different sites.

      I regularly post listings in Craigslist because it drives buyer traffic to the office (which proves that it is effective.) I abhor posting them elsewhere because there is no return on the time spent. It’s literally not worth the $10/hour that I pay to have them posted – that’s how sorry the sites are.

    40. retrove.com November 29th, 2007 2:01 pm

      I don’t think you can fault consumers for that request, they want their home sold, therefore it’s normal that they would demand that.

      Why don’t you simply set expectations for you clients upfront via your website?

      Create a nice page that details exactly what marketing you provide and your reasoning / experience for each item provided with testimonials from your customers on how each step help get their homes sold?

      Charge upfront for items you don’t want to do, via a menu of “additional” marketing services with small $ amount per item? This will subsidize your $10 hr cost of doing it and show the motivation / commitment of your clients.

      Transparency should create win/win.

    41. [...] If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed or sign up for Email Alerts. This blog tracks the real estate market in the Charlottesville, Virginia region, local politics, technology and other matters impacting the local real estate market. Thanks for visiting!Inspired by these two comments on the BHB, today I’m going to respond to/pick apart the National Association of Realtors’ Why use a Realtor? page. I hope that few consumers had read the referenced page on Realtor.com. Numbers two, nine and ten in particular jump out as being particularly wrong/offensive to me. [...]

    42. Eric Bramlett November 30th, 2007 9:31 am

      I definitely do set expectations up front – my listing presentation tells them exactly what I will do to sell their home. However, it doesn’t serve well to put a list of negatives, “here’s what I won’t” do, so I overcome those obstacles as their thrown at me. It just annoys me, that’s all. It’s very hard to explain the intricacies of SEM to a seller, and why it’s inefficient/ineffective to plug into 50 sites, and pay for enhanced listings.

      That….and I don’t like the way R.com portrays us. The site is archaic – with the money they have, they should be running (user experience) circles around Trulia & Zillow.

    43. [...] Trulia revenue model Published in December 3rd, 2007 Posted by ebryn in internet real estate marketing “Was anyone surprised with Trulia’s business model?,” wonders this post. For industry watchers? Not really. For real estate firms that willingly gave them their listings content? Not really (at least the 30+ firms I’ve spoken with). But then again Trulia repeats an earlier model: TV GUIDE. [...]

    44. [...] Recently, there has been much concern that many of these listing syndication/aggregators are actually using your data to make money off you. And if they aren’t today, they probably will tomorrow. [...]

    45. Pam Guthrie January 30th, 2008 3:16 pm

      I wish that Trulia would do what it says it will: … meaning, that it suggests to you that if you get a point2agent website, your listings will be fed into trulia. WRONG ! I pulled up a couple of my own personal listings and noticed that only 1 was being fed in from my point2agent website, while the others were being fed to Trulia from some OUTSIDE lead generating company with MY LISTINGS !! I have emailed Trulia several times concerning this. The outside lead generating company that is feeding my leads to Trulia is a member of our MLS. They are NOT salespeople. They are a magazine that sells ads to real estate agents. This magazine forwards my leads to the people that advertise in the magazine. I want Trulia to do what they say they will do and that is PULL MY LISTINGS INTO TRULIA from my point2agent website or follow the IDX link I gave them of which I pay each month to my MLS for. I gave Trulia the direct link from my MLS idx feed that gives them ALL MY LISTINGS. I have eight listings and Trulia only shows me being the agent for 1. This means that all interested parties obtaining additional information will be directed to this other Magazine and then the leads are disbursed out to their advertisers. YUK – WHAT A MESS – GET IT RIGHT TRULIA.

      http://PamGuthrie.com
      http://RealEstateForSaleinPawleysIsland.com

    46. [...] 31, 2008 by Dustin …worthy of a response from the Trulia team: I wish that Trulia would do what it says it will: … meaning, that it suggests to you that if you [...]

    47. rudy February 5th, 2008 9:38 am

      Hi Pam!

      I just spoke to one of our engineers and he told me the issue has been resolved. Hopefully all is good on your end too. Thanks again for bringing this issue to our attention. Trulia is constantly trying to improve the user experience for both consumers and agents.

      All the Best,

      Rudy
      Social Media Guru at Trulia

    48. Blogging is a stage : NAR Wisdom March 14th, 2008 6:49 pm

      [...] (and Zillow – see the comments) listened and fixed the problem. 2) When the problem was fixed, Trulia told the community. 3) The customer returned to the post and stated that the problem had been [...]