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Zillow + Trulia: Why It is NOT the End for Agents

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Zillow + Trulia: Why it is NOT the End for Agents | Keeping Current Matters

Our founder, Steve Harney, occasionally asks to do a personal post on what he sees as important to our industry. Today is one of those days. Enjoy! – The KCM Crew

Yesterday, Zillow announced the acquisition of Trulia. Some industry experts are predicting the end of the real estate business as we know it. They used words like “checkmate” and “kill shot”. Though we agree that aspects of the industry will be forced to evolve perhaps quicker than they had hoped, we believe this will be an evolution...not a revolution. No one needs to die.


Will companies and agents need to massage the way they do business? We think so. Marc Davison, the co-founder of 1000WATT Consulting, put it best when he explained that companies needed to:

“…focus on brand marketing, content marketing, data-driven advertising and other more intelligent means of engaging homebuyers and sellers.”

Sites like Zillow/Trulia give the consumer the dots (data) of real estate. Like Davison, we believe the consumer needs the real estate professional to ‘connect those dots’.

I did not have to go far to find anecdotal evidence proving this hypothesis. I just needed to look at my own family.

Massapequa, New York

Five years ago, my older son and his wife bought their first home. They found that home on Zillow and told their agent, "this is the home we'd like to live in”. The agent helped them decide on a target price. She helped them negotiate that price with the seller. She found the industry professionals they needed and coordinated the inspections, the walk-throughs and the appraisal. She helped them work with an attorney and a mortgage professional.

She was their agent and represented them throughout the entire purchasing process. She made sure that they were confident and comfortable at every stage.

They found the house online; that was the easy part. They needed an agent to help them with the hard part: actually getting the house without headaches or stress. My son and his wife truly believe she was worth every penny of her commission.

South Beach, Miami

Two years ago, my wife and I were thinking about buying a winter residence in South Beach. Every day, my wife searched the listing portals for condos for sale. We got a really good feel for South Beach and even picked out a few buildings we liked. However, even though I have been in the industry for over 30 years, we called a real estate agent who specialized in South Beach.

She explained to us how the fiscal responsibility of each building’s board would impact future “special assessments” (something we hadn’t even considered). She explained how proposed new construction might impact the ocean views of certain properties. She helped us find the perfect spot and guided us through the entire buying process.

The nights my wife and I spend eating dinner on our balcony overlooking the ocean would not have been possible without our agent.

Meadville, Pennsylvania

Just this month, my younger son got his dream job; coaching women’s basketball at the collegiate level. It required him to relocate out of state. He needed a twelve month rental. He searched Zillow, Trulia and Craig’s List. He got a feel for the types of units available and the rental costs. But when it came down to it, a local real estate agent named Vic Kress found my son a great place in a sensational building in a perfect location. My son is signing the lease today.

Just the other day, when someone questioned my son on how difficult it was to find a place so far away in such a short period of time, he answered:

“I have a guy down there that is looking out for me.”

That’s what real estate professionals do. They ‘look out for’ their customers and help them through the process.


Technology has definitely given consumers easier access to information about the housing industry.

However, we believe that buyers and sellers need more than just information. They need an analysis of how that information impacts their family. Every family should feel confident when buying or selling a home. Real estate agents must reach out to these families and simply & effectively explain a complex housing market to them.

That is what will guarantee their existence.

For more on the concept of how real estate is evolving, download our eGuide, Unlocking the Secrets of Real Estate’s New Market Reality.


About Steve Harney

Steve Harney is a residential real estate expert who specializes in market trends and authors a monthly informational presentation for top real estate professionals titled, "Keeping Current Matters" (KCM). Steve is often quoted in major news sources such as The U.S. News & World Report, MSN Money, The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times. He has received the great honor of being recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Leaders in Real Estate by Inman News and one of the 200 Most Powerful People in Residential Real Estate by the Swanepoel Organization.

9 Responses to “Zillow + Trulia: Why It is NOT the End for Agents”

  1. Eileen Knode July 29, 2014 at 2:54 pm # Reply

    Applause, applause, applause!

  2. Michael July 31, 2014 at 2:08 pm # Reply

    Great article! I have a few friends who have either bought houses recently or who are in the process, and nothing replaces the efforts of a competent real estate agent!

  3. August 3, 2014 at 7:01 pm # Reply

    Real Estate Professional’s will always be valuable to Buyer’s and Seller’s. Finding the property is the easy part. A monkey can do it! However, a typical consumer will need guidance through the buy/sell process and translating market activity. Why? Because real estate is not their specialty. They buy/sell every 5-7 years on average. I eat, breath and sleep real estate!

  4. Albert Clark August 5, 2014 at 12:06 pm # Reply

    Steve, we see a vast opportunity to have brokers educate agents on the merits of building relationships.. before the consumer builds an allegiance with Z or T or

    I am talking a pipeline of current clients and prospects that can nurtured, grown and protected. 7 out of 10 agents we are in front of do not even have a database. We have to build one for them. The system will work if there is top down involvement and the tools the agents are given are relevant.

    My 2c
    Al Clark, HomeActions

  5. Joan Denaro August 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm # Reply

    Well spoken! I could not agree more! We do connect the dots:)

  6. Barb Avery August 5, 2014 at 2:25 pm # Reply

    It is too sad that a good company like Trulia is even getting involved with Zillow, which needs constant explaining to my customers, espec. re pricing accuracy.
    These sites that post OUR listings within their own specific parameters, are doing all sellers a disservice with their version of accuracy. This is making my personal referral business that much easier, as our local papers talk constantly about the confusion in sq.feet,room sizes, upgrades, garages, etc.etc.

  7. Sheila Barr August 5, 2014 at 4:47 pm # Reply

    As always, Steve provides “data” to back up his assertions. Had I relied solely on the Zestimate for my home when selling in July 2013, I’d probably still be on the market. Instead, I analyzed the data provided by my Realtor, priced aggressively and sold quickly. On the other hand, if they buyer had relied on the Zestimate, I’d have made an additional $80K on the sale! One year later, with the sold data on the books, the Zestimate is still $50K too high.

  8. Tina Gleisner August 6, 2014 at 10:02 am # Reply

    Steve, I couldn’t agree more as I’m personally going through the buying process again (house #14) and you absolutely need a team of professionals to help you. They know how to interpret the local market as you’ve explained … and for me, what’s fascinating has been the move to put all communication & signatures (except closing which still needs a “wet” signature) online, which older buyers may need help with.

  9. October 23, 2015 at 9:31 am # Reply

    This was a real good read!

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