Two Sides of Zillow

The public embraced Zillow and Zillow gave the public liberty. Is that a pure example of a free-market success story? If you’re the consumer you know it is. The consumer is on Zillow’s side.

REALTORS were brought up in the cyber world to resent Zillow. The REALTORS had the first opportunity to be Zillow but they couldn’t comprehend a world where the public had access to information and where 1975 was no longer the future. They did what large associations are best at doing. They walked away and went home.

If the public wants something, you’re the biggest controller of that something and you don’t find a way to make money off of your stuff, you have no one to blame but yourself. Zillow knew what the Realtors must have known, if the Realtors were sharing their data with members, join them. Zillow aligned itself with Realtors, walked in, took what was free to them, gave it to the consumer and turned around and sold data to the Realtors…this is the data the realtors had but never mined.

I love Zillow. I love informed consumers. I love the fact that a potential client has access to the same information as me so they can do their research and maybe come to the same conclusion as me. Even more than that, I love Zillow for the opportunity they created for independent contractors to provide their brand of service to the consumer who wants what they have. More individuals are free to leave corporate ownership with their arcane rules and hefty fees. Zillow has given the independent REALTOR the liberty they desired. I’m on Zillow’s side right next to the consumer. Realtors are on the side opposed to Zillow. The peculiar thing is, most Realtors don’t know why they fear Zillow.


Standardized, Computerized, Personalized. The evolution of real estate.

We Skillshare to learn and adapt.  How recent was it when the value of our business was possession of a private data base of real estate for sale? Property was the commodity. Information in 1988 was only accurate up to two weeks earlier. Gradually computerization decentralized the data from one giant computer to the single shared machine in individual offices.

Data, the commodity of real estate, gradually moved closer to up to date. First  by the week, then to within a day.  The public wanted access to data. Our industry refused. was released. Consumers could peek at data. To get more they had to call us. We have always held a pay to play attitude toward the consumer. We have always been in the business of “capturing leads”. The consumer  did not accept The industry didn’t trust it. Realtors couldn’t figure out how to monetize the service. was a loser.

The rights to the platform and it’s operating brain were relinquished.  Zillow stepped up,  joined our organization, and quickly flipped the perspective. The value is not in the data we put into the brain, the value is in the data the brain collects.  Zillow delivered the service the public was eager to get.  Exclusive access to King Data was reduced to a day for the Realtor. Today it’s seconds, or maybe not. The public wants to be able to tell the consumer “Hey, I’m thinking about selling.”  We tell the public, decide and we will give you a platform to reach the consumers.  Zillow responds with “Make me move” and the public is given what they want. Again.

What do we do with members who share what they know to give a consumer an edge? We penalize them with punitive fines. Our value, we believe, is in cooperation for our mutual benefit. The value of delivering data for the benefit of the consumer is not only unrecognized, delivering data to the consumer is penalized. Standardization is demanded by us for us.  Zillow gives the consumer a computerized, personalized platform.

Consumers, not property, are the valuable commodity in the transaction. Zillow figured that out. We now pay Zillow to share their consumers who are interested in our property.  They realized monetizing was not in the ability of the brain of the computer to store and standardize data, it is in it’s ability to personalize, organize, and distribute data on people who are interested in owning what we’re selling. Zillow uses technology to deliver information to the consumer. In exchange the consumer would freely give what we demanded they share, their personal information.  Does the consumer trust Zillow? For good reason we are seeing consumers have every reason to not trust tech giants with their private data. And still, they do.

Our standardized data on real estate is given away.  We pay an outside firm to share the people they meet who are interested in our data (property). Our property is actually used to attract consumers who are sold to our competitors at a price we won’t pay to keep what we considered valuable: exclusive access to data.

Where is the uproar? It didn’t happen. Paying to play is now the norm.

in the early years of the 21st Century an idea to change real estate licensees from an agency model to a facilitator model.  The legal industry was in favor of turning us from agents to facilitators.  We feared the consumer would see less value (worth less in fees) in a facilitator than agent. We fought to remain agents.  Facilitating was left for computerization.  The public wants personalized facilitation. We want standardized agency.

We retain our right to fill in blanks of purchase contracts at the objection of the legal industry. To keep that right we require accuracy in the service. To be accurate we restrict our work to standardization. Fill in blanks, check boxes of standardized forms in an increasingly personalized business. Our profession is point and click.  We think we have value in our ability to explain a standardized form. In fact, 100% of computers have the ability to accurately explain the forms and they can do it better than 99% of the licensees. To top it off, computerizing the drafting and presenting of offers allows including real estate legal advice and interpretation.

Soon. Very soon ,computers will analyze, evaluate, and explain financial qualifications of the parties. They will interpret and summarize the commitment and intent of the buyer and seller.  The decision of which offer is the best offer for the seller can be done with present technology. To craft a better offer, the computer will personalize the contract to match the buyer and seller’s most important requirements.

The trait the computer excels at compared to humans, is the computer listens and understands the parties. No suggestion is made until the computer has received and processed the information from the consumer. Do we do that? Not well. We present and tell people what to do based on what we always do or only heard.

A computer is able to facilitate a transaction between the most ready, willing, able buyer, with the ready, willing, and able seller who has the property that best matches their desires.  Agency is not what the consumer wants from us. They want personalized facilitation. They want ideas to help them get their offer accepted in competition. They want a way to connect with the seller on a personal level. The seller’s want safety. They want to reduce their risk by getting into contracts with the most able, prepared, and committed buyer.

The future is bright for Realtors. The ones who learn, adapt, deliver to the consumer what the consumer demands will thrive as our industry moves from standardized to personalized. We can, if we want to, be the better facilitator. We can be better at  crafting personalized offers, eliminating risk, and facilitating smooth transaction. We  can meet this demand if we move from standardized and computerized, to personalized and computerized.

Agency they can get from attorneys. For now.