Are Zillow, Trulia, and the like, a bunch of thieves???
There is a new battle being waged in real estate over whether listing syndication websites such as Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com (which has nothing to do with the National Association of REALTORS by the way) are good for consumers and the real estate industry.
This question was brought up in a real estate technology forum that I am a part of earlier this week. Most of the brokers in the room, including myself, agreed that anything that aids in promoting our client’s listings and makes information more available to buyers is a good thing. One of the higher ups in our technology company said that that there was momentum building nationally for brokerages to start pulling their listings from these aggregate sites.
Since then I’ve a come across a couple of videos that as far as I can tell lay both sides general assertions. To be honest, I’m not crazy about either of the personalities in these videos. Mr. Abbott seems to be fear-mongoring, while Mr. Glick is a little condescending . That being said, there are fair points coming from both sides.
Here’s Jim Abbott’s spiel:
Here’s Fred Glick’s rebuttal:
I currently support the continued supply of information to the syndicates simply because the other point of view seems more self-protective than based in concern for the public.
However, Mr. Abbott’s points about the absense of regulation are valid. Real Estate Brokerages are highly regulated to protect the public. We answer to Federal & State law, as well as self-imposed rules through our local multiple listing services. Though listing syndicates must comply with fair housing law they explicitly avoid membership in MLS communities to avoid the complicated series of rules brokerages must abide by. Those rules are important. Many were birthed out of lawsuits that occured due to the lack of regulation in specific parts of our industry. The public has been greatly protected due to the implementation of these rules and practices.
Mr. Abbott took an extreme stance in that his brokerage pulled all of their information from these sites.
I believe in a more reasonable solution. In a nutshell, I think we would all be better served to work with these sydicates in creating a series of guidlelines (much less cumbersome than MLS rules since they aren’t actually practicing real estate) to ensure the accuracy and proper use of our data. The syndicates need our information to make their sites viable and should be willing to work with brokerages on improving the presentation of that information. There’s a lot that would need to be worked out but essentially it would be the best of both worlds in that we would keep information free on the web for buyers and sellers while ensureing its accuracy.
This issue is heating up and I’d love to know where the general public stands on it. Chime in if you have something to say!