Circa 2007, Zillow began using broker listings to attract buyers. They were good at it. Brokers, desperate to publicize their listings sent them to Zillow free of charge. Zillow – “a tech company” used what was given to them by the brokers to create value to the consumer. Realtor.com, once a groundbreaking titan of the industry, couldn’t keep up with the technology curve and further anchored by NAR, couldn’t move fast enough.
The Market Turns
As the market heated up in 2014, Move.com (owner of Realtor.com) was purchased by Rupert Murdoch. Enter “Listhub”. Listhub is owned by Move.com, which is the central point from which listings would weave their way to the internet – to sites like Zillow.com and Realtor.com. Why would Move.com, owner of Listhub “give” its largest competitor the raw materials (listings) it needed when the raw material was the same exact thing Realtor.com needed. Thus, Zillow and Listhub went through an ugly divorce.
Turns out, Brokers are good at selling real estate but not good at technology. Zillow aggressively went directly to the MLS organizations for listing feeds, and Realtor.com began its transformation. The industry was more than happy to outsource the technology of interent promotion of listings to others. Little did they know, they let the camel get its nose in the tent. Since then a paradigm shift has occured in real estate marketing. The technology companies now take full advantage of the industries lack of understanding. This is all done under the guise of "we are here to help you" when in reality - they are only in it for themselves.
Realtor.com and "Your Listing, Your Lead"
Realtor.com’s currency over the years, and their mantra was “Your Listing, Your Lead”. My, how times have changed. Today, Realtor.com receives as a matter of course the listing inventory from virtually every MLS in the country – free of charge. Listings are the raw material Realtor.com needs to make their product. That is akin to a tire company not having to pay for rubber. “Your listing, Your lead” lingers in the minds of Realtors(TM), but Realtor.com has placed that mantra in their rear view mirror. It only remains in the minds of Realtors(TM). A fact they know remains, and are happy to exploit.
How it Really Works
Simply put, Realtor.com aggregates all of the listings – for free – then approaches brokers throughout the country and tells them “Look – if you pay us $X,000 per month, we will send you your leads. If you don’t, we will put them up for auction and sell them to someone else”. Déjà vu all over again…
The Current State
Realtor.com has changed. It is not the Realtor.com that Realtors(TM) have known. It is now a technology company using broker listings to generate revenue, and doing so in similar fashion as the Zillow’s of the world. Realtor.com has co-opted the normal process of filling out a request form, and uses it to insert misleading pop-ups in order to generate additional leads to multiple real estate agents in which to sell to the highest bidder. Essentilly, the user sends a request to the intended agent, and then if they are not exceedingly careful and thorough in reading disclaimers, generates other leads to other agents.
A Detailed, Real Life Example That You Would Never Expect
For those of you who are interested in knowing exactly what Realtor.com is doing, I've prepared a "white paper" that explains the process by actual example that can be downloaded HERE (a PDF will download to your device). I invite you to share this document with anyone who has an interest in how Realtor.com is changing. In summary, Realtor.com, is simply become another sophisticated player taking advantage of unsophisticated participants.
Is there full disclosure? You be the judge. Link to White Paper