Corrected tweet: Active homes in 22901 zip: MLS – 334. Zillow – 317Trulia – 351. Realtor.com – 338. Who to trust? (hint: the MLS)
— Jim Duncan (@JimDuncan) May 31, 2012
I remember how in late 2008 I was so excited to finally be able to offer a great way to search for homes in Charlottesville. Real estate search was out there, but it wasn’t
Not much has changed since 2007 – real estate search is *still* fragmented. And if you’re searching for homes for sale in Charlottesville, read this first.
In 2007 and 2008, not many real estate agents (relatively) had blogs or real estate search; now, seemingly everyone does – and the battle between the big three – Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia remains as fierce as ever. So today’s news that Zillow is going to be offering cheap wordpress sites with real estate search is yet another sign that real estate listings are a commodity, accessible by almost everyone … and when something is everywhere, its value is diminished.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is that real estate agents are always looking for the next silver bullet that will make them successful and profitable without having to work. Hard. Zillow’s going for the masses – good for them.
The only true winner here is Zillow (anyone paying attention saw something like this coming when Zillow wisely purchased Diverse Solutions) – they are offering a tool that speaks to the lowest common denominators – cheap and easy – (and very good; their tools are very useful) thereby diminishing the value of all agents’ listing search sites. Sure, many consumers are looking for homes for sale, but where’s the competitive advantage when you (the agent) is offering the same thing as everyone else?
Such is life.
Listings, and listing data are a commodity . Everyone has them. I’ve benefited by google indexing the MLS listings found on my site, but I’ve never depended on it. I generate unique, relevant, and occasionally good content. Anyone can get listing data.
My first reaction to reading this news was, “thank goodness I have something on my site besides listings.” Everyone and every product is seeking to differentiate itself. If everyone has real estate search, that differentiation is going to be harder to achieve.
So, my reaction to the “Zillow is offering blogs with real estate search” news is a combination of “so what” and “good for them.”
I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and represent my clients to the best of my ability. With or without listings on my blog.
Update 4 June 2012: Bill Lublin posits “Are You Prepared for the Absence of Search?”