Zillow’s Offering Blogs and Real Estate Search. So What?

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?

Related reading:

- Knowing This, Would you Trust Zillow?

- Trulia, Zillow, Cyberhomes or the Charlottesville MLS?

- Zillow’s Still not Accurate in Charlottesville

- If You’re Looking at Zillow to Value homes in the Charlottesville Area

- The Internet. For Realtors. :)

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  • http://PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com/ Jay Thompson

    Hey Jim! Jay T. from Zillow here. You have an error in your post. You wrote, “I generate unique, relevant, and occasionally good content.” Occasionally? That should read, “virtually always”. Might want to change “good” to “great” while you’re at it.

    As you well know, real estate site visitors want to see listings. So site operators need to offer them. But you’re right, it’s the content that sets real estate sites apart. And when the real estate hits the street and gets face-to-face, it’s the representation and service that *really* matters.

    • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

      Thanks, Jay. :) 

      If the bulk of the agents use this new offering as a jump-off point to actually produce useful content in addition to the search, I think it could be great. If the result is a bunch of new template sites, such is life. 

      Either way, I think it’s going to be a big success for Zillow.