In the Realtor world, a lot of those in the industry despise Zillow and other real estate websites for the competition they’ve created, and for the sometimes inaccurate information it provides to consumers. For myself, I do see both sides of this equation, both positive and negative that this new digital age has brought to real estate agents. See below the pros and cons of using Zillow and other sites offering a similar experience.
1. Get started on your search early
Since I’ve been a Realtor, the internet has always been around, but that wasn’t always the case. I can hardly believe some of the stories I hear from veteran agents of what they used to have to do, in addition to the tasks on our plate today. Their clients only knew a house was for sale in one of two ways. Either they saw a sign in someone’s yard or their realtor told them. This exclusivity was certainly a competitive advantage for agents, however, it added a significant workload to their plates. Now, consumers have the opportunity to search online for exactly what their looking for, specifying down to the tiniest details. Having access to this is great as it not only presents them with options in their price range they can afford, thus setting their expectations, but it also allows them to not have to rely on an agents interpretation for their looking for and they can search for themselves. I would much rather take the search into my own hands, and these sites allow consumers to do just that!
2. Allows immediate exposure of a property
When a seller decides to list their home on the market and promote it to potential buyers, in the past, this would require a bit of lead time. Now, the agent has the ability to promote it on multiple channels instantly through the MLS (multiple listing service) and their brokerage firm. It syndicates to 100’s of websites, even internationally to increase your potential pool of buyers, which will in turn increase competition, and results in you selling your home faster and for a better price.
3. Visibility to home prices
As I mentioned in the first PRO, consumers now have more visibility than ever before on the health of the market, and can likely identify if something is a good deal or not. Back before these websites were around, this knowledge was in the brains of your Realtor, relying on them to advise. Now, you can ensure that you’re Realtor isn’t blowing smoke, as you have the data at your fingertips as well. I still highly recommend leveraging your agent for their expertise, but now you have the opportunity to triple check.
1. Unrealistic evaluations
I would say this is the number one reason why agents dislike Zillow. When they create a ‘Zestimate’ on a property, it is done through an algorithm, and based solely on data pulled from home tax records. Thus, it doesn’t take into consideration any specialties that the home offers, or on the other end of the spectrum, the horrific wear and tear you dog has done to the interior. When you work with an agent, they not only do a manual estimation based on recent sales in your area, but they also conduct a thorough walk through and discuss your home with you in detail. Did you get a new roof? Was an additional bedroom added, but not on the record? All of this and more is knowledge required to ensure you get a proper estimate of your home before listing.
2. Agents pay for exposure
When a home is listed on Zillow, you’ll see a few agents associated with the listing. The first is generally the actual listing agent, and the rest are just those who have paid a premium to be there. This doesn’t guarantee they are the right agent for you nor does it confirm that they even know relevant details on the property. I’m not stating that these agents won’t be good, it is just setting consumers up false expectations that the agent has something to do with that home selling directly. This is more of just a red flag of knowledge.
3. Replacing agents
There is an assumption out there that these online real estate sites will eventually take over the industry. I have zero fear of this happening, as the type of clients who want an online ‘transaction’ and not a relationship with someone they trust, are not my clients anyway. I also believe that it just ensures that us agents work that much harder, creating their value proposition as to why working with them and relying on their expertise is better than depending on a website.