If you’ve ever complained about Zillow and Trulia, you should take a look at this clear-eyed view from my good friend Todd Carpenter as to why they are dominating real estate search — and mobile, rentals, mortgage information, agent reviews … The list goes on and on.
In every respect, Zillow and Trulia behave as consumer software companies first. Their clients aren’t real estate agents and brokers. They’re not worried about MLSs, IDXs and REALTOR® rules. They care about getting in front of the consumer first with useful and comprehensive information. Period. They’re in a war with each other — not with the feet on the street that are handling the transaction.
The truth is, if it weren’t Zillow or Trulia, there would be some other publicly traded company in the real estate space trying to reinvent the way that consumers access information about housing.
Why Online Consumers love Zillow and Trulia more than you. • by Todd Carpenter • Download
From aggregated data to mobile technology, automated valuation models to agent reviews, Trulia and Zillow are one step ahead in delivering on consumer expectations.
The reason is simple. Their first priority is to deliver the information the consumer wants, as expeditiously as possible. Even though the industry might care deeply about accurate information, the consumer is much more forgiving.
Consumers want what they want when they want it, and will overlook inaccuracy when getting information online. Study after study confirms that consumers take information they get from the Internet with a grain of salt. Trulia and Zillow know this, and aren’t bound by the same rules because they’re media companies first (who happen to be in the real estate space).
The moment that there is an opening for another company to deliver something just a little better than Trulia or Zillow, the industry will have a new competitor to complain about.
Probably, the complaints will be bitter, because the new guy will up-end some traditional process, all in an effort to please consumers. I can imagine that even Zillow and Trulia will complain, which many people will enjoy.
These are market forces — and I don’t believe it’s an attack on agents, brokers, MLSs or anyone else that is involved in the industry.
What’s happening is simple: Consumers are getting more information, more quickly than ever before, about real estate. Zillow and Trulia are in the business of delivering it. They’re not going away. There will be more of them.
For agents and brokers, this means defining your value proposition in a new world where consumers can get information about you and your listings, whether you’re involved or not. That’s the future. And it’s already here.
Todd believes that the real estate industry needs to get out of its own way to compete if it wants to try to “win” against Trulia and Zillow. He also posits that strategic co-existence may be better.