Zillow’s expansion plans: compete with brokers?
Real estate media company, Zillow has recently made several big moves, some are being called game changers as they add value to their offering with the goal of better serving real estate practitioners and consumers. Not everyone sees it that way, however, including VHT Chairman, Brian Balduf, who is no stranger to controversy, recently taking on black hat SEO tactics of real estate media sites.
Balduf sees Zillow’s expansion plans as anti-broker and in a statement to be released later today, Balduf outlines why. The statement is featured in full below.
“If it walks and talks like a brokerage, it might be Zillow,” by Brian Balduf, VHT Chairman:
Zillow’s new Agent Hub tool
When Zillow rolled out a new CRM tool for real estate agents on Friday, it hit a nerve with brokers who are already offended by big aggregators’ controversial tactics to get in between them and their customers. Now it looks like Zillow is also trying to get in between them and their agents.
Zillow describes Agent Hub as a key step in moving Zillow beyond advertising with a suite of tools and services giving agents a central hub for marketing and managing their businesses and becoming more productive.
Agent Hub is said to provide agents with analytics dashboards to monitor listing and agent profile metrics, as well as marketing and social media training and industry news updates.
All this prompted industry observers such as Geekwire to suggest that Zillow’s agent strategy is targeted at competing with Market Leader and other industry outsiders that are aggressively pursuing the billions spent annually by real estate professionals on marketing and advertising.
Brokerages are in Zillow’s crosshairs
But there’s more going on here than competition between two companies in the same space. In this battle, it’s real estate brokerages who are in the crosshairs of Zillow’s ongoing expansion plan.
Understanding why that’s the case requires understanding how the Internet has changed consumer buying habits. Once upon a time, agents were the source of clients for brokerages. But now, consumers have direct access to MLS listings and they’re spending weeks or months shopping for homes on the web without help from agents.
Today, agents have to pay Zillow and other third parties to help them find these online buyers. And these savvy third parties are investing big bucks in developing a range of CRM, lead management and other support services that are easy for agents to access and free or low-cost to use. (Zillow’s plan, the company disclosed this week, also includes opening a new California office and adding 100 employees to its sales force to promote the Agent Hub offering.)
An interesting comparison
Here’s an interesting comparison. If you look at some advertising by brokers trying to attract agents, and at what these industry outsiders like Market Leader are marketing to agents, you’ll see some interesting similarities:
The broker’s message in the above ad — about providing the “best tools, training, support and lead generation” to agents — has been borrowed by third party companies like Market Leader. Its brochure ware says it offers agents “integrated websites, contact management, a marketing center, and lead generation services that generate a steady stream of prospects plus provides the systems and training for converting those prospects into clients.”
The only difference in the services is that these third party players aren’t restricted by all the rules and regulations that a brokerage must adhere to.
Zillow undermines brokers’ value to agents
With Agent Hub, Zillow is helping to undermine brokers’ value to agents and eclipsing their role by providing services directly to agents – services that traditionally have been provided by brokers. Like Market Leader, they’re taking money out of brokers’ pockets, undermining agents’ loyalty to brokers, and basically competing for the low hanging fruit – agent marketing dollars.
No wonder agents are questioning the role of traditional brokers and demanding a larger share of commissions. If the trend continues, will agents need brokers at all?
Brokers CAN actually strengthen their relationship with agents and increase their value proposition. But they need to spend less time trying to recruit more agents and more time using their resources to get leads for the agents they have. They should be helping agents nurture buyers through the sales process so they can close more sales.
This battle is all about trying to help agents generate leads and close deals more effectively. Whoever does it the best, wins, period.
AGBeat is not affiliated with VHT and the above comments expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions and position of AGBeat officers and employees.
Our five faves for Friday – almost Thanksgiving edition
(EDITORIAL) This week, I have so many faves that I can barely keep it at just five – Unicorns, gophers, tears, science nerdery, and rebellions, oh my!
I heard a rumor that it’s Friday again, so today we share with you five of the neato-est things that we came across this week – some silly, some serious, all awesome.
1. Brands refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day
It started with retailers opening early on Black Friday, then opening at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, and now retailers are expected to force their staff to work instead of enjoy a bajillion-ish year old American tradition.
But some companies are pushing back, publicly refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day, so even though our home doesn’t care about Black Friday, we’ll be giving some business to those taking a stand.
2. I need you to know about my favorite tv show ever
So there’s nothing new about this, but since you’ve never heard from ME on a Friday Faves roundup, I really need you to know something about me – I have a lot of natural curiosities and history (when not told in a dusty way) fascinates the hell out of me.
Unearthed on the Science Channel is friggen amazing and literally EVERY episode has taught me something that I didn’t know before (like the one about Stonehenge included new discoveries that change how we think about how humans used to operate – seriously mindblowing stuff). All of the episodes are available online, yo, so get to nerding!
3. No one has bought me a Pony Cycle yet
One of the only email newsletters I actually open is The Grommet – they feature independent makers’ inventions and wares, and I’m all about supporting the little guy.
But I posted this insanely amazing Pony Cycle on my Facebook timeline this week with a request that someone buy me one. Guess what? No takers. My friends are monsters. I mean it comes in horse, unicorn (dibs), and zebra, why not buy me one or three?
4. Video that made me cry
After the recent earthquake hit Iran, there has been a deep need for food for the victims. Watch this video (my fave part is the pat pat on the back) and try to tell me that hate isn’t something we’re taught… also, I’m not crying, you are…
5. My favorite gif of this week
If you know me, you know I love gifs more than the average person. So when I came across this one, I knew I had to award it my fave of the week…
Is your job inadvertently harming your health?
(EDITORIAL) We often get so consumed with our work that we unknowingly hurt ourselves in the process. Learn how to keep this from happening.
With the changes in seasons, we tend to put more of an emphasis on our health. This makes sense as flus and colds have a tendency to run rampant around the holidays.
However, we should be more mindful of keeping track of our health throughout the year. And, given that our jobs are such a large part of our lives, it is important to keep in mind that our jobs can have an affect on our health. Which can often be a bad thing.
For most of us, we are in the same space for eight hours of our day. Sometimes we think that just because it’s ourselves occupying that space, things can’t really get germy. Well, think again.
We have so many things that we touch on a daily basis – our keyboard, mouse, phone, ID badge, etc. These have a tendency to become a house for germs, which can hurt us as time goes on.
Combat this by setting aside some time each week to disinfect all of your most-used items. Also, consider keeping some hand sanitizer at your desk.
Getting up to clean around your office can help take care of another issue – being too sedentary throughout the day. Sometimes we get so consumed with plugging away at our computers that we forget to get up and stretch.
This can be harmful to your weight and your circulation. Keep the blood flowing by getting up and moving a bit every hour or so.
The mindfulness of your health should not stop at the physical, but should also involve keeping an eye on mental health. Your job plays a big part in this as well.
First of all, you start and end your day with a commute. For some, this can be incredibly strenuous – expensive, traffic-filled, etc.
This has been known to lead to depression. Try filling this time with positivity and fulfillment by listening to a quality podcast or an audio book. This will help to give meaning to otherwise wasted time.
The most important thing to monitor with your mental health is making sure to not overwork yourself. It can be difficult to find that perfect work/life balance, but it’s necessary for a happy and healthy life.
Try staying away from work emails and texts after a certain time of the day on weekdays or on the weekends. Think about it this way – you’re not supposed to tend to your personal business during work hours, so why let work interfere with your personal time?
All of this can be helped by checking in with yourself every once in a while, or even by using the buddy system and discussing the topic with a work friend.
Lastly, be sure to check with your company to learn about health and wellness programs that may be offered.
Do literally anything with your money besides buy an iPhone X
(EDITORIAL) The iPhone X is pretty snazzy, but let me express why your money belongs literally anywhere besides in Apple’s pocket for this phone.
The iPhone X is off to a rocky start, beginning with the fact that no one seems to know whether it’s supposed to be pronounced “iPhone Ten” or “iPhone Ex” and working up from there.
If you’re here, you probably don’t need me to tell you that a 5.8-inch OLED screen, facial recognition, 4K recording at 60 FPS, and an all-glass design are superfluous as hell — but just in the off-chance that I’m wrong, THE IPHONE X IS SUPERFLUOUS AS HELL.
Take literally 30 seconds to think about all of the mega-cool features that convinced you to buy your last smartphone, then think of the last time you used even half of those features without feeling compelled to do so. If you’re one of those people who uses all of the filters on the camera every day, fine, but I’m willing to bet that you just use your phone for Facebook, texting, and calling your grandma.
You don’t need a 5.8-inch, all-glass, basically-a-tablet-of-a-phone to do those things, but if money doesn’t mean anything to you, be my guest.
It’s also worth noting that there is a certain point at which “really fast” and “really, really fast” feel identical to one another. My personal experience with this phenomenon was with the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8; it doesn’t matter how fast your newest processor is if the last one was fast enough.
Apple has a long history of publicly executing things that people are still using. While it’s hard to be too mad about the headphone jack, they hit a soft spot when they nixed ethernet ports—and, more recently, USB 3.0 ports—and the most recent dissident to fall victim to Apple’s indiscriminate chopping block is the Home button.
Yeah, that thing that make the iPhone usable in the first place? Not there anymore. Worse still, the simple display is now flooded with different shortcut hotspots. For example, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Center — no, wait, that’s how you get home. You swipe from the top-right corner of the screen to open the Control Center, while the top-left corner opens the notifications screen that — hey, are you writing this down?
To make matters worse, Apple added a bunch of different contextual shortcuts to the physical buttons on the sides of the iPhone X, further reducing accessibility. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Is the iPhone X necessary? Absolutely not. Is it neato? Sure.
But is it worth your time if you’ve got dollar bills to blow? Again, absolutely not — do literally anything else with that money, up to and including burning it. As long as Apple continues to ignore the issues that plague their devices in favor of broken facial recognition and 3D emoji animation, consider spending your money elsewhere.
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