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Realtor Rip Off

This is another Open Letter to all of the officers, executives and staff of the National Association of Realtors.

Is Trulia better than  I received an email today from Trulia.  Here is part of what was included:


Isn’t it amazing this can even happen?  If had been set up correctly in the first place Trulia would not exist.  Same with Zillow.  Neither one of them would exist at all. 

If NAR had set up correctly I wouldn’t have received an email like this one.  Now or ever.  Trulia is set up to make money for the stockholders of Trulia.  Same with Zillow.  It isn’t have they made any money yet, it is that is their purpose.  They are the "agent’s friend" so that they can make money.  Their "purpose" is not to "help agents", it is to make money.

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Isn’t it remarkable that they can even make a comparison like the one above?  Isn’t it fantastic that there is NO reason (as in none), for any Realtor to feel even the slightest loyalty to in a comparison like the one above? is supposed to be in complete alignment with the purpose of helping Realtors.  That is the "purpose" of the National Association of Realtors.  That is the very reason and only reason the NAR exists at all.  If they are not directly or indirectly helping Realtors then they are doing something off-purpose, that is not their job and most likely does not need to be done,  at least not by them.

Some years ago, NAR pretty much gave Homestore (now known as MOVE, a for profit company) the right to charge Realtors whatever the traffic would bear.  Just so long as each Realtor got each of their listings on "for free".  It was an unworkable idea from the start and it hasn’t gotten any better.  Realtors now get their listings on loads of sites "for free".  Eventually, the leaders of the NAR are going to have to face the very unpleasant idea that the entire fiasco hasn’t really "worked" and it isn’t going to work.  I understand that the people in power now are not the ones who created this mess in the first place.  But there isn’t even any good reason now for recriminations towards them.  Now and the future is what matters.  Pretending all is well because the people involved are all very nice and you are friends with them isn’t going to solve the problem. 

The more time that passes the more traction we lose.  Take it back.  Now.  Sure it is going to be a huge undertaking.  Most worthwhile things are.

It is not to late to make this right.  Keep losing ground and it eventually will be.  Take it back.  Do the right thing.   You only arrived at your position because you truly wanted to make a positive difference.  Take back.  It should be a member benefit.  Period.

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Written By

Russell has been an Associate Broker with John Hall & Associates since 1978 and ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the U.S. Most recently The Wall Street Journal recognized the Top 200 Agents in America, awarding Russell # 25 for number of units sold. Russell has been featured in many books such as, "The Billion Dollar Agent" by Steve Kantor and "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" by Gary Keller and has often been a featured speaker for national conventions and routinely speaks at various state and local association conventions. Visit him also at and



  1. Jim Gatos

    February 4, 2009 at 4:13 am


    When I left Coldwell Banker recently to re-join Keller Williams, is actually one of the “seducing” points some office recruiters use.. Come with us and we’ll ‘give’ you for free.. (the enhanced listings).. Not with me as much as a friend of mine who actually interviewed a couple of companies..

    Guess what? They can have it!

    I get SO tired of this bull, … is number 1 this, highest traffic count this, you’d better pony up and pay us the mafia money we want otherwise your clients are going to see how cheap you are when they don’t see your listings on

    First of all, I’m not dumb..

    I never had One Sale from in all these years. NOT ONE. Zip, Zilch, Nada..

    Secondly, as listing agent, the calls all come to me anyway..

    Thirdly, I’ll simply wait .. The bubble will break eventually. Have you ever even spoken to those clowns at Used car salesmen would be overwhelmed…

  2. Mack

    February 4, 2009 at 4:26 am

    Russell~The more I read your articles the better I like you! This one is so right on. It’s a shame that sites like Trulia and Zillow can come along and provide the REALTOR community better service for less cost than the site of the National Association of REALTORS. Well said sir!

    • Nashville Grant

      February 23, 2010 at 5:36 pm

      I completely agree. It is a shame that our own industry could not protect us from outsiders like Zillow and Trulia.

  3. fred

    February 4, 2009 at 7:38 am

    I checked out the “free” features and it looks like you still need to pay at least $29 a month to get the “reporting” feature, which the graphic above states is free. That’s a lie.

    I pay for the office showcase package on because it sets me apart from the cheapo agents and offers superior marketing for me and my clients. is still the most used real estate website in the US.

  4. Rudy

    February 4, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Good morning Russell!

    I enjoyed your writing even before I met you last year at Unchained. Then, after hearing you speak in person and actually having a face to face conversation with you, I must say, you are one of the most genuine and likeable people I’ve ever met.

    That being said, it is pretty amazing! As with most things, there’s always room for improvement. It’s no secret as to how and why Trulia came about. The opportunity to improve the consumer, agent and broker experience presented itself at a time where technology was rapidly growing. You are correct in stating that Trulia is here to make money, nothing wrong with that, we are a business. But it is false in stating that our purpose is not to help agents.

    Trulia is a multifaceted community that caters to consumers, agents, brokers and our advertisers. We’re here to provide agents and brokers with the best tools and services possible to help them grow their business. We’re here to help consumers get unbiased information on real estate and to provide them with a community where they can get information and interact with our real estate community. We make money through banner advertising and a premium agent product. We care about everyone in our community and give back as much as we can. We provide valuable webinars and face to face hands on training and educational sessions to many of our partners. Bottom line – we care!

    Part one of the Trulia Challenge focused on comparing similar services and the cost associated with them. Sure, free doesn’t = better but it’s worth noting that many of things agents like about Trulia are free. Part 2 will focus more on value…..stay tuned….

    Social Media Guru at Trulia

  5. Rudy

    February 4, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Hi Fred!

    Performance reporting feature for your listings are free. Within your dashboard, you can see the stats for each of your clients listings. Trulia Pro adds functionality to the free feature to make it easy to send a personal branded email report to your client.

    Hope this helps.



  6. Marvin Jensen

    February 4, 2009 at 8:13 am

    I smell a revolt coming!

  7. Jim Duncan

    February 4, 2009 at 8:32 am

    To fully understand why the NAR cannot take back, it’s important to know the hows and whys of the contract between the two entities. It’s not pretty.

    I don’t know enough yet to post it here, but I’ll see what I can round up.

  8. Teresa Boardman

    February 4, 2009 at 9:18 am

    About two years ago I wrote a short post about how our industry created zillow by not listening to consumers and giving them what they want. is still better for consumers because it has a much greater percentage of the listings on it than zillow or Trulia but consumers don’t understand that.

  9. Matt Thomson

    February 4, 2009 at 10:39 am

    I thought the same thing when I got the Trulia email yesterday. What is’s purpose?

  10. Fran Bailey

    February 4, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Trulia may have better features for Realtors, but delivers the most online views. Thus, it looks better to me.

  11. Matt Stigliano

    February 4, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I saw this as well and even watched the video. I have to say, overall I like Trulia’s capabilities and the tools they provide. I have never enhanced any listings at, so its hard to say what value it would provide. I haven’t heard any real positive response though. What I do hear a lot of (and not just for is agent’s saying “I do it to keep my clients happy.” When I hear this, my stomach turns a bit. Keeping them happy or serving them better? Which is more important? I want happy clients, no doubt about it, but not at the expense of throwing money at everything and showing them so that they’re “happy.” I heard it about a full page ad in a home magazine the other day and I thought, “are you serious?” If I put on a dog and pony show to keep my clients happy, I should just go back to rock and roll as a career. I’m not here to please, I’m here to get the job done – which in turn (miraculously), will please and create happy clients.

  12. jf.sellsius

    February 4, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Since most folks will have a presence on all/most available real estate related websites, the question becomes which sandbox should I spend MORE of my time— this is an ROI question. If you get more contacts/conversions from website Z (whether it be free or paid activities), then perhaps you ought spend more time there. Otherwise, you’re just p—ing in sandboxes.

    As for TruZilla, their lack of transparency vis-a-vis their local MLS coverage is not consumer friendly, read NOT serving the consumer, read disingenuous, no matter how you spin a taste test for real estate agents. If you really want to embrace transparency, tell the visitor your local MLS coverage, or lack thereof. Then consumers could have a choice to spend or waste time on your site.

  13. Tony Sena

    February 4, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    I remember reading that NAR was hiring a Social Media Manager about 3 or 4 months ago? Hmmmm…You think they would want to be involved in this conversation telling us how great is and they are always looking out for the best interest of its members.

    Which we all know there not!

  14. Russell Shaw

    February 4, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Rudy, I was impressed with you, as well! And I hope that nothing I wrote came across as an attack on Trulia. I have no quarrel with anything Trulia has said, done, not done or not said. I was only pointing out that if not for NAR making a HUGE error giving OUR NAME to Homestore (now MOVE)there would be no Trulia.

  15. Lisa Sanderson

    February 5, 2009 at 6:33 am

    I used to, grudgingly, enhance my listings on Then late last year my small company merged in to a larger company, so we had to re-do our accounts with because of the change. My cost was going to stay somewhat level. However, my previous-broker was expected to pay an astronomical amount per month because their system showed he had all these listings in the past year. Yes, he did have boku listings because he was the broker and therefore all of his agents’ listings showed on his feed. But now he is just an agent and has, for argument’s sake, a quarter of the listings he had before. We pointed this out to the rep at but there was no negotiating, no relief, no concession, no nothing out of to make the situation right. They wanted their full astronomical fee Needless to say, they lost some customers that day. I don’t miss the massive stream (not) of leads the site provided at all.

  16. Rudy

    February 5, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Not at all Russell. Keep up the great writing!


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