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Real Estate Agents Rotting Like Dinosaurs- The Smell of Death Looms

Which Flavor Are You?


Flavor One: Don’t give your data to Active Rain (localism) Trulia, Zillow, et al.  Never sell the  soul of the industry by adding value to big media site forums because at the end of the day, you’re trumping your own SEO efforts by placing a middle man between you and a phone call, Google search engine result, and potential client.

Flavor Two: Be in as many places as you can be, expose your name, links, and branding in any online form willing to accept your information.  Make yourself as open to opportunity as possible in order to get the worm- be the early bird.

Flavor one has some great points, as the consumer is desperately seeking knowledge and affirmation of decisions swirling around in the home buying brains.  The lust of a hot deal sends them seeking answers from strangers on the internet as opposed to calling you first- they want to know what you know before they’ve even asked you the question, right?  So why wouldn’t I want my site to be the first result in a search engine search over Active Rain, Trulia or Zillow?

Flavor two seems valid as well that if the consumer is looking for answers online anyway, there might be a higher likely hood that they could possibly choose me if I’m first!  I may not own the content I submit, but a closing is a nice result for an hour or two a week, right? If I’m part of the result on Zillow, Activerain or Trulia, then technically, I’ve won, right?

Bitter or Sweet?

Between the flavors is a nice hint of bitter and sweet, a kind of unknown flavor that leaves you wondering which it is.  I personally can make an argument either way, I can see both sides of this coin, but I’m often left scratching my head over the common reality that just because you have standards one way or the other doesn’t mean others will follow.  I mean, who cares about your morally principled social media etiquette when I’ve got to feed my wallet?  Just because you won’t sell in a social media space, or send a post card, or canvas neighborhoods, doesn’t mean I or your competitor won’t.

So I’m wondering, which flavor are you and why? Is it true that whomever chooses the other flavor is as dead as a dinosaur?

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[cb type=”trulia”]trulia[/cb]

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  1. Joe Loomer

    June 15, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Have to say I’m flavor two, Ben. As an agent with a significant VA (active duty) client base, I found myself in a situation where my past clients from 2005-on had no equity to sell. What do I do? Did my research and switched to working on my website and linking (and commenting on blogs) to drive the popularity of my site up. Everything goes everywhere I can possibly think of.

    I think one of the best parts about being a “flavor two” is that I have become more educated about the national real estate situation by accident. I approached it as a means to get more web leads, but my web journeys often turned into fascinating visits to wonderful places.

    Oh, and I now convert web leads regularly because of switching from flavor one to flavor two.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Chris Griffith

    June 15, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I’m a sweet-tart. I do everything I can on the sweet and sour side.

  3. Lisa Sanderson

    June 15, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    “Who cares” is right, Benn, and this could apply to any number of debates. If we all worked on making our ownselves the best we can be instead of worrying about what the other guy is doing or not doing, the world, and the business, would be a much better place. IMO.

  4. Clint Miller

    June 15, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Id have to say that Im more of the second with a dash of the first.

    By the way, did you know that the “mystery flavor” of Dum-Dum pops really isnt a flavor at all. It is the “mid-run” that occurs between two seperate flavors. Technically, the mystery flavor can be any number of flavor combinations which is why no one can name any one specific flavor.

    Yeah, Im the Mystery flavored Dum-Dum 🙂

  5. ines

    June 15, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Can’t there be a balance? I’m with Chris with the Sweet-n-Sour thing – but it goes beyond that. I do like my name to be everywhere, exposure achieves a level of perception that can only be good for marketing (especially if you are a listing agent). But at the same time I double think about my involvement in certain platforms.

    I loved contributing with Trulia Voices for example, until they took over my main market with the same keywords I was using to answer consumer questions. Then I started abreviating words and responding MS instead of “miami shores” or SpMed instead of “Spanish Mediterranean” – also did that after studying the ROI and noticing that after hours of answering questions, only closed one deal. For the record, still syndicate my listings there.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I do test what works for me and have never been much of an extremist – but I do hate when someone else benefits from my hard work. (Is that wishy washy enough for you Benn?)

  6. Rich Jacobson

    June 15, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Most of my original ‘consumer-oriented’ content gets published on one of two local WP blogs. But I also participate on ActiveRain, Zillow, and Trulia as well. You cannot ignore the amount of traffic these sites attract. In addition, there are more benefits to my involvement on AR than simply being found through organic search results. I can effectively develop an excellent referral network with other RE pros, and read some solid practical advice/info relating to our business.

  7. Sandra Dunne

    June 15, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Flavor two resembles success in real life. If you have a great deal of money for advertising and intend to put your valuable and vast knowledge onto your own website you can become noticed. But due to a lack of collaboration you will have to consistently dump money and information into your own website.

    For competitve edge in this global economy you need to collaborate. Collaboration and cooperation take you higher, faster and to a more stable plateau than a one man/woman army. Think about it like a dictatorship. Not matter how good, rich, smart, or desired you are you cannot remain stable at this state. The global economy pushes us forward and waits for no one. If all you can do is make your website better continuously you are not servicing clients, learning competitive tactics, remaining up to date or connecting. Connecting propels us forward. I am not talking about the social networking kind but the people kind.

    I chose tactic one over a decade ago. You cannot remain in a perpetual state of being “The One”. It drains you mentally, financially, spiritually, physically, and put in any word YOU would find important to you as a person with a soul.

    Currently I participate not only in higher education but also in leadership training. While being “The One” you could have applied yourself, made more money, had more time, and took that extra money and time you made cooperating and collaborating on a mutual project (which in itself gives you greater prestige and fame) to better your community which would promote you in a greater fashion than any paid advertising. This would entail reaching out to community, people and in the end, your business and making the world a better place.

    I do not believe you “will rot” if you chose tactic one. I do believe you will not grow very quickly and have a harder environment in which to remain healthy. My past is not a mistake but a valuable learning lesson. I am happy I made that error before the true information age and before the true global economy affected the United States.

    My experience showed me choosing tactic one will have many lies pinned on you (since you are literally not out there you will not even know until too late). Collateral damage is much more costly than preventative measures. Ask any Quality Control employee. Image wise you will be perceived as so good and well off you will intimidate people and not attract customers. Maybe they will feel their property value would not appeal to your professional efforts.

    There most certainly can be a balance. When there is balance this means the Tactic #1 or average person cannot keep up with the movers and shakers. This is great because this is who we are regardless of what your opinion here is today.

  8. Chris

    June 15, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I did the same thing as @Ines with Trulia Voices. The questions actually go into a folder in my Outlook and number into the thousands (unread) at this point. Maybe it’s time to start bouncing them to my icky cootie comcast email. 🙂

  9. Jeffrey Douglass

    June 15, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Dear Benn,

    Nice article and I had to put my thinking hat on for a bit. Certainly after being in the business for 20 years it gives me heartburn that the Trulia, Zillow, and Active Rain models are selling our leads back to us. But I guess we really have no one to blame as an industry since we did not provide what the consumer was looking for and it is now coming from outside our industry. I think there is a battle going on now with providing good local real estate content with the National sites, mmmm, I wonder how thats going to shake out?

    I have to say that my goal is to be found on as many sites as possible. While I don’t blog on any outside sites because I want the freedom to say exactly what I want, I do answer questions for Trulia voices – I have been watching Zillow but the tenor seems a bit unproductive. You didn’t mention Twitter, which I use all the time for learning and for driving traffic.

    I look as the Internet as another source of consumers finding you, reading your content, and liking what they hear. Providing good content takes lots of time and effort, but that is what the Client is searching for, that and not having the agent chase them down the street!

    Keep up the good work, I read your site all of the time.

  10. Doug Francis

    June 15, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    I now answer questions on Trulia that are from my local area only but I see some answers to the same questions from agents in far away states. To me, they should have more of a local focus/strategy and savor that time… maybe talking with their spouse or kids.

    Sites like AG and agent blogs from around the country are great learning tools for me. I really appreciate the spirit of sharing that I don’t get from my local agent population in Northern Virginia. Honestly, I just hope that someday I can give back through some of my blog posts to agents who can enjoy my day-to-day life as a real estate agent story telling.

    Put me in the flava 2 column, most of the time.

  11. Ken Brand

    June 15, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    I want my seller’s listing information to be broadcast in as many places as possible.

    I selectively participate in Trulia/Active Rain community/blog/content aggregation strategy as a sliver of my personal branding strategy, just enough to viewed as at least existing and in an attempt to understand how they work, etc..

    I do not recommend relying on on or investing too much time and expertise with “any” third party listing portal. I could be wrong, but as I see it. They, like us/me/we, are in a business to make a profit. Eventually they want BIG profits. They’ll get some from advertising – fine. Where else can it come from? Consumers aren’t going to pay for it…it has to come from commissions already paid to brokers…they just haven’t figured out how to swing that. Still too much competition among themselves and maybe the junkie isn’t enough of a junkie yet.

    Today I believe that business flows to the feet on the street agent who is able to attract trust. If an agent spends as much time, money and energy on their seller/buyer experience as they do chasing strangers and ways to make more doing less, they’d be better off today. Tomorrow, who knows. In the mean time, the fast will eat the big and slow.

    Thought provoking post.

  12. Ruthmarie Hicks

    June 16, 2009 at 2:19 am

    I post everything to my private blog first. I am trying to wean myself off Active Rain and Trulia. I do not want to help them make money off of my content or hard work. Stop feeding them and your own blog rises through the ranks. The exception is listing information – I post that everywhere – as my clients rightfully expect.

  13. Matt Stigliano

    June 16, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Benn – As usual, leave it to AgentGenius to get me thinking. It’s a tough call here and sometimes I admit, I have trouble coming down off the fence to one side or the other. As a new agent, I like the exposure that the “other” sites provide. My name is out there. As a tech-loving agent, I like the independent side of running my own site/blog. I like SEO and being #1 whenever I can manage it.

    My real conflict lies within the simple idea of helping. We’ve discussed this before (with the events that transpired after I flagged a listing and tried to help a “consumer” on Trulia get some answers). My thinking is rooted in the idea that if I let the various vultures I often see on a site like Trulia (you can insert any company’s name here) overwork the consumers that are out there, then I’m not truly helping the public. I see bad things: bad practices, bad advice (just look for anything relating to the tax credit – there’s plenty of bad info out there), things that cross the legal and ethical lines – and I admit, I’m not perfect either, but I try very hard to give the best I can.

    It’s not just about business for me and of course I realize that sounds like complete line, but it’s how I feel. I love what I do and I love to be a part in the education of the consumers. Sure, not all of them care or will listen, and very few may ever even read what I write. But it’s out there for those that have a thirst for knowledge. Perhaps they’ll even call me someday and work with me. No matter what, I feel I do what I can to help the consumer and that’s part of why I’m here. I was a misinformed consumer once and it wasn’t pleasant. I wish I knew then what I know now.

    So for now, I’d say I’m “Flavor 2” with one slight change:

    and branding in any online form willing to accept your information.

    That should read:

    and branding in select online forms willing to accept your information.

  14. Matt Stigliano

    June 16, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Sorry I hit “submit” a little too fast.

    I suppose my flavor will change and age over time, like any good wine. As I build the base off of which I will move my career up and over the top, my reliance of these practices will most likely shift. From “be everywhere” to be “where I need to be in order to continue growing.”

  15. Missy Caulk

    June 18, 2009 at 2:59 am

    I know a ton of Realtors who are dinausaurs that are making a ton of money.

    I’ve always been an advocate of exposing my listings everywhere. Leads come from a variety of places, searches, portals.

    Just closed on a Trulia one today. I never answered a question by her, she just called me up. I no longer answer ANY question not in my area.

  16. Paula Henry

    June 18, 2009 at 4:35 am

    Ahhhh……….the double edged sword! I used to contibute to all three among others. Today I am more selective.

    There’s more to it than just providing answers and posting your listings. Yes, they will eventually want a cut of the profits, but more so, they want to rank for the terms we want to rank for and there are only so many spots. A few recent listings proved I don’t need any of them to have the whole first page of Google for my listings.

    More important, is my client doesn’t need the exposure of “similar properties” right beside theirs, which may or may not be similar at all. Most of the time it’s not even in the same neighborhood. I opt out of online valuations – it’s difficult enough for sellers to sell without an online service, with no local knowledge, stating their home’s value is less than what we have it listed for.

    In my honest opinion – if we don’t stop providing everyone with our data, we will be the losers, as will our clients. While we are paying for leads, we have less available funds to serve our clients and while we are working harder to make the same amount of money, we have less time to service our clients.

    I found a link the other day for a new listing for with a list of addresses, including the address of the home I just listed. All it was, is a list of addresses advertised as “Property Records”. They are all trying to rank for terms down to the street level.

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