From the day aggregation of MLS/Broker data began, the traditional real estate industry has cried foul over inaccurate search results, citing expired listings, withdrawn listings, or even pending listings as currently available properties within big search portals like Zillow, Trulia, Vast, and others.
But why the angst?
For years, Craigslist has been abused by the traditional sales agent in the practice of the old fashioned bait and switch, where a house with a price, no address, and a phone number is inappropriately titled “This won’t last.” I say inappropriately because it simply didn’t exist to begin with, or maybe it did… last year. This practice continues unchecked even to this day; it’s simply an old sales tactic that no one seems to want to curb, yet ‘the traditionals’ continue to cry foul when big media companies simply aggregate the data directly from the Brokers.
Why the sales tactic works
Right or wrong, it works because the offending agent knows that the house in the Craigslist ad matters not because it was the area and price point that actually sold the unknowing consumer into making the phone call — inventory is abundant, and the agent has the MLS to satisfy the desires of the unwitting consumer.
Which brings us to the point
It’s the job of any agent to vet fact from fiction, check availability, and provide options to consumers in the first place-why and from where the phone rang is only relevant to understanding the desires of the consumer. If in fact the listing data is correct is moot as it’s your job to present alternative options that empower the consumer to make the best decision based on all of the options anyway. How many times have you as an agent had your own client call you on another agent’s Craigslist ad for you to find and show them the property? It happens, and you’re put in the uncomfortable position of apologizing for a 100 year old sales tactic you’ve never practiced, but ultimately, you become the hero.
So why the boohooing?
If Zillow, Trulia, and the rest provide closer to accurate information that is above and beyond popular sites like Craigslist (which are more agent driven and inaccurate), isn’t this a good thing? If the traditional industry isn’t willing to police itself in the public space where the data they’re sharing is potentially inaccurate, wouldn’t we prefer our consumers at least begin their search in an arena that at least aims for some semblance of accuracy standards? It stands to reason that if the traditional industry is so concerned with inaccurate data, then wouldn’t it be better to begin educating buyer agents against such a practice and Brokers cracking the whip on agents utilizing them? Regardless of the medium and the ethics it disregards, it seems acceptable so long as it’s done by ‘the professionals.’
Free happy endings
In our opinion, it’s good news that you (those that stand against bait and switch) are there to bring the value in accuracy and efficiency because it’s no longer about where the search began (that cat is out of the bag) but more about how it ended- with you. The search result was you- the rest remains “traditional.”