Where Are The Customers? Realtors May Not Like Zillow, but Customers Do

This is a column for both the real estate consumer (a buyer, seller or investor in real estate) as well as a real estate professional – someone who either has a real estate license or aspires to have one.

You really don’t have to get very far in the real estate business before you hear people dumping all over Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com. Trainers do it. “Experienced” Realtors do it at happy hour, at conferences, at seminars. Always good for a laugh and some nods, some shaking of the heads.

But who is having the last laugh?

There are a couple points I want to make this week. Point one is that it’s not about the feature, it’s about the benefit. Point two is it has nothing to do with you, it has everything to do with the customer/client and what they want, what their pain point is, what their need is, what their problem is and how someone out there can best solve it.

Realtors might be able to describe what they want or might prefer that someone do. Perhaps it would be more effective or useful, however, if they would assess what it is that customers actually do, and then see how they can best work with that.

Through a service called Alexa we are able to get a ranking of the most popular websites for the whole world, and in any particular country. In our case we are only concerned about the United States.

Take a look at the table nearby. Let’s start with the top websites regardless of category. It’s probably no surprise to anyone what the top four are – Google, Facebook, YouTube and Amazon. Ask anybody walking down the street which websites they spend the most time on, what tabs they have open on their laptop or desktop right now, it’s going to be at least two of these if not all four.

Now let’s go the next step to the subject at hand. Let’s talk real estate. What’s the most popular real estate website? Not one of the big national real estate brokerages – not by a longshot. It’s Zillow – ranked number 29. Realtor.com makes the top 100 just barely, and Trulia is just a hair’s breadth behind at 118.

But surprise (or maybe not)! There is no brokerage website even in the top 1,500!

So listen up: Realtors can think Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com are silly till the cows come home. But the customers think they are great. That will probably never change.

I’ve said it before in public, I’ve said it before in this column and I’ll say it again. It’s all about the value. The customers want value. The customers are time stressed and time pressed, and want answers. They do organic search. They talk to their friends and trusted sources. They watch video. They know how to look for information, and buy products and services that are well ranked, timely, innovative and well regarded.

Where are you?

James Oaksun, Broward's Real Estate Geek(SM), is Broker-Owner of New Realty Concepts in Oakland Park. In addition to having degrees from Dartmouth and Cornell, he is a Graduate of the Realtor Institute (GRI).


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