“If we all banded together, we could put Zillow and Trulia out of business”

chevronBack when gas prices skyrocketed, I started getting a chain letter from angry friends who weren’t going to take it anymore; you know the one. It said that all we have to do is ban together and not buy gas on the same day. This would bring big oil to their knees.

We all know that free markets don’t work that way. Even if you could get everyone to not buy gas on one day, gas companies would simply lower the price just a little bit. By the next day, people would break ranks to take advantage of the savings. The embargo would crumble. This is the sort of economic lesson we all learned in junior high.

The lesson seems to be forgotten in the real estate industry as it relates to eliminating Zillow and Trulia. The argument is that these to companies would have no value if “we” stopped sending them all of our listings. Cut them off, and they will die. From time to time, a big broker will announce they are pulling their listings from Zillow, Trulia, or even REALTOR.com. Edina did it in 2011. More recently, Nothnagle did the same. In each instance many online voices heralded the news and called on the industry to follow their lead. If everyone thought like Edina and Nothnagle, ZRT would be in some serious trouble, but many brokerages look at situations like this as an opportunity.

Yesterday, Trulia announced a new partnership with Coldwell Banker Prime Properties (the “number one Coldwell Banker affiliate in New York State,”) that assures listings will be “featured and branded in Trulia’s search results…” Is it a coincidence that New York State is Nothnagle’s home turf? Check out Mary Huls’ quote for some further context:

“One of the things that really distinguishes us from the competition is our level of commitment to supporting our agents in every way possible, as they support their clients…”

In other words, they saw a chance to gain a competitive advantage over Nothnagle and jumped all over it. RE/MAX Results inked a similar deal last fall in response to Edina pulling out of syndication. Deals like this happen everyday at the agent level. When a big brokerage pulls out of Zillow and Trulia, the brokers and agents that continue to participate have less competition. Marketing agreements with these sites becomes a valuable recruiting tool to attract top agents and secure listings.

Brokers and agents seem to spend a lot of time worrying about Trulia and Zillow; they aren’t the competition. They’re just the tools your competitor is using to try to outperform you in your market. You may decide these tools are good for you. You may decide you’re better off without them. Waxing poetic about their demise is a waste of time. Worry about your competitors, not the tools.

Photo: Creative Commons license via Flickr user aaron_anderer

4 thoughts on ““If we all banded together, we could put Zillow and Trulia out of business”

  1. Jon

    My principle broker told that there are two ways that you can beat a competitor. You can dig a hole and throw your competitor in it and therefore you stand taller or you can build a chair and therefore you stand taller. He likes building the chair idea better because only then will your competitors respect you and in turn, they won’t be thinking for days on how to throw you in a hole.

  2. Robert Drummer

    “Marketing agreements with these sites becomes a valuable recruiting tool to attract top agents and secure listings.”

    If this is what brokers think of as a valuable recruiting tool to attract top agents and secure listings, they’re doing it wrong.

    1. Todd Carpenter Post author


      The actual value of the tools is irrelevant. They have perceived value. Consumers are demanding that their listing be featured on Trulia and Zillow. Some brokers and agents can compellingly overcome this, most can’t and don’t even want to. Even the brokers who stopped syndicating have been hesitant to forbid their agents from posting manually because they don’t want to loose them. Many agents have left these brokers anyway.

  3. JML

    Agents deserve what they get. They are greedy. Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com will put them all out of business within two years. Zillow has a new “learn to manage your own property” for home owners renting homes that syndicates the rental all over the web, including agent sites that comingle with the zillow program. Zillow accepts listings from FSBO.

    Trulia takes rental listings and is toying with FSBO.

    Realtor.com now allows non-realtors (real estate agents) to list, and builders. Treachery.

    No one needs real estate agents. Their profession is a joke now that they served their data up to the data syndicators. 80% of the documents you sign at closing are not legally required. They are required by the realtor association to over complicate the buying / selling process because a child can list their house for sale on Zillow/trulia/realtor/yahoo/aol, show it, and sell it. A closing company will do all the necessary paperwork for you. Agents don’t earn their commissions. Good bye


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