As an agent who is positive towards technology and transparency, I’ve had mixed opinions about the endless number of online real estate sites that have cropped up in the past few years. So, what about Zillow.com?
First of all, the creators of Zillow are the guys behind Expedia so certainly, we can easily assume their are extremely bright, savvy and prescient about where technology and the consumer world is headed. At first, their model worried me because it seemed as if they were trying to take the expertise out of real estate valuation. Having decimated the travel agent profession, it seemed the real estate professional was next on their hit-list.This caused a lot of concern and trepidation among the industry. There is a war being fought in the real estate world. It’s a war over communication, transparency, and information. I am firmly on the side of giving the customer the freedom to access information easily and on their own.I know that my value does not lie in the hoarding of information. It lies in the analysis of that information, the ability to look objectively at the market, a particular property and most importantly, a particular person’s situation to help them make the best, most informed decisions. My value-add is 1. to give a context and reality to all the information and 2. to help my clients get beyond their self-imposed limitations and procrastination. In other words, to help people actually achieve the real estate goals they created on their own. Yet, still, I found myself a little bit defensive about Zillow. It did seem at first that they had a very, anti-REALTOR stance but now it’s completely different. During the recent California Association of Realtors Tech Tuesday forum, LLoyd Frink, Co-founder and President of Zillow.com had this to say about where he sees REALTORS in the new paradigm of open information and access. “Zillow believes that the nature of the relationship between REALTORS and their clients is probably going to change. As opposed to REALTORS being the gatekeepers of information, they’re much more likely to be giving expert advice on what the information means.” Yes, Lloyd, I concur.