A Short History of Real Estate Listings Going Online & Technological Innovations
1993: The first Cell Phone/PDA is introduced by IBM and Bell South!
1996: The National Association of REALTORS® makes an operating agreement for control over it’s website and online branding with a web company (now Move.com)
1999: Al Gore takes credit for inventing the internet.
2005: Trulia is started by a bunch of former dot.com experts in San Francisco, CA. They want to develop a better way of brining real estate online.
2006: Zillow is started in Seattle, WA by former Microsoft employees with a mission to bring real estate into the internet age big time.
2007: The iPhone was introduced. (and smartphones soon became mainstream)
2010: The iPad was introduced. (tablets didn’t exist before then. nobody even knew there was a need for them, except for the late Steve Jobs)
2010: Zillow Makes a deal with Yahoo Real Estate to syndicate listings online. This deal helps propel Zillow’s online rankings among the real estate search websites.
2010: Move.com and the NAR make a change to their 14 year old operating agreement. The change is supposed to make the website Realtor.com® more competitive.
2011: Zillow Surpasses Realtor.com in monthly views for the first time and takes the 1 position for real estate searches. (To date it has not lost that spot)
2012: Zillow and Trulia dominate Real Estate Searches online.
2013: NAR holds a meeting about how to improve Realtor.com® with Move.com. The meeting makes news on Inman News and the comments were still coming in days after the article was published from member agents across the country. Read these comments now by clicking to the Inman News story with this link: http://www.inman.com/2013/07/24/nar-approves-historic-changes-to-realtor-com-operating-agreement/
The Internet and Real Estate Listings
This article is about bringing attention to the future of Real Estate Listings Online and How Those Listings are Marketed online via websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com®. More specifically I would like to inform Agent Redefined readers about a recent article from Inman News about some of the forthcoming changes coming to Realtor.com®. It’s very insightful not only to read the article but also the comments from real estate agents across the country about their dissatisfaction overall with the current status of Realtor.com®. Inman News is a great source for real estate industry news and this is an important story that every agent should read.
The Realtor.com® website lost it’s number 1 position as the top real estate search website in 2011 to Zillow. Today, Zillow is the number one ranking real estate search website with Trulia now coming in at 2nd Place. There’s no doubt these two internet companies have changed the playing field in how buyers and sellers search for real estate online. The points I’m making here are not to praise these companies or say negative things about them. Simply, I believe real estate agents should be informed about the current state of these companies and the types of things they are doing to remain among the top websites used to search for real estate online.
Both Zillow and Trulia have become the Number 1 and 2 real estate websites in the country for 3 reasons. First, they offer an easy to use and pleasant experience when searching for properties online via any type of device (computer, tablet, or phone). Second, they continue to offer consumers (the buyers and sellers) more information about active, closed, and foreclosure status’s on listings. Finally, they are in a state of constant change and improvement over their websites and service. Both of these companies realize they can lose the number 1 or 2 spots if they don’t stay on top of their game. This is why I train real estate agents to accept and learn how to work with these websites to promote your clients listings and enhance your brand online. It’s not a perfect solution but it is reality in 2013.
The Inman News article discusses the July 2013 meeting between NAR and Move.com over changes to help improve the Realtor.com® website and it’s position online. The article highlights some of the comments made by board members from the NAR and they made some very good points. Click this link to read the article and don’t forget to read the comments they are quite passionate. http://www.inman.com/2013/07/24/nar-approves-historic-changes-to-realtor-com-operating-agreement/
Realtor.com® has the potential not only to be the Number 1 real estate search website in the country, but it should be every real estate agents biggest tool online for marketing their listings. What ever mistakes were made in the past to lose it’s position should be acknowledged and a new plan for fixing it put in place with a future vision moving forward. Right now the site clearly is not that, but I outlined several points on how Realtor.com® can be Number 1 for searches and for the real estate agent membership.
1. Improve the overall look and feel of the site. The site is outdated in it’s layout and search capabilities. It should follow a Zillow or Trulia model. Both of these sites are constantly tweaking to improve it’s look, feel, and performance.
2. Allow real estate agents who are members in NAR to have direct access to their listings on the site. Again, Zillow and Trulia allow agents to list properties on their sites for free. You may not have all of the features but at least you have some control over your listings and a potential buyer or seller can contact you directly from them. On Realtor.com® you only have this capability if you purchase a Featured Listings package.
3. Data Accuracy: This is probably the strongest capability Realtor.com® can offer. Because of it’s relationship with NAR and every local MLS in the U.S. the data on Realtor.com® can be in real time and almost 100% accurate. This is at the heart of what real estate search websites are all about and exactly what buyers and sellers want: Accurate Info on listings. This is also how they should brand the site as; “the most accurate and up to date real estate site for home on the internet”.
4. Offer more interaction on the site between Agents, Buyers, and Sellers. This is done through Agent Profiles and Blogs. Also, allow agents to post videos in their profiles and links to their social media and websites.
5. Allow for back links on individual listings to go back to the Agents webpage and a virtual tour. Currently, Realtor.com® has an outdated virtual tour feature which doesn’t help improve the consumer experience of viewing the property online.
If you would like to read more about the meeting between Move.com and the NAR you can go to the Inman News site and the article. It’s a quick read and I highly recommend it. Inman New’s Associate Editor, Andrea V. Brambila wrote up the piece. Link to that piece using this link:http://www.inman.com/2013/07/23/will-nar-let-realtor-com-soar/.
The war for real estate search websites is ongoing and will probably never end as long as buyers and sellers continue to use the internet for obtaining real estate information. A few years from now there might even be a brand new real estate search website that takes the Number 1 position from Zillow. One thing is for certain, a real estate agent needs to have an online presence wherever buyers and sellers are at.