These days it’s all about the reviews, isn’t it? It’s no different on Zillow and Trulia. These websites are melting pots full of real estate agents trying to gather as many reviews as they can so they can try to convince you that they are awesome!
As a 20-year veteran of the eCommerce industry I know the anatomy of reviews backwards and forwards. I know the review process all the way from its conception down to the final moment the submit button is clicked. The whole idea of reviews is a distorted, sketchy and fabricated mess in my opinion, and here are the reasons why I think so:
1.) reviews are no accident
Think about the last time you were on Trulia or Zillow. You may have seen a list of real estate agents with little stars lit up next to their name. Maybe you saw a few agents with a big mess of reviews next to their name. Maybe you’re thinking, “Wow they must be a really good real estate agent”.
Well guess what? Those reviews are not there by accident! People didn’t just voluntarily go onto Zillow or Trulia and leave a glowing review. Even if the customers did in fact have a transaction with the real estate agent with lots of reviews it is highly unlikely they left a review voluntarily. No, the Realtor asked them to put the posts there. Every review you see on Trulia or Zillow has been asked for by the real estate agent whether it be directly by the agent or indirectly through some sort of service the agent subscribes to. When you see see reviews on Zillow and Trulia please remind yourself this, the real estate agent played a big role in putting those reviews there.
2.) agents pay Zillow and Trulia
That agent with all the stars lit up next to their name? They paid to be there. Sometimes agents pay thousands per month to be featured on Zillow and Trulia. Keep this in mind before you click “contact agent”. The agent you’re about to click on might have just shelled out $2000 to Zillow so that you would click his name, and in fact, may have absolutely zero real estate experience, yet I’m sure said agent’s profile flaunts to the moon and back about their extensive experience. Would you rather a real estate agent that invests money into their online profile, or would you rather one who invests in bringing you the best real estate experience possible?
3.) agents only have their stars to offer you
So let’s say you go ahead and pick the agent with the most stars lit up beside their name. At this point if this is all the research you have done then that’s all you’re going to get. Same service, only this agent has pretty little stars next to their name. In reality you should be asking real estate agents what value will be brought to the table for you. If you asked our real estate firm this same question we’d let you know that we have a moving van you can use for free, a drone to take beautiful pictures of your home for sale, and a specific time limit to get you a contract on your house! The take away on this bullet is to search for the value in a real estate agent instead of searching for the number of stars lit up next to their name. Did you know there are websites where agents can actually buy reviews (usually at a cost of about $5 a pop) for Zillow and Trulia?
4.) many agents have a crappy website or no website at all
Click on the profiles of at least 10 of the real estate agents on Zillow/Trulia and see how many of them have true meaningful websites with rich content about the area you are searching in. Look deeper than just a real estate search and the typical lip service. Look for agents with sites that show they are immersed in the community. I’ll bet you find none. This is because many of the real estate agents that subscribe to these websites are more comfortable with shelling out a couple grand to Zillow/Trulia each month rather than doing the legwork to bring you a website that can actually show you what life is like in your prospective home-buying or home-selling area.
conclusion (aka my 2 cents)
To me what it boils down to is Trulia and Zillow are full of a bunch of real estate agents that gather reviews for themselves. As many of you know I am a strong opponent of the mere existence of Zillow and Trulia. To me both of these sites have interjected themselves into a real estate transaction that is supposed to be between a real estate agent and a client. Over the past few years these two websites have managed to siphon billons of dollars out of communities all across the country in order to feed their greedy corporate appetites. This comes at a time where most people don’t have discretionary funds available to feed a hungry advertising aggregator.
- my call to action for prospective home buyers and sellers
- my call to action for real estate agents
Zillow and Trulia agent reviews – junk!