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That’s right.  I said it.  Zillow SUCKS.  And I also refuse to say their name for the rest of this blog post so I will be referring to them as from this point forward… 

Read on to find out why I’m on a rant about the “largest online real estate network”.

If you have ever had a conversation with me longer than 3 minutes, you already know that I think this giant “online real estate marketplace” sucks. I will gladly go into all of the reasons why, but before I do, I want you to know what prompted me to write about it today…

One of my agents: an amazing, competent and experienced Realtor, came to me the other day worried about how she can serve her buyer if he can just find listings on the Zillow app.  She felt insecure about how she could compete with this monster website.  We had a long conversation about her worth and what she has to offer. It took some pointing out to remind her why a website and its algorithm are no match for her.  

They’re not even close.  

A. How Zillow Screws the Real Estate Agents:

Zillow simply buys our MLS (that’s Multiple Listing Service for you non-agents out there) information through a syndication agreement and posts it on their own web site. They spend lots and lots of money to be placed as number one on Google search pages so that when a consumer is searching for real estate services, Zillow comes up first.

Zillow brags all over the place about how they are number one. All of this Google advertising costs big bucks, so how does Zillow afford it?  That’s where you and your credit card come in.  If you click on the Zillow web siteand inquire about advertising, this is what you get:  

Become a Premier Agent Today! Get in front of buyers and sellers in the largest online real estate network.

Check out this handy infographic to see how we all get screwed.  

Zillow Agents

But it goes something like this: 

1.  You work your ass off to get a listing.

2.  You put it in MLS (which you pay dues for).

3.  MLS syndicates it to Z (which MLS charges Z for).

4.  A consumer clicks on property and gets matched with a “Premier Agent” – we will call him AGENT X. (X pays Z).

5.  You don’t get any leads from your own listing because another agent paid Z, so you decide to pay to become a “Premier Agent”.

6.  Then a consumer clicks on agent X’s property and the lead goes to you.


You and X each wrote big checks to Z so could swap your leads.

I will NEVER write a check to Z.….ZILLOW SUCKS!!!

They are pitting us against each other and making a giant profit from it. They claim that we are doing a disservice to our clients if we do not syndicate on Z. They claim that is where everyone goes to look at property. But you can go on many agent or company websites, including my own, and search the ENTIRE MLS for free through IDX.

B. 6 Ways Zillow Screws the Client:

Here’s what Zillow has to offer to clients

1.  Poor Matchmaking: No.1 Reason Zillow Sucks

Real estate is a people business, and a client deserves a skilled and knowledgeable agent who is the right fit to guide them through this important and complicated transaction. Z matches clients with an agent without any kind of vetting except for how much money the Premier Agent pays to Z

2.  Algorithms in Lieu of Actual Knowledge

How is this in the best interest of the consumer? It isn’t. It is in the best interest of Z. And guess who founded Z?  No… not real estate agents.  It was tech people. How do tech people know anything about authentic face to face client relationships in real estate?  They don’t.  But they do know a creepy amount about internet technology and algorithms.

3.  Zestimates??: Another One To Vouch Zillow Sucks

While I’m on my soapbox, what the f*@k is a zestimate?  Who made up that word and what does it even mean? How can a website or algorithm know what your house is worth? Real Estate is hyper local.   Clients, whether buyers or sellers, need and deserve an actual human being, who is a licensed professional, to help them figure out how much to sell or buy a house for. Agents don’t apply a formula and guess at the value of your home.   

This is quite possibly your largest investment as well as your retirement fund!  Licensed agents take you and your home seriously.  It’s their job to do the necessary specialized research to help you price your home. They go see your home, they view the competition, they’ve probably been inside and may have even sold some of the other houses on your block. What has the largest online real estate network done besides pay Google to be placed at the top of every search page?

4. Leaving out Important Details

Zillow claims that consumers don’t really want agents; that they don’t need us. I call BS.  If matching buyers and sellers were the only role we play, then sure, a web site could replace us.  

If you’re an agent who thinks that you don’t have added value, or, if you’re a client who doesn’t get why you need a real live agent… let’s make a little list to remind us of just a few of the many things an agent does for a client that no web site could ever do:

 Prepare an offer and explain all the moving parts.

 Guide clients through the mortgage and inspection process.

 Listen to clients and help them figure out what they really want and what their motivations are so you can find them the best home.

 Prepare sellers with tough love on how to get their property ready for market.

 Offer them emotional support (they often need it).

 Introduce them to other professionals on your team that will help them though this process out of best interest for the client rather than for an advertising fee (like does).

 Have actual experience and first hand knowledge of the neighborhood and the housing stock.

 Become a true friend.

 Comply with the law and all the legal aspects of the transaction.

Abide by local customs and practices 

5.  Outdated or Just Plain Inaccurate Listing Information

Zillow sucks because their information is often outdated and frequently just plain wrong. As a client, this means you might get excited about a property you see on Z that seems to be the right price and checks all the boxes on your list.  You get your hopes up only to find out that the property was already sold or that the listing information is completely wrong.  It’s a waste of your time and energy.  

A true Real Estate Agent can easily set you up with an up to the minute search with accurate information straight from the MLS. Some brokers and realtors have IDX, so you can search more accurate listings straight from their websites.  For free.  And at your leisure. 

6.  Falsehoods and Deceit 

Once the consumer is on the Z site and clicks on a property they are interested in, Z matches them with what they call a “Premier Agent” instead of the actual listing agent for the property. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, premier means “best or most important”.   

Wait… what?!? 

So, a consumer wants to see a property, clicks on it on Z, and, like magic, gets the BEST and most important agent to help them?  Even though this agent probably has nothing to do with the listing?  Ummm….  this just seems wrong.  

So let’s narrow down my rant about Z and other similar “online real estate market places” to a palatable little summary: 

  Zillow is horrible to both agents and clients.

  The website charges agents for leads then matches them with clients based on how much the agent pays Zillow, rather than the client’s needs…. This seems like a conflict of interest to me. 

  They do all of this without being held accountable or by obtaining a real estate license (as required in all 50 states) and without ever meeting the client and discussing their needs. 

  Real estate is a people business, but Z is all about the Benjamins and nobody else. 

  Agents are required by licensure law to put the needs of the client ABOVE AND BEYOND THEIR OWN.  This is the basis for the laws of fiduciary. How does an enormous computer algorithm possibly compete with this personal care? Simply said, they can’t. 

Consumers need to be educated on this and not just buy into the expensive technology that uses to lure them in to their faceless apps and algorithms.  

So..  What do you think?  

Do you love Zillow or think it’s shady?  I’d love to hear your thoughts. Scroll down past the related posts to leave a message in the comment section