Agents’ love-hate relationship with Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com

by Jason Porterfield

People outside the real estate business might not even realize that syndication sites provide services for agents as well. While it is still true that the sites compete with agents, many agents have learned how to use the features offered to generate business. Granted, they have to pay the sites for the privilege of being associated with their own listings, but each website offers its own paid lead generation options for agents.

“Overall, it’s the exposure to the consumer that agents like about them,” Geller says. “There is a very specific group of agents who like the opportunity to purchase different ZIP codes to generate leads, but the sites are also producing some really good content. From local markets to the market over all for the industry, agents can really use and repurpose it for their own content to provide commentary. Both realtor.com and Zillow have gotten to the point where the quality of the content they are putting out is at a very high level.”

Realtor.com offers agents who are NAR members the option to claim their site-generated profiles for free through a simple authentication process. Free features include personalization options, such as profile and background photos, areas of specialization and biographical information, which function as search engine optimization features. There are also tools that make it easy to generate referrals and post testimonials. Added boons include the array of contact options, display options for certifications and the ability to link to blogs and social media accounts.

In addition to those features, realtor.com includes the option of publishing recommendations from the RealSatisfied customer service app.

“Leveraging reviews is like leveraging any other positive content,” Geller says. “They can include it in their profile, they can share it via social media or blog posts. They can make a story out of a testimonial that somebody wrote.” She says that she started using RealSatisfied “not too long ago,” and prior to that, she was focusing on Zillow. “I decided I prefer the data I’m getting from RealSatisfied, and being able to leverage that data.”

Zillow also gives agents the option of creating a free profile by registering with the site. By registering, they get top placement on their active listings, providing free exposure on a site with an enormous audience. Like realtor.com, the free Zillow profile gives the agent customization options and the ability to market their experience, areas of expertise and positive reviews.

Meanwhile, Trulia provides the same options as Zillow, giving agents the ability to claim listings, join a directory, automatically generate weekly “Client Listing Reports” for sellers and answer questions from buyers and sellers. The site’s free features also include access to Trulia’s iPhone app, giving agents the ability to have leads sent to their phone and to check in to the homes they have toured.


Pay to Play

The free options offered by each site can work well for agents. However, they also present agents with the tantalizing option of paying to upgrade and buy more exposure. Controversially, the pay options include the opportunity to buy up ZIP codes, a maneuver that can place agents among those shown for a property that they are not actively listing.

Continued on next page >>

Read More Related to This Post


  • Sheryl Duncan says:

    If they could manage to get the home info right…it would be a different story!!!! The home owner thinks the agent has put in the wrong data. They are an ongoing source of problems for the listing realtor. The best one thkugh is when they put a price on the home without ever seeing it!!!!!! Don’t know why realtors put up with it!!!!!!!!!

  • David price says:

    Looks like Chicago agent magazine has drink the Kool-Aid of Trulia and Zillow

  • Thanks for your comment, David! We took a balanced view of the syndication sites, and throughout the story, our terrific sources explain the pros/cons of all three; definitely let us know, though, if there is some aspect of the topic that you think we missed.

  • David Barr says:

    Corrine Guest nailed it. It absolutely blows my mind that agents are actually giving up control of their own marketing to unlicensed 3rd parties like Zillow and Trulia, and then paying for the privilege of paying them to get leads from their own listings. What this article doesn’t mention that Realtor listings and FSBO (for sale by owner listings) are co-mingled on Zillow. The licensed agent has no control over an unreliable FSBO listing in the same neighborhood as one of their listings, which can negatively affect property values.


Join the conversation

New Subscribe