I watched this video from a one certain Mr. Jim Abbott, broker and President of Abbot Realty Group. In the video he took a dim view of Real Estate aggregator sites like zillow, trulia, and Realtytrac, and spoke of restricitng the access of these sites to our listing data. He made several strong points:
On every point he made strong arguments. 1) These sites do use a form of fear to induce an agent to buy their lead generation and marketing products. This is true. 2) The accuracy of the data is suspect., 3) They ARE stealing our property and they do not compensate us for helping to build their brand, but rather they demand we pay THEM!, 4) They do present a false picture of the market and may (but I think this is a long shot) distort current market values.
HOWEVER, that all being said, I think the aggregators sites offer tremendous value to both agents and brokers, a value that I think makes the good outweigh the GLARING bad. 1) While fear is a common technique I've experienced, let's not forget that not only are we councilors of real estate, we are as well salespersons. If a salesperson buys an item or service they neither need and what and as well pay far more for that service than it's true value then that salesperson isn't worth her salt and shouldn't be in the business anyway. 2) The inaccuracy of the data present me personally with opportunites to "get it right" for the prospect, be a hero and make the sale (BOOYAH!) 3) Theft, yes, but theft that you too can steal back if your savy enough, yes, yes, yes. Let me explain. Right now I'm programming another website from scratch. This one aimed exclusively at buyers. I simply refuse to be enshackled by an IDX provider to run my virtual office. I refuse, but what am I to do to give eye candy to buyers, a cohort that now fully ebntrenched in the internet age, has little pateince for "non moving" websites? I tell you what I do, I modify the widgets, and utilize their (aggregators) raw data to create my own IDX system that sends me leads, yes from their data. You can do this too with a little elbow grease, and you as well can give your favorite one finger salute to the robber barrons known as IDX solution providers. They steal, I steal back. All is fair, right? 8) 4) Once again the zillow presentation of inaccurate market data presents opportunites to display one's expertise. Listen I don't know about you, but I get paid to do a CMA or BPO. I don't do those for free, because I take them seriously. Someone not willing to pay for a serious evaluation of a home I send to zillow and tell them to call me when they are ready to be serious. Ok, I'm not that crass, but essentailly that's what it boils down to. They call me back sometimes, they pay me always. If the data on aggregators were correct that would be a lost income stream for me.
In the end, given the merits and limitations of Mr. Abbott's postion I'll continue to choose for the aggregators. Shutting them off would raise the cost of entry and operation or the small firm. Aggregators or syndicators allow small firms to grow into the role of a big firm, and allow them to look big while doing it. As a small firm grows, perhaps utilizing the tools and resources provided by the aggregators, they can branch out into more specilized and exclusive forms of marketing. Shutting out the aggregators would force more agents to remain as such while large brokerages gain complete marketshare,, leaving no room for small and new innovators who themselves aim to knock the big guys off their thrones. No I vote for keeping the aggregators despite their egregious crimes against us.