Third Party Websites and the Wedge Effect….

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May 26, 2011

Last Saturday I was busy prepping a property for  listing.  The owner no is no longer local – so after supervising the sanding and refinishing of floors, painting and the rehab of a bathroom – I went in with a cleaning lady complete my vacuum cleaning and other cleaning supplies since the home is now empty.   These are some of the activities that can and often are, associated with listing a home.

At some point during the process, I got  a phone call.  I was expecting a couple of calls and stupidly did not notice that it was an 800 number.  It was a representative from  what we refer to as a “third-party-site.”   Such a site is  basically a web site with a fairly good “mousetrap” that somehow convinces the unsuspecting public to logon and give up their name, email address and perhaps even their phone number.  Very often the site promises to find the unsuspecting buyer or seller an agent that is an  area “expert”  who supposedly knows the location they are interested in  the inside and out.    What the prospective buyer or seller doesn’t realize is that most (but not all) of these sites are simply mills that collect buyer and seller information and “sell” the information for an agent willing or desperate enough to give up enough of their commission to satisfy what appears to be an insatiable appetite.

Real estate agents are middle men…

Sure – I admit it –  a real estate agent is the ultimate middle man.  Hate us all  you want – and I know a lot of people do – but in spite of that status – we serve a purpose.  Because we are local – we are boots on the ground and we understand our markets (our SHOULD) inside and out.  We don’t have crystal balls – but we do have insight as to trends in the market.  One of biggest jobs is to move the transactions we are involved in forward in as smoothly and with as little theatrics and drama as possible.  Most buyers and sellers find moving emotionally and physically draining – so minimizing drama, understanding what can and can not be done and keeping all the moving parts together prevents a demanding experience from becoming a nightmare.  In the case such as the listing mentioned above, we spend hours just prepping the home so that it can go on the market.  It’s a great business to be in – but it is far more time -consuming than our clients would ever suspect.

Man in the middle of the middle man…

When it comes to a website such as the one above….I fail to see the value they offer to the consumer.   They are generally flush with venture capital so they can create a site that has the one thing an agent site will never possess – sheer size.   And that SIZE gives them Google juice  – and they use that ability to rank on Google and other search engines to simply wedge themselves between the client and the agent.  This, they think will allow them to help themselves to a very large chunk of the real estate pie. To me – in a world full of middle men – this is the ultimate useless middle man.  If their site wasn’t there, the prospective client would have found  their way to a local agent directly.  Since most of these sites use only the willingness to fork over large sums of money as their criteria for an “area expert”  they bring absolutely zero to the table in the form of value for the client.

They are literally like a toll bridge that stands between the agent and the consumer – and to access the consumer – the agent pays – and pays dearly.

What does this mean for the consumer???

Why should the consumer care?  At the end of the day – third party sites raise the cost of doing business for the agent and that either raises the price for the consumer or lessens the service we can offer.  It would certainly place a very strict cap on marketing a listing.  Further, since many of these sites will release the client information to many agents – none of whom have been vetted for any real experience – you will find your in-box filled with messages and promotionals from a mob of agents that include  the good, the bad and the ugly.  Since most people sign onto such sites thinking they are getting a vetted professional – this is hardly helpful.

And now back to my story…

As to the sales rep that called me – since I don’t mind paying for someone or something that offers a service of value  – I asked him what he was offering  and  what  this was supposed to do to enhance the transaction.   In this case they were offering a name and email address – and they would reserve the right  to give the same information to other agents as well.  “So all you are offering is a basic “lead” with a name and email address?” Yup – that was about it.   Further, he wanted so much commission that they would take in more than many agents would get after their brokerage was paid.  I told him to get lost.

© 2011 – Ruthmarie G. HIcks – – All rights reserved.

Please feel free to contact me anytime to request additional information or to set up an appointment so we can explore your listing or purchasing needs. I am easy to reach by phone, text or email. Or, if you just want to continue your search online, the links below will help you get started.

Phone/Text: 914-374-5529


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