The Listing Agent Minefield – Should I choose my agent from Zillow’s list of premier agents?

Hudson Harbor - Tarrytown NY
Hudson Harbor of Tarrytown NY – “American Dream Home” Hosted by Westchester Magazine…
October 24, 2012
The Listing Agent Minefield – “Everyone I know lists with ‘Big Box Brokerage’ so they must be the best”
October 28, 2012

Oh brother – Don’t even get me started.  Well, I actually was the one that started this – so I will finish it and tell you what I really think.  I have a profile on Zillow – barely – and I certainly post my listings there because my sellers deserve the exposure.  But I won’t play the Zillow – or Trulia game.

What exactly is a “premier agent”? I think most buyers and sellers think that there is some nice person or department at Zillow headquarters that carefully culls the lists of agents and offers premier positions to agents that have strong track records in each particular location.  I hate to burst your bubble on this, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I get calls weekly from the likes of Zillow and Trulia asking me if I would like to buy a position as a premier agent in a given area.   Now, sometimes they have called me for regions where I have no sales history whatsoever.  They had an opening and was hoping I’d be gullible enough to pop for it.  That’s right – these postions goe to those willing to cough up the cash.

This would not necessarily be a bad thing  as long as those that chose to work with Zillow or Truila were the same people that had the track record in these locations.  But actually the opposite is true.  Zillow and Trulia are not charging token fees – they sell these positions for a premium price (often hundreds a month) for specific zip codes. Most agents have to work in quite a few zip codes, so this can add up to a great deal of coin.  Why would agents who already have a track record and a following spend hundreds a month for a premier position when they are already established as a name? The answer is that they don’t.  You may get the occasional one or two because they were too lazy to build an independent web presence.  From my observation,   most of  these agents fall into two categories:

  • Agents who are brand new and need to get their name out there somehow.  They have no track record at all.
  • Experienced agents trying to expand their geographical range into areas where they have no sales track record.

There is another issue here, lurking beneath the surface.   At the end of the day, what does this do for the buyer or seller?  What does this do for the agent?  For the buyer and seller – it does nothing at best and can be misleading at worst.  For the agent, it raises the already very high cost of doing business.  (One of the reasons agents are so “overpaid” is that we take on considerable expense promoting ourselves and our listings.  We also spend large amounts of time and money on buyers who are really tire-kickers.)   The funding is finite; it is not a bottomless pit – so these sites are siphoning funds from advertising the listing in favor of promoting the agent.    These large sites are revenue eating monsters and the very definition of the useless middle man.   They raise the cost of doing business and contribute NOTHING to the overall process.  In fact, given the inaccuracies that are rampant on both sites with over a quarter of the listings no longer active in most cases, and the misleading zestimates, these sites can actually throw monkey wrenches into the buying and selling process.

Other posts in “The Listing Agent Minefield” series…

  1. The Listing Agent Minefield…Choosing a listing agent without losing your mind…
  2. The Listing Agent Minefield – Is a “local” or “hyperlocal” agent really that important?
  3. The Listing Agent Minefield – The more listings the agent has the better! Right?
  4. The Listing Agent Minefield – Should I choose my agent from Zillow’s list of premier agents?
  5. The Listing Agent Minefield – “Everyone I know lists with ‘Big Box Brokerage’ so they must be the best”
  6. The Listing Agent Minefield – Whatever happened to internet transparency?

© 2012 – Ruthmarie G. Hicks – – All rights reserved.



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