An Agent’s Thoughts on Realtor.com

February 2, 2009

Residential

Nearly All Buyers Start Online

Nearly All Buyers Start Online

Any Real Estate agent that has been in the business for any length of time has heard of Realtor.com.  Many people outside of the real estate industry have also heard of Realtor.com.  When Realtor.com first hit the scene it was an excellent outlet to get a listing out on the internet.  That has changed rapidly however. Today it is lagging behind the likes of many sites: Zillow.com, Trulia.com, and even CraigsList.org.

Realtor.com has, in my opinion, become a somewhat dated web site with an older way of doing business. Here is how it works. When an agent gets a listing, that agent has to become a Member of Realtor.com in order for interior photos of their listing to be posted. Realtor.com calls this, Enhanced Listings. Any Realtor® or anyone who has sold their house in the age of the Internet will tell you that without interior photos, you may as well not even bother posting the listing. Most buyers, when shopping online, want to see interior photos in order to even consider a home.  Without interior photos most buyers pass it up because they do not want to waste their time.

In order to become a Member of Realtor.com, someone on the Realtor.com sales team will assess how many listings that particular agent has had in the previous year.  If you are like a typical agent in Chicago, that could be 10+ listings.  With that number a Realtor.com membership will likely run into the thousands.  If an agent had no listing the previous year, the membership to Realtor.com is less than $200.

Realtor.com Is a Tough Bill to Pay

In today’s rough economic times it makes it more difficult to become a member of Realtor.com when an agent can post their listings, with interior photos, to websites such as Zillow.com, Trulia.com, CraigsList.com, etc.  Everyone is strapped for cash these days, including real estate agents.

The bigger question is this…do the sellers expect to see interior photos on Realtor.com?  The answer is yes.  The seller can benefit from Realtor.com. Buyers that use Realtor.com will see the listing and hopefully there will be interior photos, and with that they might request a showing.

When a consumer or client signs onto Realtor.com there are many amenities on the website that are helpful.  A buyer can search for a home via city, price point, bedroom and bath count, etc.  The listings are fed to Realtor.com through the Multiple Listing Service in each particular area.  Most of the listings are accurate, however it can take a day or two for the listing to be updated in Realtor.com after a price change or if it goes under contract.  The buyer can also set up an automatic search themselves and have it sent directly to their iPhone.  There are other amenities such as having your credit checked, market conditions, local mortgage interest rates, and automated home valuation products.  From a buyer’s perspective this is the entire home shopping web site all in one.

Real Estate’s Future

What every real estate agent needs to keep in mind is that the average home buyer and seller is becoming more and more internet savvy.  With all the internet tools out there, the real estate agent needs to stay informed about every tool they have access to.  The Chicago Tribune Online posted a very interesting post today entitled, “High-Tech Inroads Point the Way to Real Estate’s Future.” This post is from the perspective of a tech savvy seller/buyer working with an agent that was not quite so up with the times.  The agent could have lost the listing due to lack of Internet marketing knowledge.  This is a pivotal time in real estate.  This market is going to weed out those agents and web sites that do not change with the times.

Illustrations by Luca Conti

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About Katie Anderson

Katie Anderson is a respected and successful broker at Sudler Sotheby’s Realty as well as a certified appraiser. She specializes in representing clients who purchase and sell condominiums, town homes, single-family homes and income property in the Chicago land area. In her small amount time in the real estate game (she became an agent in 2003) she has assisted in excess of 400 deals and over $200 million in sales and continues to use her skills as a certified appraiser. Katie resides in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood with her loving husband and 4-year-old-daughter, where she spends much of her spare time with her family and friends. You can contact her at katie@thechicago77.com or at andersonbraack.com

View all posts by Katie Anderson

3 Responses to “An Agent’s Thoughts on Realtor.com”

  1. Ben Says:

    I think realtor.com is at serious risk of dying if they don’t change. When they charge the agents to put up full listings, they make a buck in the short term, but they end up giving the buyer an inferior search experience (because half the listings are incomplete).

    What we see happening now is more and more searchers are simply opting to use competing sites. As they lose more and more traffic, they become less relevant and more agents will realize the uselessness of paying the premium, which makes the search experience even worse, and so on.

    Honestly, aside from some sellers (wrongly) demanding the enhanced listings, I am surprised that any agent would pay those rates.

  2. Catherine Brennan Says:

    Great post Katie! Nancy and I (G and B Real Estate Team) consider the $800 fee we spent to enhance our listings on Realtor.com money better spent elsewhere.

    Since the time we paid our realtor.com “dues” last summer, we have received one consumer inquiry about only one of our listings. Which tells me that consumers do not use that website as a search engine. On the flipside, I receive at least two inquiries a week about our listings through Trulia alone (not to mention other sites like Tribune.com, Zillow.com, etc…)

    Ironically, after your post on theChicago77, this blog post came out about the Trulia vs Realtor.com Challenge, and Trulia seems to be the site that Realtors and Consumers prefer as the place to post and find available real estate:
    http://www.truliablog.com/2009/01/28/take-the-trulia-challenge/

    So thank you Katie for putting that information out there!

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