Survey shows most brokers don’t fear Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com, but they get most leads elsewhere

Most are 'somewhat satisfied' with leads, but many wish agents would do better follow-up

A survey of real estate brokers’ attitudes toward national listing portals like Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com shows that while most don’t feel threatened by them, they’re not depending all that heavily on them for new business, either.

The survey, by Bellevue, Wash.-based Imprev Inc., a provider of integrated marketing tools, also found that while brokers are generally satisfied with the quality of “leads” they get from national sites, they’re less thrilled with the job their agents do following up on them.

Paralyzed by fear image via Shutterstock.
Paralyzed by fear image via Shutterstock.

The bottom line was that brokers still see traditional methods of drumming up business like open houses, yard signs, walk-in business and getting in touch with past clients as a better value than national portals.

The online survey of more than 260 brokers and franchise executives, conducted in October,  found that among the top three national listing portals — Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com — realtor.com was seen in the most positive light.

That’s perhaps not surprising, given the site’s formal ties to the National Association of Realtors. Zillow, Trulia and other property search portals not operated by a real estate broker are often referred to by industry insiders as “third-party” websites.

While 24 percent of those surveyed had a “negative” (8 percent) or “somewhat negative” (16 percent) view of realtor.com in terms of how the site impacts or could impact their business, Zillow and Trulia tallied higher “fear factor” scores.

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About 45 percent of those surveyed had a negative (16 percent) or somewhat negative view (29 percent) of Zillow’s impact or potential impact on their business, compared with 37 percent who viewed Trulia in a negative (14 percent) or somewhat negative (23 percent) light.

Another way of looking at those numbers is that 76 percent of those surveyed had positive or neutral view of realtor.com, 64 percent saw Trulia in a positive or neutral light, and 55 percent felt the same way about Zillow.

Breaking those results down by company, 47 percent of brokers held a positive view about realtor.com, with 4 percent describing their view of the portal as “highly positive,” 21 percent “positive,” and 22 percent “somewhat positive.” Another 29 percent were neutral.

Trulia got the next best marks from brokers — 37 percent had a positive view of the company, with 2 percent describing themselves as “highly positive,” 18 percent “positive” and 17 percent “somewhat positive.” Another 27 percent were neutral.

Zillow scored the lowest, with 32 percent positive marks — 2 percent of brokers said they had a “highly positive” view of the company’s impact or potential impact on their business, 15 percent had a “positive” view, and 15 percent were “somewhat positive.” Another 23 percent were neutral about Zillow.

Only 3 percent of those surveyed said they depended on national listing portals for half or more of their new business leads. Eight out of 10 said third-party search portals accounted for less than 20 percent of their business.

Brokers were much more likely to rely on their own websites, referrals and past clients for leads, with 67 percent reporting those sources accounting for half or more of their leads.

The vast majority of brokers surveyed were satisfied with the quality of leads they receive from national listing portals — 71 percent characterized themselves as “somewhat satisfied” and 8 percent said they were “very satisfied.” Only 1 in 5 (21 percent) said they were “not at all satisfied” with the quality of leads.

But more than one-third (37 percent) said they were “not at all satisfied” with the way their agents were following up on those leads. While most (53 percent) said they “somewhat satisfied” with agents’ follow-up on leads, only 10 percent were “very satisfied.”

While traditional lead generation sources like open houses, yard signs and walk-in business were considered an “exceptional value” by 63 percent of brokers surveyed, only 35 percent said the same about their own websites or those run by franchisors. Social media was considered an “exceptional value” by 11 percent of brokers, while 2 percent felt that way about realtor.com, Trulia or Zillow.

“Considering the millions of dollars paid every month to the online lead providers, these results were not what we expected,” said Imprev CEO Renwick Congdon in a statement accompanying the release of the survey.

About 4 in 10 (41 percent) brokers viewed realtor.com as a “reasonable value” as a source of leads, compared with 32 percent who saw Trulia that way and 31 percent for Zillow.

Half of brokers surveyed said they spend 10 to 30 percent of their marketing budget on leads — only 24 percent said they spend more than that. Most (52 percent) provide leads to agents at no cost to the agent, while 24 percent charge a separate fee and 15 percent expect a better split on transactions stemming from a lead they’ve provided. Only a few — 8 percent — said they don’t provide leads to agents.

About 70 percent survey respondents oversee brokerages with more than 100 agents; 26 percent have more than 500 agents; and 12 percent have more than 1,000 agents.

The survey also asked for brokers’ views about Redfin, a technology-based brokerage that operates a website that’s popular with consumers in markets where the firm has listings data. While only 8 percent of brokers had a positive view of the company, nearly half (44 percent) were neutral, while 25 percent were “somewhat negative” and 23 percent “negative” (23 percent).


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