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Are third-party sites worth your marketing spend?

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Editor's note: This is the first of a three-part series. See Part 2. An issue that is becoming increasingly more contentious is the role of third-party publisher (syndication) websites such as Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow. Do these sites really serve the industry well or are they actually harming the consumer experience? The answer depends upon who is answering the question. On May 21, 2012, I attended the Hear It Direct conference in Dallas, Texas. Sue Adler and Rob Hahn provided us with a firsthand look at how buyers and sellers actually experience the listing and sales process. One of the most fascinating surprises was that the buyers and sellers interviewed had never heard of Trulia or Zillow. However, several of the buyers did mention Realtor.com as a site they had visited. How do consumers decide to hire an agent? Based upon all the real estate ads on the various third-party portals, as well as those on Google and Facebook, the real estate industry seems to have ...