Bret Calltharp, the director of industry outreach at Zillow is moving on from the Seattle-based real estate tech company, he announced Friday.
Calltharp, who joined the company after Jay Thompson’s retirement in July 2018, plans to return to his roots working with agents and brokers in some capacity, but on Monday he had no immediate position to announce.
Calltharp told Inman at Zillow’s Unlock conference in Las Vegas that working with agents and brokers through Zillow at various conferences, eventually reminded him of what he loves about this industry.
“Every time I was in these spaces, it’s just my nature that we talk business and we talk shop and I would find myself saying, ‘Hey, have you tried this or, you know, maybe if you use this product and try this strategy you might be surprised what happens,'” Calltharp said.
“I noticed that I started having a lot of Premier Agents that would send me messages saying, ‘Hey, do you mind if I send over some collateral I’m working on?’ And it really reminded me of what I love about this industry. To me, it’s working with entrepreneurs to help them to be better at what they do.”
Much of Calltharp’s job as the director of industry outreach was to correct the record and engage with what the company perceives as misconceptions about what they do and where the business is headed.
There’s two specific categories that most of the pre-conceived notions about Zillow fall into, according to Calltharp. The first is re-trying old battles and that’s where the complaint about Zillow selling agents their own listings comes from.
“Our industry has a way of glorifying the past and the good old days and, you know, a lot of agents would love it if we went back to the days that you’d have to pull out the listing book and that’s how you found things,” Calltharp said.
He said he always responds the same way, reminding agents that every brokerage in their market displays all the listings of their rivals. And they aren’t usually passing an interested buyer off to another brokerage that reaches out about another brokerage’s listing.
“Zillow exists because the duty of the listing agent has to provide their clients listing the highest exposure to the most people possible because statistically, that means that we should get the highest and best offer,” Calltharp added.
The other common misconceptions come from brokers and agents trying to figure out what Zillow’s future intentions are. Calltharp admitted it’s a difficult task, because the company is always trying to stay in front of the consumer and that means taking chances and figuring out the next steps every day.
Calltharp told Inman he never believed the hype from Zillow’s detractors, even when he was working in the brokerage and franchise space. Working at Zillow for more than a year gave him a chance to verify that for himself.