The top executive at realtor.com’s parent company said agents remain essential customers for listing portals, even as companies offer services to buyers and sellers.

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The top executive behind realtor.com pushed back Thursday against public skepticism that online real-estate portals don’t have agents’ best interests at heart.

Move Inc. CEO David Doctorow said working with a listing agent remains the “right answer for most people,” and is the most common outcome of realtor.com’s Seller’s Marketplace service, even as the site remains committed to informing homeowners of alternatives.

“Our agents are our customers,” Doctorow said. “Our angle for that is to help agents grow their businesses.”

Doctorow’s comments at Inman Connect Las Vegas touched on how his company balances the interests of different portal users — which include various agents, buyers and sellers — alongside those of the company’s business partners.

Sellers in particular face more options than they did in years past, Doctorow said. When a seller visits realtor.com, the site works to help them navigate the slew of options.

Most of the time, this process results in referring consumers to a listing agent, Doctorow said. 

But for some sellers, an instant cash offer from Opendoor — one of realtor.com’s partners — might make more sense, he said. And for sellers who are looking to buy another home as well, technological innovation is creating even more options for consumers. 

“Knowing that [these options are] there can help people feel more confident that they’re getting the full picture,” Doctorow said. “That will yield confidence, which is good for everyone.”

Earlier in the day, CoStar CEO Andy Florance took the stage at Inman Connect and accused at least one rival listing portal of “hijacking” listings, requiring agents to pay a monthly fee in order to prevent the platform from selling their listing as a lead to other agents. 

When Brad Inman asked Florance if he was alluding to Zillow when he referred to this hypothetical company as “Ziltern,” Florance did not deny it.

Doctorow said realtor.com is different from Zillow because it’s not in the iBuying business, and doesn’t face those same incentives as a listing portal that makes direct cash offers on homes. 

But the executive was unapologetic about his company’s mission to serve the interests of non-agent consumers, arguing that the portal has “a fundamental belief” that buyers and sellers should have access to independent advice.

Still, agents remain essential consumers for the business, Doctorow said.

“We are here to succeed together,” he said. “We are not trying to take commissions out of the system. We are not trying to shift commissions to us.”

Email Daniel Houston

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