In Field of Dreams, a movie about the last Great American Pastime before Internet Cruising, Shoeless Joe Jackson tells Kevin Costner's character, "Build it. He (They) will come." But does this advice hold for Real Estate Websites, the Realtor's Field of Internet Dreams?
Recently 2 Websites, Trulia and Zillow, have been fighting it out for dominance in the Online Real Estate Marketplace. Trulia leads with comScore's unique visitor rankings, while Zillow leads on Hitwise's market share numbers. together these sites have more traffic than any Real Estate Website other than the NAR and Move's Website, Realtor.com.
Zillow, the Seattle start-up, generates a Web-page for almost every home in the US with a "CMA Light", called a Zestimate in about 10 seconds. "Quick and Dirty" is getting better as the computer algorithm improves and their data is more current. Zillow relies on Owners, Agents and Brokers to supply their listing data, has their own increased-traffic algorithm to spot homes for sale and a recent contract with 11 Newspaper Syndicates to supply their listing data. (But only 10% of homes for sale ever appear in the papers.)
Trulia, from San Francisco, started as a mapping mash-up and has proceeded to dominate street address searches on Google for all the homes Agents and Brokers push out to them. Trulia's Web-pages and domain names are optimized for the street address and any part of the street address. Trulia's SEO (Search Engine Optimization) generates a great deal of Google Search Traffic. I guess this makes Pete Flint the "SEO CEO", at least of Real Estate.
In Western New York, many people have heard of Zillow, but few have heard of Trulia. I guess they haven't searched on the home address or Zip Code of the property they're looking for recently.
The big questions for these Real Estate Verticals with Ad-Sale Models are:
- Once built, will they come?
- Once they come, will they click?
Since Trulia and Zillow are privately held, they don't have to reveal their CTR (click-through-rate). And always remember there are: "Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, and Real Estate Numbers", and my other favorite Real Estate sayings and advice:
- "If you can't be #1 in your niche, find a new niche."
- "You've got to be number one in something."
- "Ninety-five percent of all Real Estate numbers are made upon the spot."
Locally (WNY), few Agents and Brokers have taken up Trulia and Zillow's free offers to post Agent contact information and pictures. I'm surprised when I search on Google for the addresses of some of the most expensive properties in Rochester.There is no Agent information (free to the agent) on the Trulia page for that address. As Trulia and Zillow get bigger and dominate the market, it may not only be dumb, but also become a violation of our fiduciary responsibilities to our clients to not put our contact information on the Trulia and Zillow listing Web-pages.
Western New York is still pretty conservative. Many Realtors are still suspicious of Zillow. They're not as suspicious of Trulia, because Trulia gives maps and general information. Realtors don't see Trulia as much of a direct threat as Zillow, which provides a Virtual CMA.
Build it. They will come, for Real Estate?
We'll soon see for Trulia, Zillow and Real Estate.
The buyers eyes are coming, but how soon the Agents, the Brokers and the Advertisers Dollars?
Posted by: Cliff Jacobson
Adapt Or Die!
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