If you’re like most home buyers, you hop on Google and type in something along the lines of “Homes for sale in X” (with X being the name of the town you are looking in).
Bam! You click on Zillow and start cursing around their listings. You spend a lot of time at this step. Many hours over the course of the next week or two is spent narrowing down your choices until you find the perfect handful or houses.
You take the next step and you contact the real estate agents associated with the listings. One of them gets back to you only for you to find out that the listings you picked out are long gone–off the market for months.
But now you’re stuck with this realtor that you know nothing about, and they were only in your view because they paid Zillow for the lead.
You’ve just been had. It’s the old “bait and switch.” This is not the way you find a good realtor. So the real estate game has essentially been boiled down to realtors paying companies like Zillow to get leads from faulty listings.
From the agent’s perspective, they feel like they are a hostage to the big listing providers. In many markets the local agents have been crowded out on search engines by companies like Zillow.
They feel like if they don’t pay up, they can’t get leads.
Agents are essentially being rewarded not for being good agents and taking care of their customers–they are being rewarded based on their ability to pay off the big listing sites.