Edina Realty Takes on the Third Party Aggregators, Cont.

If you’re joining the action “already in progress,” as it were, here’s what you missed:  Edina Realty announced 10 days ago that it was pulling its listings from third-party aggregators such as Trulia.

Then all Hell broke loose.

See,Edina Realty Steals a Page From Southwest Airlines, the NFL, etc.”; “Edina Realty Pulls the Plug on Trulia.com“; and “Selling Realtors’ Listings Back to Them.”

Why all the controversy?

Because Edina Realty is rocking the boat.

It’s upsetting the way residential real estate is increasingly marketed and sold, through online sites like Trulia and Zillow.

Tail Wagging Dog

These companies initially carved out niches — and now threaten to swallow the entire real estate industry — by serving as a front end to the home buying and selling process.

In essence, the Trulia’s of the world act like Google-for-home-buyers, serving up a national, “one-stop shopping” database of homes for sale, with convenient links to agents, lenders, etc.

What’s not to like?

Wedge Between Brokers, Consumers

If you’re a consumer, practically nothing (or so it appears initially*).

However, if you’re a broker — especially one such as Edina Realty, with a market-leading 21% share of all Twin Cities listings — quite a bit, actually.

Starting with the fact that Trulia makes its living selling your information, while at the same time it charges your agents to reach its — your(!) — customers.

Example:  1604 Rome

Exhibit A:  when I go to Google and do a search on my current listing at 1604 Rome Ave. in St. Paul (pictured above), what do you expect hit #1 is?

Trulia’s profile of my client’s home.

It’s all there:  photos, room measurements, property taxes, neighborhood information, etc. — everything, it would seem, except my name and Edina Realty’s (in the fine print at the end, if you look for it).

Instead, prominently displayed in the upper right corner of the page is the photo and contact info for a ReMax agent — my competition!  (wonder how much he paid Trulia to put his ad there?)

So what?

Harm to Edina Realty, Edina Realty Agents

Let me count the ways (three, in fact) that the foregoing harms Edina Realty and its 2,000-plus Twin Cities agents:

One.  Misrepresentation.  If you’re looking for a home on Trulia and see the ReMax agent’s photo and contact info next to a listing, you might logically conclude that they’re the listing agent (and you should contact them to find out about the home).

They’re not.

I am.

There’s a name for that sort of practice; it’s called, “misleading advertising.”

Two.  Poaching my business.

Of course, the ReMax agent is paying up for that prime placement on Trulia (nice alliteration, huh?) because he hopes to attract Buyers interested in my listing.

Clicks lead to emails and phone calls; emails and phone calls lead to showings; and showings ultimately result in closings and commissions.

Which is how I make my living.

Starting to see what’s at stake here??

Three. Misappropriating my data (nice name for “stealing”).

So, why should the public care if Trulia and the ReMax agent “win” in the marketplace and Edina Realty and I lose?

Value-Added Subtracted

Start with this:  who do you think paid for the photos of the home that showed up on Trulia?


Who had the home staged prior to the photos?


Who walked the client through the listing contract and Seller Disclosure; drafted the marketing copy that appears on Trulia; and measured the home and otherwise verified the data that appears on Trulia?

Try . . . . me.

Can you say, “hoist by my own petard?”

When it’s clear that you’re being hung with your own rope, the rational response is to .  . . stop providing rope!

“Petards” — and Listing Info

If the ReMax agents of the world can consistently capture the leads and prospective business from my work product, just by paying Trulia an advertising fee, what do you think happens in the long run?

Brokers like Edina Realty — and the training, expertise, and full service they provide — go away.

And Realtors like yours truly are displaced by Realtors whose business model isn’t to provide full service . . . but to buy ads on Trulia.

*What do you think happens to the quality of the data on Trulia if/when they succeed in undermining the brokers and Realtors who supply it?

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.
1 Response
  1. I could not disagree with your assessment. I see these sites as nothing more than lead aggregators who profit from my work product. I am beginning to see a routine lack of accurate information, a difficulty in correcting misleading data (especially when trying to “reclaim” my listings…wow that’s a weird concept) as well as an overall disservice to the public which makes the home buying and selling process more murky than it needs to be. And currently in my market (the SF Bay Area) buyer leads are worthless. 6…12…14 and even 24 offers are happening in a short period of time. All real estate is local. Find someone you trust and work with them. It is still, and IMO will always be, a “belly to belly” business.

Leave a Reply