There’s nothing like becoming an ACTUAL customer of a product to give you a different perspective. I have looked at Zillow and other third party sites a gazillion times in my career as a consultant, but it took actually selling a home to really open my eyes.
We held onto our home in Buffalo, New York for a long time after moving to California. This year we finally decided to sell it. Once the home was live on third party sites, I became very interested in the agents who were featured on the property. I called each one to experience what a potential buyer might.
Here’s what happened:
First, every one of the premiere agents and my listing agent called me back within minutes. This is not the normal response time I have experience in the past, so I was very pleased. Checkmark for all of them on responsiveness.
Now let’s get to the area that was very troublesome to me. I asked each agent to tell me a bit more about the house. I wanted to see how much they actually knew about the property. Had they visited it? Were they familiar with the neighborhood? The town? The Street?
I was very disappointed to find out that NONE of the premiere agents had been in the house or even in the neighborhood recently. They knew nothing about the property. They were simply using my property to troll for potential buyers. They were not experts in any way regarding the community or property they were representing.
Now all of us in the industry know that agents simply buy zip codes, towns or price points but the average consumer doesn’t know that. I believe that a consumer could think that everyone who is represented on a listing would have at least some cursory knowledge of the property and of the area. That was NOT the case.
I came away very angry. I signed a listing agreement with ONE agent, NOT four agents? How dare the other three pretend to know my property when they didn’t have a clue? Once I brought the emotion and personal pride that homeowners feel about their listing, my perspective of the site completely changed.
Then I took it another step. I called Zillow and asked for the three non-expert agents on my listing to be removed. I believe you know the answer I received to that question. Our industry loves to talk about how consumer-centric we are, but in fact, it’s just the opposite. A consumer-centric site would only allow the listing agent, the expert on the property to represent it to the buying public. They would be focused on providing an educated resource to help consumers with the purchase of their most expensive and arguably most valuable asset.
No wonder consumers don’t believe all agents are knowledgeable or provide the best counsel. The truth is, we expose them REGULARLY to agents who know nothing about the properties they are trying to sell them.
Next time you’re thinking about adding a feature to your website or technology, ask consumers first. They will steer you to the logical and prudent answer.