Third-Party Real Estate Apps Present Challenges for Agents

With all of the help the iPad and Realtor.com give local brokers (click here for full story), third-party websites and apps like Zillow.com and Trulia.com have the potential to reverse the progression.

Joe Spake of In-City Realty said recently that a hot topic for his business right now is the impact of syndicated sites like Zillow and Trulia on consumer confidence. Pricing on Trulia, for instance, only reflects one tax rather than including both county and city taxes, which can skew out-of-town homebuyers’ perception of pricing.

“The information that the consumer is getting and something that comes out of a computer in Seattle versus something that comes out of an agent in Memphis,” Spake said.

Debbie Sowell, owner/broker of InCity, also isn’t a fan of third-party real estate sites due to the value it gives on homes. Especially in Midtown, which is Sowell’s market, values should be reflected in how the house has been maintained, she said. Zillow doesn’t look at anything specific.

“I’m always trying to combat somebody’s value that they give their own house because they’ve been to Zillow and have something crazy in their head,” Sowell said. “I’ve got a listing right now that it says it’s worth $73,000 when I know that it’s worth $125,000.”

Through the Memphis Area Association of Realtors’ Information Data Exchange, brokers who participate in the Multiple Listing Service can populate their individual websites with MAAR property information. There’s also an option for a broker to send the information out to websites like Zillow and Trulia.

If used correctly, it can be a valuable tool, said Michael Green of John Green & Co. But there’s a downside.

“I get calls from clients asking about property that have been off the market for six months or a year that are still showing active on some of those third-party websites like Zillow and Trulia,” Green said. “It’s kind of a complicated issue, a lot of the data, where it goes and how it gets there. I’d say Realtor.com is probably one of my favorite ones personally that’s not a third-party advertised-type website.”

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