It’s time for a Real Estate Revolution – Own your Own Leads!!!

I want to start by commending Edina Realty for pulling their listings from Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com.  It is a smart and brave move for companies like them who want to control their brand and own their own leads, without having to pay a 3rd party for the privilege.  I think every real estate agent, broker and brand should also walk away.

Having been in travel, I know firsthand how aggregators can take suppliers content (airlines, hotels and car companies in travel) and in this case real estate listings, and amass large numbers of eyeballs and then charge the suppliers back for access to their own content or eyeballs.  What they rely on is the brand’s inability or maybe unwillingness to own their own fate.  At first it can be great but the addiction will not work long term. 

What it does is devalue a real estate company’s brand and ‘genericizes’ them ultimately further empowering the aggregators and commoditizing your product.   

From my perspective it’s ok for brands in real estate, large or small, to own and control their own brands, leads and clients. As such, I would go cold turkey and simply stop feeding the aggregators.  People won’t stop looking for houses online or on their mobile phones.  All it means is they will now come to you directly.  You just have to learn how to brand yourself and get in front of your client.  Real estate professionals are not lazy.  Far from it. There aren’t too many conferences and expos I go to where shoe company’s show up to sell comfy shoes as I saw at NAR.  This is a business with people always on the go and hustling.  I know it might seem like a relief to have some help with leads, but trust me its fool’s gold.  Nothing will replace what you can do to own your own name and brand.

That is why companies like ours at Smarter Agent are important to empowering the industry. Since I have been there a few months, as head of marketing, that has been my mission.  Yes we are a business but we want to grow with you not despite our brand partners. Ultimately, it’s about providing real estate tools and platforms for brands to own and manage for themselves their clients without having to pay for that pleasure.  One of the arguments is that these third parties also spend millions on user experience which most brands can’t do.  While that is true they do so to build their own brand and therefore drive more eyeballs to charge back to real estate brands.  Simple business model yes, but don’t be totally fooled.  There are providers out there who spend millions developing the best product but extend that knowledge to partners and don’t charge them for accessing their own leads and customers.  That is the model we built at Smarter Agent.  Not only have we spent millions developing the best real estate tool for the industry to own their own destiny but we also do it all with MLS data so we are accurate, clean and have the most real estate listings. 

From my perspective it was a brave move by Edina Realty, but the smart and right one long term move.  Keep your walking shoes on. 

~ Philip Charles-Pierre, SVP of Marketing & Distribution

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