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Daily Real Estate News  |  May 18, 2007  |   Debunking Myths of Real Estate Web Sites
WASHINGTON — Two popular real estate listing Web sites, Trulia and Zillow, say they have no intention of stealing business away from real estate professionals by making listings available on their site. Quite the opposite, their aim is to draw more consumer attention to homes that are on the market, including your listings, company leaders said Thursday at the REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

“Zillow is hopefully a place that you look to as a partner and marketing platform,” said Jeff Somers, director of partner relations for Zillow, which provides home valuation “Zestimates” and links to listings all over the country.

By marketing through public real estate Web sites, agents can better promote their listings and services to consumers, said brokers and online real estate companies during a business technology forum.

Somers said he’s working hard to debunk the myth that Zillow is trying to change the real estate industry in the same manner that its co-founder Rich Barton, who also created, changed the travel industry. “The travel industry and real estate are incredibly different,” Somers said. “We believe consumers will want a professional guiding them through the real estate process.”

Trulia Chief Operating Officer Sami Inkinen said his site is an online marketing venue for agents that has no intention of replacing the MLS. “We want to help promote agents and brokerages online,” Inkinen said. Listings on Trulia are linked directly to practitioners' individual Web sites.

Public Web Sites Generate Business

Bob Hale, CEO of the Houston Association of REALTORS® touched on another common myth that public MLS Web sites are bad for business.

In 2006, Houston’s public MLS,, generated 555,000 leads for agents, Hale said. The Web site includes pictures, maps, virtual tours, and a home-value finder with price ranges for 2 million properties in the area. The site is available in multiple languages.

As more real estate information heads to the Web, there’s a great need for agents to become fluent in the latest online search trends and technology skills, said Michael Koval, who’s in charge of technology for Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.

Consumers will increasingly come to expect real estate information delivered in real-time and via blogs, instant messaging, videos, and podcasts, he and other panelists said.

“We need to tackle this technology gap or it will only continue to grow and grow,” Koval said. “And if we do not satisfy expectations that customers have, then they’ll go elsewhere.”

— By Melissa Dittmann Tracey for REALTOR® Magazine Online

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