What happens when you hit the “Send me more info” button on a Zillow home listing? Anyone who’s ever entered their info and hit send only to have their phone explode knows! It’s important for consumers to be informed about what’s known as a 3rd Party Aggregator website featuring homes for sale, and what happens to your information when you hit that “send” button.
To put it bluntly, your information gets fed into the lead-generation meat grinder, as I call it! Most people are probably familiar with 3rd Party Aggregator websites. They include big names like Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, and even Realtor.com. These sites take listing information from local MLS’s and/or from brokerages and display them online. While these websites have become indispensable tools for both home buyers and sellers in recent years, there’s a trick to how they work that many consumers don’t know.
To make money, these sites generate leads from buyers and sellers and feed them to agents who “pay to play” to receive those leads and follow up with that potential home buyer or seller. When you enter your info, to whom do you think it’s going? The listing agent? Sometimes, yes. Most of the time, no. And in many cases (or most cases) your info goes to 3 or more different real estate agents. Those agents are then in a race to call you and “get you on the hook” as I tend to phrase it. Sometimes even, the person who calls isn’t a local Realtor at all. Sometimes it’s a calling service that collects the lead and then sells it to another set of agents. Quite frankly, the whole thing can be an absolute mess!
Are you the kind of person that loves high-pressure sales situations? When you’re in the market for a new car, wouldn’t you love for a whole bunch of car salespersons to compete for your attention by bombarding your phone with pleas to purchase a shiny new car from them? Are you the kind of person that just goes with the first person to call you even if you’ve never met and don’t know if you’re a good fit to work together? I can tell you, with 100% certainty, that I’m not the person in any of these scenarios! And I’m willing to bet that most people are with me on this!
So, what to do (or what not to do)? Finding a real estate agent to work with, whether you’re buying, selling, or both, should be a serious process and should involve careful consideration. In my opinion, hitting the “send” button on a 3rd Party Aggregator website should not factor into the equation. A better approach would be to research the Realtor you want to work with BEFORE finding a house you want to buy. There are a number of good ways to identify your agent. Personal referrals from trusted family members and friends is a great idea. An internet search of agents in your area is another. There you can find client reviews and information on services and prices that they offer. Our recommendation is to interview any and all agents that might be a potential fit, and then choose the best one for you!
I hope you don’t end up getting caught in the lead-generation meat-grinder! At R+K Real Estate, part of our mission is to inform the home buying and selling public about practices in the industry, and how to best navigate them in order to realize their goals. It’s hard to imagine a situation in which a home buyer’s goals stand the best chance of being realized by merely going with the person who calls first. I don’t think you’d buy a car that way, and so I hope you wouldn’t trust something as complex as a home purchase this way either! Now that you know what happens when you hit that “send me more info” button, I don’t think you’ll ever click it again!