How Trulia and Zillow are Stealing Your Leads

How do Trulia and Zillow Get Your Listings and Generate Leads?

If you’re reading this, you’re likely a real estate agent or looking to become one, so you probably know the basics of what I’m about to tell you.

 

When a seller chooses you to represent their property, you have two main choices on how you want to handle it. First, and most popular, you can go through a brokerage(?) who will then proceed to sign the property up for every listing syndication service known to man. Second, you can keep the listing as a pocket listing.

 

As I said, this probably isn’t new information for you.

 

But do you know why most agents choose to go through a listing syndication service rather than do a pocket listing agreement? It should be rather obvious: exposure. When your property is listed on websites like Zillow and Trulia, you’re going to get more views. Simple as that.

 

If you do a pocket listing, you have a lot of work ahead of you. You want to sell the property fast, not just for yourself, but to keep the property owner happy. If you’re not getting hundreds or thousands of hits per day, you have to redirect all of your energies into marketing to make sure you can get the property in front of the public eye. And because your exclusivity agreement is usually only 90 days long, you basically have thirty months before they get frustrated and choose another agent.

 

So why would anyone ever choose to do a pocket listing?

Websites like Trulia and Zillow have tons of errors.

 

1. Listing syndication websites like Trulia and Zillow are riddled with errors. Studies have shown that almost 40% of homes listed on Trulia and Zillow aren’t actually for sale.

 

Far too many of the homes available on Trulia and Zillow aren't actually available.

Far too many of the homes available on Trulia and Zillow aren’t actually available.

 

2. If you put your property on listing syndication site, you have to agree to give up your informational rights. What does that mean? It means that you’re allowing whatever site you’ve posted on to take liberties with the posting. They can change the information, remove good photos, add photos that may or may not actually be of your property, add photos that may make your property look rather tragic, sell adspace next to it that promotes other agents (more on that later), and so on.

 

3. Once your property hits a listing syndication site, you no longer have control of the information. Not just in the ways listed above, but also in an even more detrimental way: you can no longer make changes. Let’s say you listed your house at $525,000 and, a month in, the housing market skyrockets and you can raise the price to $750,000. Wonderful! Except Zillow and Trulia won’t update your price. And this works in reverse. If you’ve been trying to sell your property for the last three months without success and you decide to lower the price? No one is going to know, because you’re stuck at $525,000 in the eyes of the internet. Remodel the kitchen? Install a pool? Build a deck? Good luck getting that information out there.

 

There are other reasons that make using listing syndication services not always the best route, but those are our top three. What good is a listing website if nearly 40% of their listings aren’t active? Why would you ever put a listing up in a place where your marketing tactics could be ruined and create unhappy sellers and aggravated buyers? Why lock yourself into a price no matter what happens?

 

And, as we mentioned, Zillow and Trulia sell adspace. Look at the image below very carefully and prepare yourself for a pop quiz.

 

Which one is the right one?

 

Ready?

 

Which of the agents listed above is the actual agent for the property? You know, the one that the current owners are working with? Do you know?

 

We don’t either.

 

What we do know, however, is that all of those agents paid Zillow to have their images shown next to various properties in the Ann Arbor area, and for Zillow to funnel leads to them.

 

And we also can guess that none of those agents are the official representative of that property.

 

If you’re the agent representing that property, prepare to halve your commission.

How to Beat Trulia and Zillow at Their Own Game

 

It shouldn’t be any surprise to you that I’m once more going to bring up inbound marketing. No, not this site, but the actual activity of doing inbound marketing. If you’re new to the site and not sure what I’m talking about, go here for a great crash course in inbound marketing.

 

If you remember, inbound marketing isn’t a quick fix-all. No, it takes a lot of work and time to not only set up, but maintain. However, once you’re securely in the top Google search results, you’ll find that the rewards were well worth it.

 

I’ve written many articles on the topic, so I’m going to summarize here. You can click any of the sentences below to read something more in depth on the topic.

 

Specialize, specialize, specialize! You’ll probably never pop up on Google’s top fifty search results if you’re competing with the big boys. Niche markets are the way to go.
Don’t neglect your social media! Websites like Pintrest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else surfaces in the future are crucial to keeping your web presence out there and thriving.
Blog! It’s not a thing of the past—blogging keeps your website relevant in Google search results and brings back visitors time and time again if you continue to provide useful content.

 

If you use the three tactics above to become a known specialist in your niche, people will turn to you for information on your particular market. You’ll become an authority and buyers will trust you to show them what’s what and present the best properties for sale in your area, while sellers will trust that your services will get their house moving for their hoped-for price on their desired timeline.

 

All of this, without ever having to split your commission, tell potential buyer after buyer that the price on Zillow is no longer correct, or that the photos attached to your Trulia property listing aren’t even of the property you’re representing.

Steal Your Leads Back!

 

Just because you aren’t using Trulia or Zillow to get eyes on your property does not mean that you can’t take some tips from them to get your leads back. This is a fairly easy step-by-step guide that the people over at LeadPages can help you out with.

 

1. Make a winning landing page with LeadPages. What’s a landing page? Here’s Trulia’s:

 

trulia landing page

 

2. Click on “Send People to Your Website.” That will pop up a box where you can put your Leadpages.net url for the landing page you just created.

 

3. Choose some of the images from the photos that Facebook has provided for you, then write your own version of Trulia’s Facebook ad copy (below).

 

ads-leads-from-trulia image 4

4. Set your demographic information. You know the audience that you want your ads to reach, don’t you? If not, you need to think about that. Are most of your buyers male or female? What age range? Income range? Plug that all in.

 

5. Finally, pick the month budget you’re willing to spend on this ad campaign and manually place your bid per click (how many times someone clicks on the ad to see your site) just a bit higher (15 to 20 cents) above the Facebook recommended maximum.

 

And now you’re good to go! You’ve started your inbound marketing campaign and now your Facebook ads are being seen by potential buyers and sellers. If you keep following our instructions, you’ll begin to see an uptick as your hard work starts to pay off.

6 thoughts on “How Trulia and Zillow are Stealing Your Leads

  1. i ESPECIALLY AGREE WITH SPECIALIZATION- IT SEPARATES AGENTS FROM THE PACK AND ADDS VALUE TO THEIR SERVICES- oUR COMPANY USES sEC8RENT.COM SO WE CAN BRAND OURSELVES AS SPECIALISTS IN sEC 8 HOUSING AND BUY AND SELL GOVERNMENT BACKED RENTALS WITH LITTLE OR NO COMPETITION- mARKETING YOURSELF AS A SPECIALIST BE IT SECTION 8, LUXURY HOMES, cOMMERCIAL, sHORT SALES, mOBILE HOMES, ETC.. ALLOWS YOU TO FOCUS ALL YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS IN ONE DIRECTION AND BECOME THE VERITABLE SOURCE OF INFORMATION IN YOUR SPECIALITY AREA

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