Is there a real estate revolution available, beyond just a fancy new MLS website?

Zip Realty has blazed the trail.  They offer:

  1. Their own search website
  2. Rebates
  3. Phone Apps
  4. Salaries to agents
  5. Catchy name, and national exposure

Their website is of particular interest.  They mention:

Our ZAP technology also includes a customer relationship management system that identifies and analyzes user behavior on our website allowing us to provide more relevant information and service to clients and a business management system that allows our managers to monitor the activities of our ZipAgents to verify a high level of client service.

They monitor your usage of their website.  They track the houses you’ve viewed on-line, and how long you spend looking at each house – figuring the longer you look, the more you like it.  Then they send a report to your designated Zip agent.

It sounds a little creepy, but from the agent/broker perspective, it is a very effective way to identify the clients who are motivated, and keep the agents focused on productivity.

If you were thinking about how you might create more than just a fancy website, and wanted to change the business, you’d admire Zip’s model. Redfin is another company that publicly set out to revolutionize the business with a very popular website and rebates. How is it working in San Diego?

Agency # of SD agents 2010 Sales YTD

Zip Realty started in 1999, so you’d think by now they would be gaining traction, but in 1Q10 they lost $6.2 million. Redfin is privately-held, but according to wiki they’ve poured $20 million of venture capital into their company.

Yet based on the number of sales, neither has been able to revolutionize the real estate world as we know it, at least not in San Diego. There have been 12,320 detached, attached and 2-4 unit sales in 2010, year-to-date.

Why? Because the more-experienced agents are able to beat the others to the punch – they recognize the best buys faster, their clients tend to be better qualified, and the respect/camaraderie between the veteran agents will trump the less-experienced agents in a close race.

Any revolution would have to embrace the more-experienced agents, or over-run them. A company like Google would have to set up an auction house with full transparency to topple the old guard.

P.S. I have never had a bad experience with any Zip or Redfin agents, and I mention my stats as a middle-of-the-road example – there are agents who sell a lot more houses than I do. Because it’s been mentioned here several times that the sales history of each agent should be out in the open to assist consumers with evaluating realtors, let it start with me.

author avatar
Jim the Realtor
Jim is a long-time local realtor who comments daily here on his blog, which began in September, 2005. Stick around!

Pin It on Pinterest