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Last month, Zillow made an announcement that was not much of a surprise to many across the industry: The portal-turned-iBuyer officially formed its own real estate brokerage, Zillow Homes. But what does that mean for real estate practitioners?

In order to gauge the industry’s reaction to the news, RISMedia launched a survey, gathering the insights of over 2,000 real estate professionals. Here are some key findings:

– Eighty-seven percent said Zillow’s foray into the brokerage space is a “negative” for the real estate industry at large, while only 3 percent said it was “positive” and 10 percent had “no opinion” on the matter.

– Sixty-four percent said Zillow’s announcement should be viewed as a “negative” for consumers in the market, while 9 percent believe this is “positive” news and 27 percent said they had “no opinion” on the matter.

– Seventy-five percent of those surveyed are not currently Zillow advertisers, while 25 percent are.

– Sixty-eight percent are not currently Premier Agents, while 32 percent are.

– Of those not currently using Zillow’s advertising platform, 95 percent said they would not consider advertising with the company in the future following their brokerage announcement.

– Of those who do currently use Zillow’s advertising platform, 62 percent said they would be pulling their advertisements due to Zillow’s brokerage announcement.

With this in mind, how will brokerages respond to the news? Some may ask their agents to pull out of Zillow’s advertising and lead generation programs, or disconnect their MLS-to-Zillow listing feeds altogether, while others may double down on their own competitive advantage while continuing to use Zillow’s services. Here’s how practitioners across the U.S. are responding;

“The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) cannot sponsor or encourage a boycott of Zillow. It would be unlawful for NAR to discourage members from using any product or service provider. Those decisions are made independently by MLSs, brokers and agents. Likewise, it would be unlawful for local or state REALTOR® associations to encourage members to withhold listings or business from any third party, such as Zillow, or adopt policies that would preclude members from doing so. What NAR can do is the same thing we’ve always done, and will continue to do in the face of a long line of business models offered to consumers to sell their homes without the use of a REALTOR®: Undertake renewed efforts to remind the public—and to encourage and help members inform their clients and customers—of the value they bring to the real estate marketing and sales transaction, and the problems and risks sellers may encounter in marketing and selling their home without using a REALTOR®.”   Christina Asbury, Broker, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage; NAR Professional Standards Committee

“I saw this coming five years ago. I even asked a Zillow representative at the convention in D.C. at a sponsorship get-together if they were interested or thinking about getting into real estate. Their answer was ‘no.’ I did not believe it. To counteract, I am implemented old-school real estate tactics—building on relationships and keeping in touch with past clients. So many real estate closings are held together by experience and communication—that has been lost with a lot of technology. Zillow is here to stay and now is a normal real estate company like any other. We all need to work together toward one common goal: provide a great, smooth closing for all parties. Life goes on.” — Jay Dowdy, Broker/Owner, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices All American Homes

“The Zillow announcement is predictable, even though they have been saying for years that they wouldn’t become a brokerage. What it reveals to me is how, nationwide, our MLSs have put handcuffs on agents, not allowing them to put their contact information or branded virtual tours out to the public, and leaving room for companies like Zillow to build their empire on the backs of our listings. Zillow is no more a threat than our inflexible institutions allow it to be. The National Association of REALTORS® and our MLSs need to put the power back in the hands of the agents to compete effectively in a tech and data-driven reality. For sure we will be pulling our new construction advertising [from Zillow]. Agents will have to make their own assessments as to the quality of leads they are still receiving and paying Zillow for, of course. I support the freedom of the agent to find multiple streams of businesses.” — Courtney Poulos, Broker/Owner, ACME real Estate

“Good agents and companies focus on their own business. Professional, outstanding service is the separator in real estate, and always has been. Zillow’s announcement doesn’t make us take our eye off the ball. With that being said, our agents will be turning to other lead sources to spend their marketing and lead generation dollars on (i.e., realtor.com®).” — Steven Wilke, Broker, Weichert, Realtors®.

“I believe that there will always be a new type of brokerage that will challenge the real estate industry with innovative ways to service buyers and sellers. Consumers will determine if this type of brokerage will succeed. As a REALTOR®, I will support the organization’s decisions in regard to this situation.” — Patricia McLaughlin, Broker, PJM Real Estate

“Our agents have been distancing themselves for years in anticipation that Zillow was exploiting our data and information. I am not decided yet as to how this will affect our industry. The highest and most productive agents will continue to grow and flourish and enjoy the independence of the business. I do feel that our training and education has set us apart, and we are in a good position to overcome any Zillow objections. We have faced many threats in our industry, and I imagine many more will come. As long as we stay focused on the consumer and the relational experiences, we will stay relevant and needed. There is plenty of business to be had by all. Focus on education yourself, master all the necessary skills sets and provide value—you will be fine. — Terese Brittingham, Broker/Owner, Terese Brittingham & Thomas McCouch Sales Team, Keller Williams Realty Group

“We knew Zillow was a disruptor from the beginning. My brokerage focuses on relationships and will continue to provide the customized, relational service we have done in the past. Disruptors come and go, exceptional service from top-notch professionals remains.” — Liz Tardo, Broker/Owner, NOLA Home Realty Group

View our entire survey findings below:

Brokers, how will you be responding to Zillow’s news? Let us know in the comments.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to ldominguez@rismedia.com.

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