Zillow/StreetEasy's Unfair Business Practices
New York Listing Agents + their Clients are just now experiencing the pain of Zillow owned StreetEasy’s Premier Agent Feature. This is a similar feature we as agents have been dealing with for years with Zillow's similar “Premier Agent” ‘feature’.
For those who aren’t in the Real Estate business or have searched for a home to purchase before, Zillow & StreetEasy (NYC) is undoubtedly the #1 Consumer used home search platform in the country. It has single handedly changed the industry for both better or worse over the years depending on the specific topic.
The biggest issue I personally take as a Real Estate Professional (and I’m surely not alone) with Zillow/StreetEasy Premier Agent Feature is that ANY agent can pay for a certain zip code to be the ‘featured agent’ that is displayed prominently on another listing agents listing. There is no vetting process or experience necessary. The listing agent is still shown on the listing however when a buyer/consumer fills out the contact form to inquire about a specific property, that inquiry, will NOT go to the listing agent directly. Now this on it’s face wouldn’t seem like an issue and there will be those that say that listing agents are just upset that they’re not given the sole opportunity to represent both sides of the deal, however it is the Seller that ultimately is potentially negatively affected by this ‘feature’.
When a prospective buyer calls on a house he/she is interested in and is not calling the listing agent directly, they are potentially speaking to a novice agent who knows absolutely nothing about that specific property, doesn’t know the area well, the building amenities and rules, or has the immediate ability to arrange proper showings and qualify that buyer. If the paying “Premier Agent” doesn’t have a solid wealth of knowledge about that property or isn’t able to properly articulate facts on the home in a reasonable manner, that buyer could be lost to move onto another home leaving the Seller with a missed opportunity.
Zillow/StreetEasy depend on individual agents/brokerages to supply them with their data and now it seems as if they’re abusing their privileges solely to appease shareholders. 70% of Zillow’s revenue in 2016 came from their Premier Agent Feature.
Zillow/StreetEasy can be a huge help to Buyers, Sellers and Agents however I wish they would have properly consulted with the agents directly to determine a better method of connecting buyers and sellers without potentially negatively affecting both sides of the transaction in this manner.