The world’s most visited property portal, Seattle-based Zillow, has revealed it will now be hiring its own fully employed agents from January, a revelation which has sent shockwaves through the very agencies it purports to serve.
Despite repeatedly saying over the last five years that it did not intend to go into the agency market, and into conflict with the majority of its clients, it’s now happened and agents are rightly fuming at this land grab into their businesses.
How long will it be before they take over the role of estate agents fully – and how long will it be before Rightmove and Zoopla follow suit?
Valued at $22bn (£16.6bn) and with 36 million unique monthly visits, Zillow is a phenomenon in the way it does business. It has a database of over 110 million U.S homes for rent, sale and not currently on the market.
Predictions they were going to buy EXP or Keller Williams or RE/MAX have been unfounded. Instead, they will be firmly rowing their own boat. With all those leads, they simply cannot fail and I can see them becoming the largest agent in America within 18 months if their recruitment policy is well run and they train and coach people to be the best in their markets.
I’ve heard there will be a multi-million-dollar push into every state in the USA. With basic salary estimated at $60,000 (£45.900), reports tell me that their full-time agents will be earning a six-figure sum – and in the hot cities like New York they’re expecting to be paying seven figures – a very appealing prospect for the self-employed franchisees to jump ship into the employed model.
How devastating would it be if Rightmove and Zoopla started to do the same thing, using all our stock to help them become our biggest competitor in the market overnight, as they could have the pick of the valuation leads? Is there a hidden agenda for the new kids on the block, Boomin’?
Trust is already broken between agents and Rightmove following their PR disaster going into lockdown and their failure to understand agents’ needs and requirements as we went through one of the toughest periods in living memory in estate agency. So why would we trust them now?
Will we see Zoopla and Rightmove For Sale boards throughout the UK? Zoopla might be the biggest threat to some agents as their operating systems are Zoopla-owned which means it could be a difficult decision to move away from them if they’ve moved into our space.
My suggestion is to ask your portal reps if they have any plans to go into agency? See what they say and please feel free to share.
Why would you trust the portals now and the big question I’ve got is what are they doing right now to help agents in Wales and those in Tier 3?
If ever there was a time to get behind OnTheMarket, it is now. My advice is don’t put all your eggs in one basket – or they might just crack.
Paul Smith is chief executive officer of Spicerhaart.