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My Zillow Addiction

I’m happy to share that my husband and I had our offer on a house accepted just last night. I think now I’ll finally be able to start the long road of recovery from my Zillow addiction.

In the old days of real estate, you chose a realtor, went to their office, and they let you look through photos of listings that were currently available. Or, you knew a house was for sale because you drove by and saw the sign stuck in the front yard. You were dependent on realtors for letting you know what was going on, and they could control the flow of information. You also depended on them to tell you what nearby houses sold for, and what the house you’re interested in sold for last, and when.

These days, anyone with an internet connection can find out this information. My site of choice is Zillow, but there are multiple MLS-aggregator sites, including Redfin, Trulia, and Realtor.com. I found my realtor on Zillow after reading reviews on the site. I’ve never even been to my realtor’s office. In fact, the first time I met him was at the first house he showed us.

I was able to start my research on homes over a year before we were ready to buy. I was able to very easily get an idea of how expensive homes were in certain areas, and what kinds of homes were available without even stepping foot in one. By the time we actually were ready to look at homes, I was a very educated and savvy buyer. This helped me immensely, and it’s probably why we didn’t feel overwhelmed by the whole process, and why we were certain this was the home for us after just 3 days of looking at homes.

What does this mean for the future of realtors? You’re always going to have consumers who are not going to do this sort of extensive research. They’ll want to have the realtor do that for them. Will realtors become a sort of concierge service that consumers will pay for by the hour, rather than as a percentage of the home cost? I could certainly see the increased access to information creating more opportunities for sellers to choose the For Sale By Owner route. (Note: Sellers pay realtors as a percentage of the sale price, usually 2.5-3% to each the selling and buying agent.) In the past, it was extremely necessary to have a realtor, but now, while helpful, it’s not a necessity.

Our realtor was a gem, and I don’t know if anything would have gone as smoothly as it did without him. But then again, if we were the ones paying him 2.5% of the purchase price, maybe we’d feel differently. Who knows — by the time we’re selling this house (you know, when we’re 95, and only then because the yard work is too much) realtors could be obsolete, all because of Zillow.


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