The Internet has transformed how consumers shop for a wide variety of goods and services, but many issues remain unresolved when it comes to marketing homes online.
About half of real-estate agents appreciate that they can get their listings out to thousands of potential buyers via national websites, said Steve Murray, CEO of Castle Rock-based REAL Trends, during a Denver Metro Association of Realtors panel discussion Thursday.
"An equal number consider you the devil incarnate," Murray told representatives of the four websites that generate the most online real-estate traffic in Colorado — Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Realtor.com and REcolorado.com.
How big is that disconnect? About 98 percent of consumers go online when searching for a home, but only 7 percent of Realtors said the Internet was a major source of business.
"There is something wrong with that," Murray said.
Murray questioned the panelists on some on the top fears that real-estate professionals have about the Internet.
The biggest is that the day is coming when the most popular sites will connect buyers and sellers directly, pushing agents out of the picture. Sara Bonert with Zillow and Alon Chaver with Trulia offered reassurances that there were no plans to do that.
Agents also rue the day when they will be star-rated like household goods on Amazon, although there is a growing realization that people will increasingly find agents online as they do homes.
Stale listings online, like space debris that refuses to go away, are a more pressing problem.
Kirby Slunaker — CEO of REcolorado.com, the public portal of Metrolist, the clearinghouse for listings in metro Denver — asked how many audience members had to tell a client that a listing he or she found online was expired. Almost everyone responded by raising a hand.
But the big players such as Trulia and Zillow counter that they aren't granted direct access to the multiple-listing service, leaving them dependent on what brokers and agents permit them to post.
"We would like to have an equal interface with the multiple-listing-service sites," said Bonert.
Curt Beardsley, vice president of industry services with Realtor.com, said agents need to do a better job of connecting with people who send queries online. They expect a response and too often are disappointed.
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