Rome is On Fire, Have You Seen My Fiddle?

There are moments when I truly wonder what I’m doing in a profession filled with the short-sighted, the kind of people who by and large are content to grab some graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows as they watch the world burn.

From a Facebook conversation …

“Do you work at Zillow?”

“Why yes, yes I do. I’ve been there for three whole days.”

“I *LOVE* that web site! My husband and I use it all the time. We’re looking for a home in Wilmington, Delaware.”

“Awesome, thanks for visiting! What do you like about the site?”

“We think we’ve found a terrific real estate agent on Zillow. They have great reviews. What exactly is a ‘Premium Agent’ and how do we know if we’ve found a good one?”

Because the person writing the post was well liked before taking a position at Zillow, and presumably still is, back-slapping ensued about whether the subsequent bar bill was a business expense. And as the conversation went on, the flames grew higher and higher around us all.

It’s always great to see someone love Zillow, especially if they’re not particularly concerned about accuracy in their data. But why quibble about tens of thousands of dollars when there’s advertising to sell.

Which leads nicely to … What’s a Premium Agent? Someone who pays for advertising on Zillow. End of story.

Just like a “Showcase” listing on Realtor.Com is listed as such because some stooge paid Move.Com through the nose to get a fancy border around their home for sale and appease sellers rather than explain what really causes homes to sell.

How do you know if you got a good one? Hell of a question. And there’s really not much of an answer. Online reviews are available in a variety of places and all represent only the smallest possible sample of what any particular agent has done. Very happy or very unhappy clients respond, the rest couldn’t care less. (And, remembering my Customer Service Survey days at Charles Schwab, hell will freeze over before I start begging for high marks on a survey. I found dignity the past eight years.)

They may be good. They may be terrible. They certainly lack the long-term judgment to see they’re throwing money at a company that adds zero value to the real estate space. All you see is regurgitated and the unique – the Zestimates – are right slightly more often than a Magic 8 ball.

But that didn’t come up in the elevator … it might have once upon a time, but that’s another story for another time.

Somewhere, somehow there needs to be some resistance on the real estate front. It’s galling, if not DeGaulle-ing to watch real estate agents roll over to Zillow, Trulia and their ilk as Vichy did once upon a time when a Panzer showed up on the border.

I’d ask who was with me but, like John Belushi, I have a hunch I’d be running out of the room, beginning the charge, all by my lonesome.

Photo credit: Jo Naylor via Flickr Creative Commons

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


Comments are closed.