Market Leader Joins Zillow and Trulia in Selling Leads on Agent Listings
Just as brokers are wising up to the alarming tactics of third-party sites like Zillow and Trulia, Market Leader pulls a strategic about-face and joins the ranks of listing aggregators that are bypassing brokerages to extort money directly from their agents.
Now that it owns realestate.com, which it purchased in 2011 for $8.25 million, Market Leader is apparently trying to pay for the acquisition with an aggressive email marketing campaign in which it’s selling leads to agents that pony up ad dollars to become “city experts” on the site.
That’s right. Market Leader is the latest third-party player to take agents’ listings and use them to make money by selling access to competing agents. The company’s breathless marketing emails this week stated that the company “has sold close to 2,000 cities” and it’s planning to rev up the sales campaign “soon” with a mass-media ad buy.
It’s an especially shocking turn of events given the company’s recent PR fluff about its strategic partnerships with brokerages and its commitment to helping brokers grow their businesses. I thought selling zip-codes and leads was the company’s old business model – but apparently they haven’t changed a thing.
What kind of partner gets in between brokers’ relationship with their agents? What’s helpful about making agents pay to get leads on their own listings? What’s fair about charging agents protection money to keep other agents from getting leads on their listings?
Nothing, but that isn’t stopping Market Leader.