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Fear and why iBuyers Offers and Zestimates belong in your CMAs

by Greg Robertson on August 5th, 2020

Jay Thompson, writing on Inman News, Why iBuyers and Zestimates belong in your CMAs 

“Greg Robertson, W+R Studios co-founder, was attacked, called clueless, and challenged as to whether he had any industry experience (yes, almost three decades worth.) IBuyers, also highlighted in the headline, got one mention. Nothing else in the survey report was discussed. A few commenters waded into the fray showing understanding of why they at least look at Zestimates and sometimes mention them in listing presentations. The vast majority of commenters sounded off on the evils of Zillow and the Zestimate.”

I will say I am “clueless” about many, many things. My wife will tell you as much.

Sorry this post is a little long, but I think it touches on a lot of issues (not to mention a shameless plug for my company 😛).

Jay, as you may know, is a former broker (The Phoenix Real Estate Guy) and worked at Zillow in Industry Relations for some time. His article is in response to an article published on Inman News about W+R Studios’ announcement of the results of their inaugural survey, 2020 Best Practices of CMAs and Listing Presentations.

Here’s more from Jay…

“No one, including Zillow, W+R Studios or me, is saying the Zestimate should be used as a comparable in your CMA. Of course it shouldn’t be, that’s not its intent or purpose. But to ignore it is to ignore something your clients are looking at and wondering about. Address it upfront, leave out your personal feelings about Zillow, and put any objections to rest early in the process. The listing presentation is the ideal time to address it with sellers, and the CMA is the perfect place to have it on record. “

Emphasis mine

Cloud CMA pioneered ways of including Zestimates to compare against actual sold prices from the MLS data as part of a Cloud CMA report. This has since been copied by other vendors. I was surprised by the amount of push-back we got when we introduced it. Many MLS organizations (after pushback from their members) made us turn the report page off by default, or in some cases, turned off altogether. But every time I sat down, one on one, with a broker or MLS executive and showed them how the report page worked, they understood, “wow this is great, agents are going to love it.”

This happens all the time. Many agents and brokers just hear/read “Zestimate” or “iBuyer” and begin to see red.

As we can see in the survey results and the comments on the article there is still a lot of fear out there. And as Mr. Hurbert once wrote, “fear, is the mind-killer”.

Flash forward to a little less than a year ago when W+R Studios introduced a way of including iBuyer Offers (with Opendoor) in Cloud CMA. We were met with the same type of fear and got a lot of push back and false claims.

“You’re going to put agents out of business!”
“Shame on you Cloud CMA!”

And those were the polite ones. I took these comments hard. We put many of our partner MLS organizations in a tough spot. They began to get calls from their members that “Cloud CMA was sending our CMAs to Opendoor!” (not true). The misinformation got so bad we had to create a document refuting some of the most outrages claims.

But we held firm because we knew, to paraphrase Jay, the listing presentation is an ideal time to address iBuyer Offers, and the CMA is a perfect place to have it on record.

Dan and I are always looking for new ways to innovate, and we are willing to take risks and keep our customers ahead of the curve. Even if these ideas seem crazy or counter-intuitive at the time.

The main thing that got us through the periods I wrote about above was, in the end, our customers (MLS organizations, brokers, and agents) trusted us.

In a recent “Friday Flash” blog post, titled “What are you saying” Brian Boero, CEO of 100watt wrote:

“Honestly, I am glad we have arrived at a point where there are no more red lines to transgress. I used to get revved up about this stuff too. Now, Zillow buys, owns and sells homes, Realtor.com charges referral fees, and yet good agents, teams and brokers continue to do their thing. “

Unlike Brian, I don’t think we are there yet. We still need to get over our fear of these new (old?) models, which as Rob Hahn and I discuss in recent Industry Relations podcast point out, keep turning more and more towards agent inclusion. We need to focus our energy on more positive things. We have a lot more to worry about than Zestimates and iBuyers.

I just hope the industry can take the advice of what a wise old hippie once said…

“You gotta let that shit go, man. Let it go.”

2 Comments
  1. Miguel Berger permalink

    In my previous company we used Cloud CMA for all our listing presentations and one thing my agents love to point out was the “Zestimate” vs reality, I felt that was an amazing tool to help with pricing, now including Ibuyers will make it even better.
    Pricing is more than a computer generated report, there are so many intangibles, the agent understands the nuances of the sale and more importantly the motivation. At the end of the day value is determined by 2 things: What the seller is willing to sell for and what the buyer is willing to pay.
    But as I always said our industry is a dinosaur and change is something most people don’t embrace. Lets bring the books back….

  2. Russ bergeron permalink

    This reminds me of the early nineties when we first put listings on the internet. “You’re going to put us out of business” or “If you do this then what are we here for?” were the anti internet rallying cries.

    I belive NAR just announced that their membership was at its highest level ever. Inman recently posted about how new licensees were at record levels.

    Real estate people do tend to like their conspiracy theories, don’t they?

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