Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Is Homes.com hijacking traffic from broker and agent websites?


“Is Homes.com selling your own leads back to you?

Kristina Smallhorn, eXp agent and real estate YouTube extraordinaire, searched her own name on YouTube and was shocked at what she found. 

The ad read, “Kristina Smallhorn, Real Estate Agent in Baton Rouge, LA” and looked like a large text post on Facebook. The call to action was a simple “Visit site,” and just below that was a one-line title for the ad: “Find Beautiful Real Estate for Sale with Homes.com”

Interesting story. CoStar has recently touted that they have increased traffic to Homes.com website by 84%, we may be finding out how they are doing it.

It appears that in this case Homes.com is buying ads on YouTube and YouTube is inserting Homes.com ads in YouTube search results related to high performing real estate YouTube channels. These ads will use the agent’s name and then link back to their Homes.com agent profile.

What’s the rub? Well what the article gets wrong is that with Homes.com’s “your listing, your lead” any lead on Kristina’s listings should go right back to her. But Kristina and other agents are concerned about traffic.

“It’s harmful because they are tracking your leads that you’ve cultivated with your content to drive traffic to their website. They are using your name to collect data and send advertising to those people who wanted to speak to you and now are being pushed to use their site,”

Another concern is that a lot of the information on the agent profile is incorrect. Christa Nielsen writes…

“As (with) all ads, when the user clicks to the Homes.com ad that is using my name without permission, they are now going to be “followed” and retargeted from them.  They are using agents to generate traffic to their website.  This, plus the false information shown, can be detrimental to any business.”

Christa goes on to say that a lot of data on her profile was compltely wrong, including sales history and experience.

“If someone is clicking this profile, they are being shown that I, for example, sold one house in the last 5 years. This also can be detrimental.”

There are a few concerns here. I’m not sure if this would be too much of a story but CoStar’s CEO Andy Florance’s statements about other portal’s “hijacking” leads seems to invite criticism when something like this is exposed.

On the other hand, Kristina and Christa are using Google’s platform(s) (most likley for free) and as the saying goes, “if the service is free, you’re the product.”

  1. Hypocrisy, aside, homes.com has a lot of work to do just in terms of listing accuracy. Just for the hell of it I did a search for residential listings in Irvine this morning on the MLS, there are 165 active listings in Irvine. For the city of irvine, homes.com is showing 359 homes for sale. At least in part this in accuracy is because they are also pulling listings from just outside the Irvine city perimeter on the map. If I am a consumer, I would find this rather frustrating. Just give me what I ask for.

    I’m finding a somewhat similar issue of data and accuracy on Nestfully as well. On Nestfully if I search for active listings in Irvine, it’s pulling contingent listings in to the active category. At least, in the case of Nestfully , I know the issue is being addressed because I submitted the air to CRMLS and they responded back to me.

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