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Uproar as giant US property portal launches direct ‘instant offer’ service that displaces agents

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Giant US property portal Zillow has launched an ‘instant offer’ service, by which home sellers can receive instant offers on their homes – cutting out estate agents.

Is the reward worth the risk?

Global proptech guru Mike Delprete makes no bones about it being the wrong move: Zillow may be killing the golden goose, but he thinks he knows why it’s done it.

“It wants to capitalise on the growing consumer demand for instant home offers, and sees it as a potential new revenue stream, whereby it can collect and monetise seller leads.”

He goes on: “Real estate websites around the globe have the same problem: a love-hate relationship with their biggest customers – real estate agents.

“The top sites are fighting a constant battle to extract more money from their customers through regular price rises and value-added services.

“On the other hand, real estate agents pay the sites for advertising, exposure and leads, because of the clear return on investment, but do so begrudgingly and with a sense of fear.

“Most agents are afraid of these sites gaining too much power, continually raising prices, and perhaps even replacing them with an online-only offering.

“So, while real estate sites are best positioned to disrupt the real estate industry by displacing agents, they’re also the least likely to do so, because agents are their biggest customers and source of revenue.”

There is no real equivalent within the main UK portal sites. The nearest, though not really comparable, is the TemptMe feature on Zoopla, which allows property owners who may or may not be thinking of selling to receive “tempt me” offers direct from potential buyers.

Yesterday a Zoopla spokesperson told EYE: “TemptMe is quite different from Zillow’s Instant Offers and simply allows home owners to set a magic number at which they would be prepared to consider selling.

“Any interested house hunter who sees a TemptMe Price and is interested is then put in touch with a local agent by us, so this feature has proven popular with both agents and consumers alike. We have over 50,000 properties on our website with TemptMe Prices.”

Zillow: Killing the golden goose

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