BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Ever wonder what happens when you post a property on Zillow as a “For Sale” listing?
Here’s the answer: you find out just how desperate realtors are.
Within 16 hours of changing a home’s status from “Make Me Move” to “For Sale,” a voicemail number set up just for this experiment received 40 calls — all from real estate agents who claimed they had “buyers in your area.” But, when called and questioned, the agents admitted they were just trying to get a listing. The voicemail box contained nearly 70 calls after three days.
Calls for the Boca Raton property came from real estate agents in the Keys. In Fort Myers. In Orlando. In Jacksonville (for our non-Florida readers, that’s much of the state). All over Palm Beach County. Calls came from agents in New Jersey and New York (“we have old cash buyers!”) And get this: several calls came from what seems to be a call center in India. These were quite possibly the same people who call you and claim that your version of Windows is infected (even though you’re using a Mac), or that you owe money to the IRS which is sending agents right now to arrest you unless you give them a credit card number. They all claimed to be real estate agents with buyers “near your house.” Our guess: they sell leads to area realtors.
BocaNewsNow.com has always believed that most — not all, but most — Realtors are unscrupulous self-loving ethically challenged people who are far more responsible for the “Great Recession” than anyone ever acknowledges. Take 6 or 7 percent out of the cost of a home and, well, the home is suddenly worth 6 or 7 percent less. The cost of an agent leads to an unsustainable and illegitimate rise in property value. To be clear: there is virtually nothing that a realtor does that the internet and a semi-good lawyer can’t.
Consider this: for a one million dollar house which is not exactly abnormal in Boca Raton, a real estate agent who represents both buyer and seller, charging 6.5 percent, is walking away with $65,000.
For what? Telling you how many closets are on the second floor?
Our experiment proved, admittedly unscientifcally, that Zillow is a great website with a serious problem. It needs to get out of bed with realtors. In fact, we would like to see Zillow change its terms of service to prohibit realtors from using it as a phone list for cold calling. It undermines the site’s credibility and makes realtors look worse than they normally do. We would like to see the National Association of Realtors add to its code of conduct — if such a document exists — a ban on cold calling potential customers listing their home on a site like Zillow. Certainly suggesting that “I have a buyer in your area” as an incentive for a seller to commit to representation is wrong, if not criminal.
Real estate agents are licensed by the State of Florida. It’s not unreasonable to believe that ethical conduct should be enforced.
But that’s not the world in which we live, so note that you’ve been warned. To quote a popular children’s book title, if you give a mouse a cookie, you know he’ll ask for a glass of milk. If you list a house on Zillow, you will almost assuredly find scores of needy real estate agents acting like a desperate kid who needs a date for the prom.