Zillow Cuts 25% of Staff

First Redfin, and now Zillow:

This week we are reducing our workforce by 25%. This was an incredibly painful decision for me and the leadership team, but, in the end, we concluded that we had no choice but to securely batten down the hatches as we sail into a major economic storm.

The unprecedented economic events that are playing out on a global stage began in our own industry and have made a prolonged recession likely, in our judgment. We are a young company that is not yet making a profit. Despite having sizeable cash reserves, we deemed the responsible course was to meaningfully reduce expenses, so that Zillow emerges from the other side of the recession in a very strong position, even if the recession lasts many years.

I’d like to extend my condolences to the now-former Zillow folks as well. Tough times.

Local tech reporter John Cook puts the layoff total at 40 employees. Now is apparently not a good time to be in the online real estate business.

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1
    Ray Pepper says:

    ” Now is apparently not a good time to be in the online real estate business.”

    We would disagree with this statement.

  2. 2
    MacAttack says:

    Moving out of Seattle to Portland isn’t as cheap as vice versa, either. SEA-> PDX 26′ U-haul truck is $205; Portland to Seattle is $96. Seattleites must need moving trucks.

    Sorry Zillow folks! My condolences.

  3. 3

    ” Now is apparently not a good time to be in the online real estate business.”

    “We would disagree with this statement.”

    For most people in the real estate biz, now is not a good time to be in business, online or otherwise, but being in the online real estate business would have a lot of advantages, and less expense…I’d think it would be especially hard for the franchise brokerages like JL Scott and Windermere, since each branch would have to pay a franchise fee in addition to all the office expenses, etc.
    Much as Zillow and Redfin have claimed to be doing things differently, and they do, they’re still part of the industry, part of the system, and I think they may be hurting less overall then some of their brick and mortar counterparts, and there may be one or two exceptions ( like Ray, soon to be known as 500 million Realty), but these are not happy bappy times in the real estate industry, despite many brokers talking about how things have turned around and that it’s a great time to buy. At my office, they just fired the broker because sales were down, and they wanted to go in a new “direction”…Strikes me as trying to squeeze blood from a turnip.

  4. 4
    Ben says:

    Why would you disagree Ray? Do you consider yourself in the online real estate business? If so, why do you speak in disdain of the idea of having a professional looking website?

  5. 5
    singliac says:

    I must have missed where Ray spoke in disdain of the idea of having a professional looking website.

  6. 6
    Ray Pepper says:

    “fired the broker for sales being down”..Good Lord!

    Ira as I sit here at the Home show I look around at furnace, window, tile, bathroom, construction of all types, and an assortment of other goods and services that I can see will not make it over the next few years. Its truly very sad. I spoke with alot of the merchants at the Tacoma Home Show and during set-up at the Seattle Home Show. They are hanging on….Literally. Red Fin’s and Zillow’s that require VC for sustainability will be travelling a rough road. We at 500 run very lean and Brokerages that open in the coming years will do the same. Nobody will throw money at Red Fin, Zillow, ZIP, and HV in the near term and they MUST preserve capital. I do see however, many 500 type companies arriving because the model is sustainable . Having Banks pay for Lead Generation and Agents that do not get paid a salary will be common. Brokers who choose to stay in Real Estate will adapt to new models. The brick and mortars will continue to shut their smaller offices and they will have central hubs.
    They will be fighting the downturn AND the uptick in new consumer conscious Brokerages.

    I still believe we will enter a large Brokerage at sometime in the near future and it will say “Assist your agent in finding your home and receive 5000.00 towards the purchase from this office.” When this occurs the floodgates will open.

    Until then time is most definitely on our side.

  7. 7
    Ray Pepper says:

    Gentlemen were working on the website……..Its my weakness because once again we run lean. However, the website is very functional and works perfectly. I constantly argue with the partners who are far more tech saavy then I. They cannot stand the website. I wanted it simple like Craigslist but it appears our complaints come from the Seattle customers and must be warranted.

    If anyone here would want to take all the data, and the cost is reasonable, I will turn the website over to them. Our webdesigner in Seattle is very expensive. Send me a proposal!

  8. 8
    Ben says:

    Well, in this post Ray says that he has a blog “under construction” but that was 3 months ago:


    I also pointed out that his spelling and website presentation were making his business look bad (at least to me) on this post:


    To be fair, he never said that he did not want a professional looking site, but he admitted that many people had given negative feedback on it and he was going to spend a bunch of money having kids spin signs on the side of the road.

    To be honest I feel bad for Ray, because he is obviously extremely dedicated to his business. That is why I think it is sad that he makes the mistake trusting his own taste when it comes to making a web site (look at any other web site in a similar business, and they all look more professional) and he does things to make his business look hokey like paying kids to spin signs (sorry, it makes any neighbourhood look like a bad one to see people holding signs like that. Like seeing cheque cashing businesses or pawn shops in a neighbourhood).

    Ray, I don’t know if you hate me for saying this but you come across as somebody who takes ideas no matter where they come from. I notice that you don’t have a giant sig with your web site in it any more, and maybe you have stopped calling commenting ‘blogging’. But your web site still looks like the web equivalent of one of those stores selling trinkets in Times Square. I am pretty sure that spending a few thousand dollars to have a design student make the site look nice and remove the terrible video of the lady would give you dividends in having more credibility and more customers.

  9. 9
    Thomas B. says:

    I feel sorry for the Zillow folks. I hope they find a job soon. Maybe people should switch from real estate broker to stock broker. The stock brokers must be raking in the fees from all the volatility.

  10. 10
    Ray Pepper says:

    Hey thats my wife!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! …….Since we placed that lady on the website we have gotten many clients that seem to understand what we do. It was a mere 450.00 to try it out indefinitely. Seattle being more educated on Red Fin over the years has contributed to the knowledge not to mention the high tech intellectual base.

    I cannot hire just some college student. Ben, do you want the job? Come speak to me over the weekend at the Home Show. You may not get the job but you will get a shirt!

    But, seriously anyone interested were ready. Come see me at the Show. I have many free tickets for entry! BTW Ben never feel sorry for me. Direct the sympathies at others. they need it

  11. 11
    Ben says:

    Ray, you responded while I was typing my probably too long reply to Singliac.

    Here is a good idea for you – go to places where web designers go to school, and put up a job offer for a student to redo the website. Ask them to give you a portfolio of what their stuff looks like.

    Since they are still in school they don’t demand the money, and you will be helping somebody build experience while you save money. A lot of programmers get their start in a similar way.

    Oh – and I just saw your comment about your wife. Sorry if I gave the impression that I thought she was the problem. I just don’t think that video has any place in a situation like that, no matter how pretty the lady is.

  12. 12
    Ben says:

    BTW Tim – I edited my comment above and now it says “anonymous”.

    And when I refresh it has my name again. How strange. Sorry all for the spam.

  13. 13
    The Tim says:

    Re: Ben @ 12 – Yeah, there’s a weird glitch with the comment editing plugin that makes it appear to temporarily change your name to “anonymous” after editing a comment. It only looks that way to the person editing the comment though.

    Re: Ray’s wife – He was being sarcastic. If you float over the video and click the little “Actor Store” link, you’ll see that it’s from a service that you send your script to and they send you back a flash video of someone reading it.

  14. 14
    Ray Pepper says:

    Ben…Time…I have 3 kids and 1 on the way. I’d rather just hire someone. My wife is a nurse and so am I. I can’t be chasing down college students. …
    Check this site out….What are your thoughts compared to ours. i think this one is a joke. Listen to the auditory testimonials. I can’t help but laugh!


    Similar model but they force you to use their lender, title, etc….But, give me your thoughts. To me its trash.

    Tim…………..Shhhhhh…I wish she was……

  15. 15
    Ben says:

    Ray, I make significantly more than a college student and I am an operating systems programmer, not a website designer.

    I am curious why you cannot high a college student? Ask them for a portfolio, make a contract, pay them the money. Why would it work out any different to hiring a much more expensive firm? I agree that there is slightly more risk, but you want to spend less money and accepting higher risk is one way to get that.

    Ray, I actually agree with you that different models for RE sales are the future, and it is in my interest for you to drive on that because I cannot and will not do so. This is why I am trying to give you advice on things that I do know about, because I want your business to be more successful than the places who don’t respect me as a consumer.

    The reason why I love Redfin is their technology more than their business model. The business model keeps me interested but the technology that they have is what has me on their web site every single day. Keep in mind that with Zillow, Redfin, etc I can see their technology and value without leaving my seat because their software is so good. This is what 500reality is missing.

  16. 16
    Ben says:

    I think that I completely agree that the bravobrokers site looks terrible, much worse than yours. Bad enough that I don’t care what their business model is, because I can tell that they are too unprofessional to have a real web site.

    I don’t understand what you are saying about the college students. Anybody that you pay money to you potentially have to chase down. When I was in college everybody that I knew was holding down odd jobs like this and they did it very well. Some of them built these jobs into careers.

    Let me put it this way. If you had a physical store front, would you get your 5 year old kid to paint the signage for the place or would you pay to have professional looking signage on the store? Would you have a handwritten hours sign written on a notepad or something more professional looking?

  17. 17
    Ray Pepper says:

    Ben, I will send all the partners to this dialogue. I will get it done. I love Red Fin’s website as well. Except search. I’m a slave to the NWMLS. We will get the website changed before we ad the new zones to the CNBC commercials.

    Currently we transmit to just 160k homes in Bellevue and Tacoma. We are supposed to buy up Seattle, Renton, Puyallup, and Gig Harbor adding 320k homes watching our head knocker commercial thats on the Homepage. I will get the website done before we sign on again.

    Thanks for the advice!

    okok I will look into the college route….But, please tell me you heard the verbal testimonials on bravo. Especially the first one.

  18. 18
    Gene Dexter says:

    Ray, may I ask a few questions?

    Assuming for just a moment it only takes an MLS listing to sell a home:

    1. What will your brokerage advice be pertaining to #9 of page one of purchase & Sale agreement? Has your office taken a position regarding seller disclosure discrepancies and the six year of exposure to agency?

    2. To what extent will agency assist with buyers response on form 35?

    3. To what extent will agency advise regarding form 34 / special requests and options?

    4. Who will review all photo uploads pertaining to compliance? Will written instructions be given to seller as to what MLS rules are regarding descriptions, photos, etc?

    5. Who will be the licensed representative from your office to conduct open houses?

    6. Will agency be providing expertise or assistance regarding marketing, flyers, dealing with buyers agents, objections?

    Assuming this website is a Washington State Brokerage, will any college students or assistants be licensed or under your direction as broker?


  19. 19
    Ben says:

    This might sound lame but my computer has lost the speakers to my wife temporarily, so I cannot hear anything. But in general hearing audio on a web page has me looking for the mute on the page or navigating away as quickly as possible. IMO nothing drives people away from your page like audio.

    The Redfin search is the best part for me. Being able to filter based on map and on other criteria is very helpful. People think in terms of location with real estate, so having the map there constantly is useful. I don’t know what NWMLS does because it appears that you need to be a member to search there.

    I am going to stop commenting for a while because I think that this post is looking like the Ben and Ray show, and that is not fair to other readers. Sorry Tim.

  20. 20
    Ray Pepper says:

    Now Gene, I will answer all your questions but please understand I have 2 Agents on duty working our booth and I have to get back. All our services are listed on our website. What you get for 500.00 is plainly listed. We also have a plan available for sellers who want in home pictures, in home CMA, Open Houses, and Color Fliers. For that we charge 1%. However, 95% of our sellers elect the 500.00 plan.

    Our company, like Red Fin, was made for Buyers. Through Lead Generation we can credit back 75%. It is my hope that in a few years we can give back 100% to Buyers but I’m against having 500 Mortgage being used as an incentive for the 100%. Its all still in the works.

    To answer you quickly before I return to booth:

    We list no Short Sales or foreclosure properties.
    Our Agents are responsible for obtaining form 17 from clients and inputting all pictures that get emailed to us from the seller within NWMLS compliance.
    We have no college students or unlicensed staff on duty at 500 Realty. All our employees are listed on the NWMLS and our website.
    We do not do open houses (unless 1%) and we advise all sellers to do their own if they wish and they can place a balloon on our sign post and advertise it on Craigs List. We give them the Open house Sign Markers if requested per NWMLS guidlines. We never post it in the NWMLS since it will not be conducted by a Licensed Agent.
    In/re to your other questions we are as FULL Service as you are when an offer is received. We tell all Sellers to please bring in your offer and lets discuss it with one of our Agents. However, many of our sellers elect to use their own Attorney or one from our Website for guidance.

    I think i got it all…

    Gene, i clicked on your link and I must ask Ben………….Ben do you like Gene’s website? Do you like the lady that talks? I actually do.

  21. 21
    buyStocks says:

    I’m merely just a web designer/programmer hobbyist, but I only think Ray’s web page suffers from two easy to fix glaring problems.

    First, you need to have the lady go to the upper right of your page, so she doesn’t stop the user from clicking your main links on the upper left.

    Second, keep your web site seamless by using the same header picture and color theme throughout your entire site (changes to your header picture and theme color is making your web page to jumpy when changing pages). Changing web page theme colors and headers can be done, but it needs to be done well and in your case is probably not worth the cost.

    A college student? Horrible advice. Your running a business, not a family web page. You need a web site designer long-term to be able to access or change your website, imagine the annoyance if you couldn’t access you website, your domain name expired, etc. Either keep your current web designer who has a good portfolio, find a new one, or if your very, very lucky find a friend/family who’s up to the task.

    good luck

  22. 22
    Gene Dexter says:

    Thanks Ray. There are two reasons why many in our field have been expecting reversals for partial service agencies such as RedFin:

    1. Sellers now see the value of marketing professionals who have made the investment of time and money in their business and brand, hiring them at a rate commensurate with reputation, experience, incentive and performance.

    2. Buyers are beginning to see the value of step by step and 100% representation, beginning with a competitive offer based on their agent’s written analysis, comps and neighborhood stats, followed by an inspection process with agent present at all showings (per MLS rules), responding to and negotiating issues pertaining to said inspection, and general peace of mind knowing that as a licensed and insured (errors and omissions policy) agent whose office is a NAR member ( National Association Of Realtors), the seller expense is well worth the amount paid.

    As an aside, many of the top buying agents in Seattle purchase home warranties for their buyers, further insuring a safe and secure purchase for his/her client.

    With all this in mind, how does $500.00 cut it in this business? Furthermore, how does a business such as, say….RedFin, conduct a business with an ala carte menu of services that the rest of us offer…….. all inclusively?

  23. 23
    Gene Dexter says:

    In this post, I would like to expand on why I asked about #9 of page 1 of Washington State Purchase And Sale Agreement:

    It took 16 hours of MLS classes for me to completely master this single line of the contract. Today, all agents at my office have an ironclad position regarding this clause, as the marking of either option (there are two) has most serious consequences to the seller and BOTH agencies involved in any sale under MLS.

    There are ,conservatively, 11 pages of documentation with an average offer in Seattle.

    Now my point…….I cannot have this ongoing level of real estate education and experience covered by a $500.00 transaction. May I suggest that RedFin can’t either at 1%, pre-tax, pre insurance, pre triple net? Especially with the average $100,000 in fines that have been levied against them for past MLS violations?

  24. 24
    Civil Servant says:

    I want to go on record as agreeing with Ben that money spent on a web programmer/designer, especially when building a business, is well spent. Don’t forget the writer/editor though. Ben, you write clearly and persuasively, but one doesn’t often find both abilities resident in the same person. (I worked in software and IT for a long time.) Also, I don’t know anyone who likes a web site with sound. I for one will always close a browser window when a site starts making noise I didn’t ask for. Good luck, Ray!

  25. 25
    The Tim says:

    For those that dislike websites with sound (as I do), may I recommend Firefox with the FlashBlock extension. Works like champ.

  26. 26
    george says:


    Joe Consumer has a couple questions:

    1) What does it cost to hire a real estate lawyer (with a law degree) to read the contract? What percent of $475,000?

    2) A buyer walks into a house. How often does she encounter an agent who is trying to sell it?

    3) Are you claiming the online agencies are losing business to old school agents?

  27. 27
    Herman says:

    george, an RE attorney will handle the offer for a flat $500.

  28. 28
    Thomas B. says:

    Re: George @ 26

    I agree with the point you are trying to get at with Gene.

    First, lawyers charge a flat fee for doing the same thing a real estate agent does. Don’t be fooled by real estate agents… most real estate contracts are boilerplate and don’t change, so all you have to do is learn one contract. The reason for the boilerplate is that if a lawyer has to craft a new contract every time, the costs go up, and every new contract exposes the realtor to liability. Realtors only check boxes and fill in the blanks.

    Second, all real estate agents are interested in getting the most money for the least amount of work. When I bought my house, I identified more houses that fit my desires than my real estate agent. I did most of the work in the transaction. She got a $5,000 payday for maybe 30 hours of work, and the majority of that time was trying to get me to buy a more expensive house in a part of town I didn’t want to live. I’d rather pay a lawyer or Redfin, than some salesman.

  29. 29
    The Tim says:

    Second, all real estate agents are interested in getting the most money for the least amount of work.

    To be fair, isn’t that all that most people are interested in?

  30. 30
    Ben says:


    We can agree to disagree about the college student thing. It all depends what you are looking for. Do you want somebody to hit your stylesheets with the pretty stick, or do you want to have somebody ‘own’ your website and take direction and make sure it works, looks good, etc, etc?

    Ray seems to want to keep costs under control. In today’s business environment, your web site is your store front. Go back 30 years and see if a store manager would let you have the place look dirty or tacky. Same thing today – your web site is the first (and often only) impression that people have.

    To use an analogy, hiring a college student to hit your site with a pretty stick is like hiring somebody who is going to school for graphic design to design a new logo or storefront signage for you. It is a one-off deal, you get to see the result before you use it and you just need to see previous examples of work to get an idea if things will work out. And a nice storefront does drive business to a brick and mortar store, have no doubt.

    Hiring a full time web design / programming house for a small business is like building the Seattle REI store for a small sandwich shop. It makes no sense. Horses for courses and all that. Ray does not need an e-commerce site, he needs a small set of pages that are easy to manage. At the point where he needs a database or a tiered data system he will be at the point where he probably needs to hire computer people full time, something which it does not sound like he wants to do.

    As for Gene’s web site, I don’t like it much. Even with the sound off I can tell it is trying to talk to me right off the bat, and I don’t like that. He does have a consistent look and feel throughout the site, which is better than the 500 reality site (I agree with buyStocks on this point). But he loses points with me by having what looks to be a ‘tree’ of content on the left that is in fact just links. I also honestly don’t understand why agents have tiny postage stamp pictures of properties with just a price and small description. No link to an MLS listing, nothing. I have two problems with this:

    a) If I go out to buy (and I was in the market for a couple of years recently) then I want to look at every single property for sale in an area and filter stuff out based on age, sq ft, lot size, etc.

    b) Then I go through and look at pictures. The bigger and clearer the pictures, the easier it is to see the property. The thumbnail list of properties does not give me anything close to this.

    I think that RE agents have this on their pages because it looks familiar to them from the print days where you show off pictures of listings in a booklet or something. But the internet does not have a limit on pages, and you have competition with databases. You are better off linking to somebody with a database than to show that you don’t understand them or ignore their existence.

    I have worked with folks before who can seriously beat pretty into a web site, and also give it a good flow and make you feel like you are working with a quality product and company. You can give them any web site and they will make it pretty.

    I think that if you really want web on a budget, go to wordpress or blogger and make some pages there and pick a template. You will make something that looks cheap, but at least it will be familiar to people and it will not be ugly. Something like CostCo does in the B&M.

  31. 31
    Mike2 says:

    In a way I’m relieved that the startup layoffs so far have been in RE businesses and those with ad-based business models. On the other hand, if tier one venture firms start cutting off money to solid revenue generating businesses, then we’re in for a second dot com bust far worse than the previous one.

  32. 32
    BrianL says:

    What is Zillows profit model? Redfin I get, but how did Zillow plan to make money?

  33. 33
    Thomas B. says:

    To be fair, isn’t that all that most people are interested in?

    That may be true, but you don’t expect it out of someone that is suppose to be working in your best interest. Buyer’s agents should be held to a fiduciary duty. The only way to do that is to pay a flat fee. Agents that are good at getting the buyer a discount or what the customer desires can command a higher rate. In this way, the buyer and buyer’s interests are aligned.

  34. 34
    Everett Renter (Used to be Buyer) says:

    Regarding post #22:

    “2. Buyers are beginning to see the value of step by step and 100% representation, beginning with…”

    I do not see a positive value at all. Period. In fact, I see a negative value to using an old school real estate agent. When I re-enter the market as a buyer I will be using a service that pays the buyer for the buyer’s effort.

  35. 35
    Euro says:

    Ben, get a ‘nephew’ if that makes you happy, but typically you’ll get what you pay for.

  36. 36
    buyStocks says:

    I agree on importance of web presence. The problem with the college student approach is that it’s a one time thing. What if several months later you want to change a phone number, wording, etc…. He doesn’t need to hire the web devel full time, just gotta pay for the hours of service. I also don’t think you’d be taken as seriously if used a simple do-it-yourself template such as blogger etc..

    I actually think Ray’s web designer overall did a good job, and he/she also has a good portfolio with lots of variety. While I agree the talking lady is over the top, I still can’t help myself listening to her (and I’m a linux command-line minimalist). It just kills me though that I can’t click on the links because of her, which is such an easy fix. The annoying multiple theme issue was actually requested by 500 realty (they give description of each website at the web devel portfolio page), which the web devel obviously was not able to deliver on effectively. This multiple theme can also be quickly changed by modifying their CSS file.

    I think Gene’s page is actually kind of awful and outdated, and he needs to go with a new web devel (there is no real variety in the web devel portfolio; they all seem to come from same outdated framework).

  37. 37
    Garth says:


    Open houses are a complete waste of time and Ray’s business model with real agents, fixed costs not based on a percentage and a independent lawyer is far more dangerous to the 6% than redfin in my estimation.

    I used an agent team I was very pleased with on our first real estate purchase and I don’t regret it at all for the time and circumstances, but if I am looking to sell in 10 years I don’t plan on paying a percentage again.

  38. 38
    Interloper says:

    Though I’m not a heavy user of either Zillow or Redfin, Redfin sure seems more useful during a bubble.

    Zillow is more of a bubble-builder, with valuation estimates that are still too high. As my real estate agent said of Zillow’s lofty estimates, “Yeah, it may say it’s worth that much, but I’ve never seen Zillow deliver the check.”

    Redfin is more of a bubble-burster, because you can compare listing vs. last sold prices. When I browse Redfin, the discrepancy current listings and their sale prices 2-or-3 years ago are still so high, it helps me conclude that the bubble is still out there and will take more time to deflate.

  39. 39

    I’m going to disagree with both Gene and Thomas.
    Gene’s a full service realtor, so he must feel that he’s got to defend what he does and put down the discount and flat fee brokers.
    Thomas B infers that all real estate agents are nothing but lazy thieves, and that all they do is fill out very simple paperwork.

    The truth is somewhere in between. Some agents actually are looking out for their clients best interests and take the time listening to their clients, and have the skill to find and negotiate deals, and provide information and insight. Yeah, many agents just want the commission and will say anything and do anything to get that, and are about as insincere a group as anyone, but some are real advocates for their clients and take that role extremely seriously.
    But if it’s a simple deal, why not use a real estate attorney? I’ve actually referred potential clients to attorneys, and ‘m an agent, but I’m just weird that way…
    There’s a place for full service agents, discount agents, real estate attorneys, and do it your selfers, but what’s most important is that whoever is working for you is effective and looking out for your interests…Dishonesty can take the form of a full service agent, a discount flat fee agent, or an attorney.

  40. 40
    Everett_Tom says:

    It’s ok.. price will spike back up in 2011 , the PI told me so :


    But with builders focused on selling the homes they have, rather than developing new ones, Seattle is headed for a serious shortage that could bring a return to double-digit price appreciation starting in 2012, according to one local analyst.
    “We will see one to two years of double-digit appreciation, bringing home prices back to the peak that they were in 2007 or 2006, if not higher,” said Todd Britsch, president and principal of New Home Trends, a Bothell consulting firm.

  41. 41
    Buceri says:

    By now the PI has to be running out of experts that still have some credibility (credibility = anyone that was not quoted saying “this is a great time to buy”.)

    These folks don’t know crap about economics. The United Consumers of America is broke, done.

    Me duele por mis hijas…..

  42. 42
    Thomas B. says:

    Ira @ 39

    My experiences with realtors have left me cynical regarding the worth of having an agent. I strongly believe the real estate broker market can benefit consumers by having more competition. For too long traditional realtors have had a monopoly stranglehold on the real estate market which allowed subpar and dishonest realtors to do business and flourish.

    I disagree that the majority of realtors are honest to buyers. I believe they are biased to the seller, whether representing the seller or the buyer. The only way to prevent the abuses of the past several years is to require a flat fee for buyer’s agents. A flat fee will discourage dishonest buyer’s brokers from acting in the seller’s interest or their own interest. If they are good at what they do, then they can charge a higher rate. If not, then they don’t gain windfall profits from their dishonesty. This is the free market. If you are bad at what you do, then you don’t get paid. If you are good, then you get paid a premium. This is unlike the current system where good and bad get paid regardless of performance.

  43. 43
    david losh says:

    It’s unfortunate about Zillow. rodfun was, in my opinion, a cheap swindle.
    The Real Estate brokerage business model is broken. There is no question about that.
    It surprises me every time that I read through blogs about Real Estate. Bad information, just bad, unfathomable tangents about how to sell the next sucker a house permeate the internet.

    The system was set up to be a service to the seller. Buyers were the life blood of the commission. A buyer went to Real Estate agents because the agents knew the inventory. The reference about a monopoly of the listing goes back to when the MLSs were a closed system. Now everybody can see listings and are experts.

    Number one there are no Real Estate contracts and an attorney is useless. It’s a Purchase and Sale Agreement. It’s a meeting of the minds between a buyer and seller. It’s a negotiation. The closing, now usually in an escrow office, is where you sign contracts.

    That’s just an example of the kind of “information” that’s discussed on the internet. You’re not going to find a Real Estate agent blogging on the internet. Most of you had it pegged correctly, agents are trawling for business.

    Real Estate agents are busier than ever now. Now is a time when people need agents. When people were spending twice the price for houses they needed agents also, but the vast majority of buyers and sellers hired who ever told them what they wanted to hear. Everybody’s an expert.

    Real Estate is not a commissioned sales position. That’s another confusion. You hire a Real Estate agent based on experience, product knowledge, and negotiating skills.

    It’s sad but true you are here getting more Real Estate information from a guy who was trained as an electrical engineer than the thousands of purported Real Estate blogs out there. It is sad.

    As you no doubt know by now, it is Saturday morning and this Seattle Bubble guy could use a million dollars. There is a contribution button on the right hand side of the site. It’s safe and easy. Let’s contribute to a guy who has given you more information and a forum to discuss it.

  44. 44
    Ben says:

    David Losh,

    Why is Redfin a cheap swindle?

    And if I use an agent, I don’t want to talk to one that is not at least familiar with this site. Considering the magnitude of the bubble and the effect that the popping of it will have, any agent who does not read this site will not be in a good position to be a good advocate for me at the negotiating table. That is why I will probably give Ira a call.

    I disagree that agents are busier than ever now. Maybe the ones that are stil working. But a lot of part time agents are going to call it quits.

  45. 45
    Red says:

    I seriously doubt the credibility of news form seattle PI

    I have been a big fan of them, but of late over past few months the real estate news from seattle pi is biased towards brokers/builders.

    I myself being into some deals, believe seattle/redmond real estate market is bad (may not be worse like other places) but still overpriced.

    Forget double digit increases as said by PI, I would consider myself lucky if there are no double digit drops by 2012.

    Comoon guys! Be realistic.

  46. 46
    Crusader says:

    My opinion is that housing prices will crater by 2013, stay flat until 2018 and then start to rise again with normal inflation. Basically the next 10 years will be an excellent time to become a new home owner. Though I recommend to wait another 4-5 years renting.

  47. 47

    Thomas B @ 42,
    I hope i didn’t give you the impression that I believe that the majority of agents are honest to buyers. I dealt with a number of them prior to becoming an agent, and many more since becoming an agent. I agree with you. A lot of agents aren’t necessarily in the sellers corner or the buyers corner…they’re looking out for themselves.

  48. 48
    david losh says:

    Many people have Real Estate licenses.

    Agency is different. You make my point that people are confused about who, or what an agent is. Those people who are actively involved in the business are finding long time clients seeking them out and referring people to them.

    This site has a point of view. In the world of negotiations there are many factors that make up a transaction.

    It’s a dance of if you represent a buyer or seller. Your seller should net the most your buyer should pay the least. Sellers wanted too much and buyers were paying too much. If your an agent that left very few legitimate deals.

    People hired people with licenses who told them what they wanted to hear. They got sold. Many sellers made a lot of money for nothing. Thanks to luck I was one of them. There again without benefit of this site I along with millions of other people saw that prices were out of control.

    A little over a year ago a Real Estate agent pointed me to this site by referring to the people who comment here as “the flying monkeys.”

    Now about rodfun. They were looking for venture capital. The Glen guy never cared a lick about anything other than his salary. He’s out looking for the next scam to promote. What bothers me is that he stood in front of Congress to promote his swindle. He used our tax dollars. There was never any intention of doing anything. If he made money it was gravy to what he already got.

    The same internet scams are everywhere, some stick like expedia. It’s a swindle, scam, con job. The list goes on and millions or billions of dollars are made on the internet every day.

    Which brings us again to the Tim of Seattle Bubble. I think if a 100,000 people contribute $10 to The Seattle Bubble site the Tim can make a million dollars. Why don’t we give him that little bit for all of the things he provides here for us?

  49. 49
    Softwarengineer says:


    Trouble is, you can’t intiate Socialism spending without getting the title to the business (something our American Constitution prohibits, not that the bailout maniacs cared). The result, the pirate CEOs grabbed the free bailout money and stuck it in their cash can to ride out the inevitable depression (?) they predict. They raised home interest rates and made car loans impossible, in other words the bank pirates stole our “JOBS” money.

    We can talk Obama/McCain tax breaks until our faces turn blue now; but let’s face it; without massive across the board federal budget butcher axing ASAP, it just ain’t possible.

    We need that money back!

  50. 50
    Ray Pepper says:

    Seattle Home Show amazingly crowded today. I was shocked. I spoke with the usual Red Finians and of course they loved our value proposition of the 75% and the no fee home tours ever. I must say I like the Seattle Home Show far more then the Tacoma Home Show. The Seattle market has been educated over the past 5 years with Red Fin while Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston, and Mason County is virtually untouched in education on how to Buy and Sell.

    1 last day tomorrow then done till February with the Home Shows. Thank God! BTW only 1 rude Agent this year but I missed it while blogging yesterday in the FSN sports lounge. Too bad. He got our “nicest agent” that would rather say “Ok I’m sorry you disagree with our model” instead of me ” listen buddy just do me a favor and wear this dang shirt on the way out the door!”

  51. 51
    Ben says:

    So Redfin is a scam because they are a startup that wants venture capital? I don’t understand where you are coming from. VC is just a way to fund a business, it is essentially just selling shares in the business en mass.

    Ray – I would have gone to the show but I had some family business to attend to. Pity, because I went to a show like that in Bellevue once and it was interesting.

    Hey Tim – here is a poll idea. Ask people where the Seattle area Case Schiller index will be this January.

  52. 52


    Please stop calling Redfin “rodfun”. It’s not funny and it makes you look bad.

  53. 53
    david losh says:

    radfun, better?

    No, the Glen guy made a case for changing the Real Estate business model, OK great. He went to Congress to promote a discount brokerage. He wanted access to the MLS system to broadcast.

    He along with others got what they asked for and today we have the transparent Real Estate business clamored for. What I see is that John L Scott, a traditional brokerage, was on that very path.

    The Glen guy manipulated our Congressional system as a crusader. In my opinion it was purely a promotional stunt. The Glen guy used that free publicity, actually our tax dollars.

    The idea that some one is going to sit at a computer to find a property to purchase, then do the transaction on line, get a mortgage, and close all from the living room is a romantic notion. It was used to get fifty five million dollars.

    In my opinion the Glen guy is a spokesman, a promoter, nothing more. It’s also my opinion that the venture capital was the goal of the start up. It went beyond what anyone ever expected by virtue of publicity.

    The internet is a great thing. I like it. What horrifies me is that people begin to look at the internet as something other than entertainment.

    That entertainment is free, like this forum. There are ways, legitimate ways, to make money from a web site, like by contribution.

  54. 54
    stephen says:

    The internet is a great thing. I like it. What horrifies me is that people begin to look at the internet as something other than entertainment.

    The internet stopped being just entertainment a couple of years in. I’m not going to waste space here, just do a search and you will find numerious white papers on the subject with tons of stats to back up the claims.

    I am curious as to why this would horrify you?

  55. 55
    david losh says:

    The white papers are correct, there is a group think concept to the internet. Sound bites of information that are taken as truth, like television. Those papers show you that there is a thirty second attention span to wards the internet. When you research there is a tendency to move from one item to another with the impression of giving a rounded picture. Of course you won’t waste the time. That’s what it’s all about, quick, easy, to the point.
    OK when the two years in was established back in 1998? 2000? 2002? the internet was vastly different than it is today. The internet grows exponentially every second of millions of people participating. The information data, change. In the time it took me to write this the internet has changed, perceptions have changed, information, data, has changed.

    The horror is that the internet is manipulated daily. My point has been that a guy trained and educated as an electrical engineer, who didn’t even own a house, began a blog that is one of the very few sites giving information or discussion about Real Estate. I believe this guy is honest as opposed to the thousands of people doing business on the internet today who are not.

    This is horrifying to me. People are making decisions to pay way too much for a property that they see on the internet. People get information about the stock market on the internet a plunk down cash for ETrading. I absolutely hate expedia. My family was ripped off without question three times out of six trips booked on expedia. The other three trips had to be booked on line because travel agents don’t do that any more. There was no savings. We all pay for the inconvenience of shopping on the internet. We buy sub standard products we can not feel touch or smell on the internet.

    It is entertainment that we all pay for.

    On this site there is a contribution box on the upper right side under the I Buy Houses ad. By giving generously to this site you help to promote the concept that the internet was at one time. One guy making a difference.

  56. 56
    buyStocks says:


    You forget your meds today? I think the internet is great.

    disclaimer – I make no money off the internet

  57. 57
    david losh says:

    No, not off my meds, thanks.

    It’s my personal ax to grind about the Real Estate internet business model.

  58. 58
    stephen says:

    Well, OK then :-)

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