Real estate agents own leads top Zillow, Trulia



  • Real estate brokers polled on issues.
  • Survey released by Imprev.
  • Real estate agents find self-generate leads far superior to those from Zillow, Trulia
eal estate brokers were asked about housing demand in the 2014 Imprev Thought Leaders Survey.

Real estate brokers were asked about housing demand in the 2014 Imprev Thought Leaders Survey.

Real estate agent leads for prospective clients that they have generated themselves are far more valuable than those from Zillow and Trulia, according to a new survey.


Despite the finding from the 2014 Fall Imprev Thought Leader Survey, agents and brokers spent $33 million in the third quarter to secure leads from the two real estate media companies, the Bellevue, Washington, company said.

“A real estate agent’s best lead is organic,” said Renwick Congdon, chief executive officer of Imprev, a real estate technology and marketing company.

“It comes directly from his or her sphere of influence, company or personal web site, and through local marketing, such as yard signs, flyers, and open houses,” Congdon added.

Imprev asked more than 270 broker-owners and top executives at leading franchises and independent brokerage firms, including those in Denver, to rank the value of leads. Together, the broker companies  were responsible for nearly half of all U.S. residential real estate transactions last year.

Some 86 percent of those responding said organic leads from an agent’s sphere of influence — past clients, and referrals — offer exceptional value (based on quality of the lead or return on investment).

By comparison, only 8 percent gave such high marks to Zillow, 7 percent to, and 5 percent to Craiglist. Only 4 percent cited Trulia as providing exceptional value.

“Real estate leaders are telling us their agents already have the gold — they just need to mine it,” Congdon said.

“The nurturing of organic leads from capture to transaction is crucial, and an area that I believe is not adequately embraced by the typical real estate agent.”

The survey showed that organic lead sources dominated the list of most-valuable lead sources.

An agent’s sphere of influence ranked first, followed by the broker’s website, with 32 percent of the real estate leaders rating the quality t as exceptionally valuable. in third place was local marketing, (flyers, walk-ins, signs, open houses), with 27 percent.

Zillow is in the process of buying Trulia in a $3.5 billion deal, which has raised concerns from some real estate brokers. If the government approves the deal, the merger is expected to take place next year.

Real estate brokers were surveyed on number of macro issues by Imprev.

Real estate brokers were surveyed on number of macro issues by Imprev.

Other key findings about lead generation:

Lead generation is a top concern for 2015:

  • Some 42 percent cited the creation of “systems for more effectively competing against the Real estate portals for generating leads” as among their top two technical challenges as they plan for next year, second only to “getting our systems to work together,” which topped the list with 54 percent.
  • Social media topped Zillow, Trulia and for online lead generation: 70 percent of real estate leaders rated social media (Facebook, etc.) as having “exceptional” or “reasonable” value, compared to 58 percent for Zillow, 49 percent for Trulia and 46 percent for
  • Craigslist topped the zero-value list:.32 percent  said Craigslist has “no value” as a lead-generation source, as measured by quality or ROI.
  • MLS Association ranked low as a lead generator: 22 percent of real estate leaders also said their MLS/Association had “no value” as a lead-generation source, with only Craigslist ranking lower. Only 9 percent of the respondents said MLS/Association had “exceptional” value.

In addition to questions on the leads, the survey also polled the leaders on issues such as what they think will happen with the housing demand, the U.S. economy and the real estate brokerage business over the next 12 months. Overall, the brokers tended to be about the same or slightly less bullish about next year  than they were about 2014 in 2013.


Meanwhile, other findings of the survey include:

  • Recruiting topped the 2015 to-do list. Recruiting agents was the top business challenge for 86 percent of the real estate leaders when planning for next year.
  • Retaining agents and teams was second, with 54 percent.
  • Attracting younger team members was third, with 50 percent. When asked, unprompted, “What’s your firm’s single-biggest challenge today?” nearly one in four cited recruiting and retaining agents as their biggest challenge, followed by growth (15 percent), profitability (13 percent) and an aging work force (7 percent).
  • Foreign home buyers aren’t high on most leaders’ lists for 2015. Despite substantial industry news coverage on real estate purchases by international home buyers and broker conflicts with MLS firms, only 8 percent of real estate leaders said “tapping into foreign home buyers” is among their most critical challenges as they plan for next year. I,tied for last place with “my MLS competes against us.”

The Thought Leader Survey was established by Imprev to provide insight on key business challenges top real estate executives face, encouraging an exchange of ideas and solutions.

The 2014 Fall Imprev Thought Leader survey was conducted in late October. Approximately one-third (32.5 percent) of the 270 respondents were 61 years old or older; 32.5 percent were 51 to 60; 25 percent were 41 to 50; and 12 percent were 31 to 40. None of the respondents were under 30. Sixty-eight percent were male, 32 percent were female.

Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at is sponsored by Universal Lending, Land Title Guarantee Co. and 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.



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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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