On Joining Zillow…

What you are about to read may very well blow a few minds across the real estate Internet space. Or not. We’re about to find out…


Earlier today, I accepted a full-time position with Zillow.

No, really. Soon I will be Zillow’s Director of Industry Outreach & Social Media.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Why? When? Where? What?

Why? In a nutshell, because I love a challenge, and I love working with ridiculously smart people. And trust me, this will be a challenge and Zillow is full of ridiculously smart people.

When? Soon, very soon. There isn’t an official start date yet because much needs to be done around here first. Primarily, the lovely Francy Thompson, Master of the Real Estate Universe and Queen of Brokerage Operations is going to be adding, “Designated Broker, Thompson’s Realty” to her job title.

I can’t work for Zillow full-time and be the DB of Thompson’s Realty, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So Francy (who really has been “The Boss” since Day 1) is going to put even more work on her plate.

She’s a tough chick, she can handle it. Last night she enrolled in broker licensing classes (God help her) on the three-week plan. By the end of April she will have a freshly minted Arizona Broker’s License.

This isn’t a good time to get me started on everything that is wrong with being able to get a real estate broker’s license in three weeks — and actually, believe it or not, you can do it in 9 days. But people would die if she tried to complete it in 9 days. Hence the three-week plan. Here’s a post I wrote about my experience in broker licensing classes over 4.5 years ago.  Whoops, I digress.

Francy will be the broker, Thompson’s Realty won’t really change for the foreseeable future, and I will be doing something completely different.

Where? My job at Zillow will require some travel, and a lot of time in Seattle (where Zillow is headquartered). For a long time now I’ve wanted to try out the “urban living” lifestyle — living right smack in the middle of a thriving and vibrant downtown community — and now is my chance. I’ll be renting an apartment in downtown Seattle (I’ve found several possibilities on, ahem, Zillow.com), and Francy will make frequent visits there and I will make frequent visits back here. This will be a big change for us, but we are both really excited about the opportunity.

What? Like “What the heck is he thinking?” or “What the heck will he be doing?” What I’m thinking is I have an opportunity to work with an amazingly talented team in a sector of the real estate space that has always fascinated me. While it may seem odd to some to give up control of a successful real estate brokerage, sometimes you have to take a big leap into something different and just follow your passions.

I have always loved education and training, and if you’ve followed any of my travels about the interwebs it should be no surprise that I am a bit of a  social / new media enthusiast. I think — strike know — that I can help Zillow progress, improve and grow as well as help agents all across the country understand and develop their business. And Zillow and those agents can help me do the same.

But, it’s Zillow

Believe me, I know what some agents think of Zillow. I got yelled at on the NAR Annual trade show floor for wearing a Zillow t-shirt (which BTW is too small now. Wonder if I can get a new one? Or a hoodie!). Granted, I have freely admitted that I don’t fully understand the fear of Zillow some seem to have (I wrote this almost five years ago. And this, over five years ago). I think it’s mostly the unknown. Or the misunderstood. So what say we try to fix that?

I have written about Zillow since they launched. I’ve met many people that work (or worked) for Zillow and consider some of them good friends. So why not join the Zillow team and see if we can’t just change some perceptions and help out some agents and brokers? I think we can. And I can’t wait to start.

The bottom line is this — I’ve pondered this change long and hard and decided why not follow my passions and see where they take me? Life is a journey, and this is just one more step along the path.

Mark Twain may have said it best…

20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

It’s time to explore, dream and discover!

As always, your thoughts and comments are appreciated. Don’t be shy!

More here:

Press release

Zillow Blog




  1. innahamedia says

    @PhxREguy ->>holy shit….[if you’re happy, i beez happy for yah, Jay], but still, holy shit…:-)

  2. says

    Jay, wow. Interesting news. Have fun! Some people just won’t understand what it means to “catch the trade winds”. This means different things to different people (for me it meant just recently starting my brokerage), and you clearly are pursuing a passion of yours – so kudos to you and your family. I’ll be looking forward what this position manifests into for you. I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now, and will no doubt continue to follow you. Congrats! 

  3. amyjgeddes says

    @PhxREguy I would go straight to the Zillow “Goretex” vs. hoodie and grab an umbrella :) On the upside the food and culture is FANTASTIC!!

  4. karenstl says

    Congrats Jay. I love how the RE web brings great opportunities to people who are doing things right.

  5. KathleenBuckley says

    “…Sometimes you have to take a big leap into something different and just follow your passions.” 
    Godspeed Jay Thompson.

  6. nickratliff says

    @PhxREguy very happy for you Jay. Sounds like a great challenge. Looking forward to learning from you.

  7. Judy Moriarty says

    Super news Jay!  I hope Zillow realizes how lucky they are to have you!  Wishing you all the best as you embark on your new adventure

  8. BillyAzRE says

    @PhxREguy CONGRATS!!! I think it is great and inspiring to see you do something radical to pursue your passion.

  9. says

    “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.  ”
    -Helen Keller
    Good luck. 

  10. says

    Wow.  I like Zillow but this makes them awesome.   This is very cool.  I hope the arrangement is not too hard on your personal life.  Congrats.

  11. KadeDworkin says

    @PhxREguy Congrats Jay! That’s a huge opportunity, something that should be a lot of fun and a perfect amount of challenge.

  12. JonathanDalton says

    “People have talked about Zillow since the day it launched,” he said. “I’ve written frequently on my blog about agents who fear Zillow — I never have, I see them as a partner rather than a competitor.”
    That quote is somewhat heartbreaking. Not all of us who thrash Zillow do so because we fear them. We do it because we have the courage to continue pointing out the emperor has no clothes long after all the others forgot having been told in the first place.
    A true partner to this industry wouldn’t flood the online space with bogus information that serves only to confuse consumers … and a true partner doesn’t spend the bulk of their time reaching for your wallet.

  13. JLKnapp says

    @PhxREguy Oh wow Jay. Congrats! I know you’ll be awesome. Just be home often enough for #evfn!

  14. says

    Woohoo! Busy guy!  First, go have some Southwest chowder at Pike’s Place Chowder, then dinner at The Steelhead Diner, then next try the mushroom pizza at Serious Pie……you have a lot to do! :)

  15. says

    This doesn’t surprise me in the least. In fact, it was probably predictable. I wish you all that you’re passion dictates you pursue. The anticipation must be intense. Major congrats, Jay.

  16. says

    Jay & Zillow,
    I can think of no better person to be with Zillow to interact with between the Realtor community and the Zillow community. This is totally a step forward for Jay, Zillow, Realtors and our industry. I wish Jay an Zillow the very best with this major opportunity for all concerned.

  17. Kimberly Dotseth says

    Jay, there isn’t enough interesting news LIKE yours in our real estate world, so #1, congrats big time, and #2, thanks for the good real estate mindbend today! All things are in motion at all times in our industry, and you’re just changing horses on the merry-go-around. I am happy for you. Good luck in everything you touch, Kimberly @greenboxhomes

    • says

       @Kimberly Dotseth  Thanks Kimberly! “All things are in motion at all times in our industry, and you’re just changing horses on the merry-go-around.” — I love that! 

  18. says

    You’d look hot in a hoodie. Merely stating.
    And Francy is going to kick some SERIOUS bottom. All due respect to you, my friend, but she’s The Awesome and Thompson’s Realty will thrive in her very capable hands.

  19. TobyBoyce says

    I have always been in your debt for the opportunity to attend Inman New York. But, beyond that free ticket thing, I’ve been a huge admirer of how you do your business and that you like to bark (which a lot of real estate agents do) and even bite when the need arises (which most agents turn and run from).
    Zillow is getting an amazing man and I’m looking forward foward to seeing where you take them in the coming months.

  20. says

    Congrats to you, Jay.  I hope it was substantial – because you are worth it.  Definitely a big pick up for Zillow.
    That being said, I would be lieing if I didn’t say I was a bit disappointed.  I view Zillow very much like JonathanDalton said in his comments:  “A true partner to this industry wouldn’t flood the online space with bogus information that serves only to confuse consumers … and a true partner doesn’t spend the bulk of their time reaching for your wallet.”

    • says

       @Louisville Home Pros I knew some would be disappointed, and that’s OK. Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion — we’re all unique and have different perspectives and beliefs. All I ask is for some time and your openness to see if just maybe I can change that opinion at some point. Stay in touch, I *want* your thoughts on what we can do differently.

  21. SherryBakerBrio says

    Change is constant. People who inspire others make changes. It’s part of what’s inspiring. Congrats to you and Francy — sounds like you both have an interesting road ahead. And congrats to Zillow on picking another of the smart ones. :)

  22. kim_higdon says

    @PhxREguy Woot! Congrats! Sounds like a nice change of pace. In which direction? Who knows!

  23. Steven_Rose says

    @PhxREguy Congratulations! They are lucky to have you! Hope that it turns out to be everything you hope that it is

  24. says

    When you get to a fork in the road, take it!
            – Yogi Berra
    Jay, I hope that this works our for you beyond what your wildest dreams have conjured up (and I hope they seriously money-whipped you).  Good luck, Amigo.

  25. says

    I’ve already sent my thoughts via text, but I have to chime in here (of course).  First, congratulations.  No matter what you choose in life, I’ll always root for you and wish you the best!  Second, good luck to Francy.  Anyone who knows you, knows she’s really in charge and you were merely a pretty face acting as a front man. 😉  Third, nice work Zillow.  I’ve not always been Zillow’s biggest fan, but I will never deny their power in the real estate space.  As someone who will be reaching out to agents, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.  I especially look forward to seeing how you communicate back to them – perhaps there will be some significant exchange of thoughts and ideas.  I know they’ve selected someone who’s not known to beat around the bush, so I think they chose wisely and with the foreknowledge that they’ll hear both sides of the story.Overall, I’ll be very interesting to see how this pans out…for you and for them.  One thing I don’t doubt…you’ll remain a mentor and friend to many of us.And since you have a new position, I think you should suggest a trip to REbarcamp San Antonio in May to kick off your new position – we’ll even take a sponsorship if they’re interested.  (Had to get a plug in there somewhere.) 

    • says

       @rockceptionist Thanks Matt, I always (ALWAYS) appreciate your insights. 
      And you are indeed correct to have no doubt I’ll remain a mentor and friend to many. Some may say, “I’m not befriending the ‘enemy'” but then they weren’t true friends to begin with were they? 
      I am 100% convinced that my voice will be heard at Zillow. That’s a large part of why they hired me. They aren’t stupid people, at all. 
      I’d LOVE to go to more REBCs — I think they are perfect venues to reach out to the industry. 

  26. templestark says

    @PhxREguy Sweet. Who else deserved it? Truly an awesome gig. Thanks for the good news.

  27. says

    Jay – You will take Zillow “beyond their wildest dreams!”  It is definitely a great move on their part and I couldn’t be happier for you.  You have always been fair and honest, and in support of what is right – for that you will always be tops on my list!  Hmmmm, has me thinking of spending more money with Zillow now that I know there is a real brain behind the curtain!

    • says

      Thanks so much Patsy! And feel free to spend more money with Zillow 😉  (There are some SERIOUS brains there. Honestly some of the smartest people I’ve ever met.)

  28. DeniseHamlin says

    Yep. That classes as mind blowing Jay. Brad Andersohn joined Zillow a while back and he’s a very smart guy. They must be doing something right to get good guys like you and him on board.
    Good Luck to you. And good luck to Francy too. Looks like you’re both embarking on one pretty exciting journey. 

  29. laniar says

    Congratulations from the team at AGBeat, couldn’t think of a more deserving guy of a great opportunity! 

  30. Mauibilly says

    Wow…Stunner, but a great move for you and even better for Zillow.  It will be an adventure!

  31. says

    I am shocked but super excited for you!! Zillow doesn’t know how lucky they are to get you. Sounds like a very exciting adventure. I bet you feel like a kid again.

    • says

      I *do* feel like a kid again Carmen! I told someone I feel like a five year old on Christmas Eve. Excited, lots of anticipation, and not a whole lot of sleep…

  32. dwillis1540 says

    I think this is fantastic!. How many employees of Zillow or any other “real estate company” have ever sold a house?

    • says

       @dwillis1540 Thank ya! I know at least one Zillow employee that has/had a real estate license, there could be others. But your point is valid, and I think they see the need to get a better understanding of the agent/broker side of the industry. 

  33. KarenKeimRice says

    My only complaint with Zillow is their horrible inaccurate Zestimates telling buyers that my seller’s million dollar property is really only worth about $450,000…or that my $550,000 property has a Zestimate of $225,000.  Not. Cool.  I hate that. Otherwise, I have no complaint with Zillow (as I have no real complaint with Trulia) beyond the fact that they take my stuff to make money off it without compensating me (my listings) like everyone else in real estate, including our franchises….but I digress. Good luck with your position and see if you can do something about those Zestimates, OK?

  34. mayaREguru says

    What an amazing opportunity for you and Zillow. I am thrilled for you Jay. I had quietly heard of this opportunity and thought it was a wonderful decision of Zillow to create such a position. 
    It is time for the industry vendors to recognize the value of real estate brokers and agents as consultants, or employees. Unless you have worn the hat you really can’t have any idea what it i like.
    Jay, you are one of the nicest people I know. Really genuine and passionate about your beliefs and our industry. They really could not have picked a better guy.
    And having lived in the Seattle area myself, it’s my favorite City, the most beautiful of all the Cities I haver seen. You will enjoy it immensely. Be sure to take the Ferry to Victoria for afternoon high tea. =)
    Mazel Tov! Could not have happened to a better person!

    • says

       @mayaREguru Thanks Maya, I appreciate your kind words! I’m not a tea drinker but I still see a ferry ride to Victoria in the near future!

  35. Bob says

    Congratulations, Jay.  Another “super talent” taken from Maricopa County (AZ) to Seattle, and a brilliant move for Zillow.  Looks like they’re pretty serious about “change”.  Show them the best ways to benefit the real estate professional on the street!  Cheers…Bob

  36. DavidWyrschJr says

    WOW! Congrats Jay! That’s sounds like an amazing opportunity! Best of luck to your and your wife!

    I know that you are still going to be in the industry, however from someone who is just getting into a leadership position on the local level, I think your voice will be missed from that point of view. Since your were yelled at at NAR, there may be some who don’t agree, but in the short period of time that I have interacted with you, that’s my humble opinion.

    Congrats and I wish you much success! Cheers!

    • says

       @DavidWyrschJr Well thanks David. I’ll miss being on association committees, but I think there are still ways to get my opinions to the folks in those seats. 

  37. moellering says

    1) Please turn that terrible company around!  I agree with you regarding the potential & purpose of Zillow; I just think the company & operation is terrible.  Perhaps you are going there to make a difference!  I hope that’s the real reason it hired you… you are going to need a lot of focus groups…
    2) What would you suggest we do about broker licensing?  Some states let you be an independent broker from day 1.  If it were up to me, one would need an undergraduate (or at least an associates) degree with lots of credits in certain subjects (communications, marketing, real estate, accounting, etc.) to be an agent and a master’s (at least 1-year full time) to be a broker.  It should be almost as difficult to sell real estate (especially at the broker level) as it is to practice law.  But this would also imply a lot more ethics… 
    I think you have fairly criticized real-estate education in general, so perhaps Brewer should appoint you to be commish of ADRE.  But she doesn’t appoint people smarter than herself, which is almost everyone, so you are way too qualified I’m afraid.
    In any case, congrats!  Another chapter!

    • says

       @moellering It’s gong to be very interesting work, and I’m always open to hearing what agents/brokers have to say. You’re the “feet on the street” and will be listened to.
      As for broker licensing and education, it’s always been a subject near and dear to me. I’m mixed on the college education aspect of it. I’ve known some *brilliant* agents that never spent a second in a college class and I’ve know agents that hold graduate degrees that were, to be blunt, worthless. But it is too easy to get a license. It’s a subject that needs a LOT of discussion, debate, and change in my opinion.

  38. jeffreydouglass says

    Jay, First let me say they could not get a better guy to help them clean up some of the big issues they have.  
    Second you have a big job ahead of you!  Congratulations, it sounds like it will be a challenging opportunity and living the urban lifestyle is great!
    I had wondered why you’ve been so silent lately regarding some of the conversations on-line and my series of articles on some of the gaming being done by agents on Zillow and Trulia.  I found one local San Diego agent that 134 listings on Zillow, and not on in his name on Sandicor MLS.  While Zillow and Trulia should not have to police unethical agents, I truly believe they should take steps to make that less likely to happen.  Of course the other side of the coin is the membership and the lack of desire for anyone to make local complaints and the total ignorance of some of the rules and regulations that keep our industry in check.
    Seems to me the biggest problem is agent load, not syndication so I hope you can bring that conversation back – I have always been a fan of having competition in the real estate marketing space and both Zillow and Trulia have pioneered some pretty awesome mobile and desktop tools.  Realtor.com has done a pretty good job too and is certainly much more industry friendly with no FISBO and misleading possible foreclosure leads.
    Please tell me that you’ll be addressing these issues, as Brain at 1000 watt said, it is better for all of us to get along, than to start an all out war and let the “lets return to the MLS books” cries of the clueless to tame the internet and regain control as the gatekeepers of the data.
    Rock on my friend, please let me know if there is anything I can do or help you with.

    • says

       @jeffreydouglass Thanks Jeffrey. I’ve read your articles, as always they are thought-provoking. Appreciate your comments here and elsewhere and I’m sure we’ll be chatting more. Your thoughts are shared by many.

      • jeffreydouglass says

        @Jay Thompson I’m not sure why Zillow has become the lightning rod in this debate as Trulia is even less accurate and more misleading.  Zillow has done some amazing things and it’s my belief it would not take that long to weed out the worst offenders that are gaming the system – all systems have inaccurracy and many of them stem from the source, the MLS.
        What I am really concerned about is the preying on distressed homeowners with the realtytrac and foreclosure.com offerings that may or may never reach the market.  Publishing these details on a open public site leads to lots of misunderstanding and pestering of folks in really bad places. Secondly the wildly inaccurate active inventory counts, and third the ability of the agent or broker to hijack listings to appears to have many, when in fact, they have few.
        Clean that up and I will be a fan, my true hope is Zillow is interested in doing this rather than some darker agenda like selling accuracy and position to those that pay dearly for it, or a full on national MLS.

  39. rick2 says

    Congrats Jay!!!!!!! Sounds like a great opportunity for you and no doubt you will straighten them out.

  40. cederrich says

    Congratulations, I think this is exciting news and I look forward to seeing the positive effect you will have on Zillow. First Brad A, now Jay T, who’s next?

  41. JamieGeiger says

    What I know about you and your family and your love for Francy-this is something you are doing for your family and to share your passion for tech stuff and real estate.  Zillow is very lucky to have an amazing person, a very smart man joining their team. All the best to you Jay. 

  42. AgentSteph says

    Wow, that amazing news for you and your family. How exciting!! I hope we still get to see gritty and brave blog talk for you. Maybe now you’ll have even more time to write??

    • says

       @AgentSteph There’s always time to write Steph… If I have to give up eating, sleeping and bathing, I’ll write. (well, giving up bathing is probably a bad idea…)

  43. says

    Congrats Jay!  We need more people in this industry like you to keep probing and asking the questions that no one else wants to.  PS – Luv the Mark Twain quote. 

  44. says

    Jay, I believe this is a very good move for you and our industry.  We all need super smart, thoughtful and respected people just like you to help move us forward.  Life is about making choices.  Thanks for making this one and following your passion.  All the best to you.

  45. capecodcathy says

    Best of Luck to you, JayZ!  Zillow may not have a lot of credibility within the profession, but with you on board, that is more likely to change.  Good Luck to Francy, as well!

  46. hardwater says

    Wow. Zillow is really loading their basket with talent. Are they the next Microsoft? Google? Anyways, congrats Jay.

  47. says

    well zillows gain is certainly a blogsphear’s loss. as happy as I am for you and zillow, I am equally sad for all of us who blog with our hearts to have lost a leader such as you. I know you hope to keep blogging at a similar pace, but there is just no way you can do that and be true to your new commitment.

    Call me “conflicted”, but certainly happy for you and proud of Zillow


  48. says

    I wish you all the best Jay, but now the lovely Francy is sleeping with the enemy 😉 No offense, but I do not believe that Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com treat the Realtor work product with respect. They are simply internet advertising companies.

      • says

         @Jay Thompson Grant, aren’t we all just simply internet advertising companies? Isn’t that how business works? I don’t mean to sound cynical, but it’s provide info (in this case re data)… corral listings… serve clients with info. Zillow and the likes manage steps 1 and 2, and then offers agents tan opportunity to advertise in order to earn the opportunity to get involved in step 3.

        • says

           @Erik Cabral But it is step 3 that sets us apart. The Zillows of the world will never be anything more to people than advertisers, but a good realtor can be a trusted friend. 

  49. Lindafederer says

    @realbird Thanks for that update. ARMLS director resigned in Feb. Hope they love rain.

  50. says

    That is interesting.  I myself think its funny that Zillow takes out listings and then charges us to be on our own listings.  Smart business plan for Zillow.

    • BradAndersohn says

       @MattPernice – the real truth is: Zillow doesn’t take out listings and then charge you to be on your own listings.  Zillow provides a free service for you (or anyone) to appear on all your own listings.  I know it’s not intentional Matt, but It’s comments like yours that tend to confuse people. Maybe yo’re thinking of another site or platform?Welcome aboard Jay, you can see already where and why we need you buddy! :-)

      • says

        @BradAndersohn Interesting point Brad. At least the listing agent get some love on Zillow, without paying a dime. Local IDX sites credit the listing broker and agent in tiny letters at the bottom if the listing. Just saying, not that I’m in bed with Zillow, but I do like thoughtful discussions.

      • says

         @BradAndersohn  @MattPernice
         Riddle me this Brad: if you were so concerned about the true listing agent being featured on their listings, why do you sell advertising to competing agents on that same page? What fiduciary responsibility do you have to the agents or their clients?

        • says

           @GrantHammond   I read some content on Grant’s website before commenting here. Grant wrote a well thought out ‘open-letter’ to Zillow. Worth reading as it’s a new and different perspective. Grant personally though, Zillow is an advertising platform, it works for some – and for some it doesn’t. Use it or don’t use it. I mean, does it deserve all the attention we give it? – I don’t know. It’s just one piece of the pie. It’s hard for me to move off the fence to one side or the other. But really who cares if the listing agent is displayed? Zillow is not an MLS, its a product, a real estate search product that a lot of people like to use. Zillow offers advertising to agents who want a piece of their search traffic. Whats the big deal? After reading some of your content I was impressed and can tell that you are well versed in real estate industry news and and are well connected and respected in Nashville. I am sure you deserve this. Having said all that – it is unclear how I am to search the MLS on your site. Anyway, I’m impressed with your position and for sticking to your guns. I’m sure Jay expected some debate to happen here after posting this…

        • BradAndersohn says

          @GrantHammond – the buyers agent list is available for agents to advertise in their perspective zip codes giving buyers the choice to choose an agent that is willing and able and wants to work with them. The listing agent is featured still at the top as long as they have setup a free profile on the site. Premier Agents are the only ones that show up on their own listings, there’s plenty of details regarding this on our site. I’d like to point you in that direction if you’re interested? If you need any assistance, feel free to contact me anytime, I’d be happy to show and share how it all works. :-)

        • says

           @BradAndersohn You cannot possibly be referring to the “Listing provided by” section that is literally 1 mile down the page, are you? That section could not be more disingenuous if it tried.

        • says

           @GrantHammond  @BradAndersohn Grant – No, Brad is talking about “claiming a listing”. Please see this listing for an example:
          See my face over there on the right side of the page? At the top of the list under “Contact a Buyer’s Agent?” I’m there because I “claimed” that listing. All I needed was a free account on Zillow. The agents under me paid for that placement.

        • BradAndersohn says

          @GrantHammond – It’s easy Grant, just call 707.646.1876, and as I said above, I’d be happy to help you out. Let’s leave Jay’s career announcement to be just that and not a tutorial, plus I know you’ll have other questions when we chat. :)

        • says

           @Jay Thompson Jay, I’ve never understood Zillow…only when clients of mine say “check this one out for me”  and I do…and it’s sold a year ago…..and I ask where they found it and they say “on zillow?”…now maybe it’s my old timers…MAYBE…it wasn’t zillow but Trulia…but getting back to your point…..when I look at that listing…on the top right it shows your face and name and say to the right “listing agent” is that your listing?

        • says

           @BradAndersohn  @GrantHammond @Brad…I think I’ll be calling you…I assume you also work for Zillow?  Are you also based in Seattle?  If I flew up to Seattle could we meet in person? If I offfered to buy you lunch?

        • says

           @Clary Clary – it’s one of our brokerage’s listings. And as soon as my agent that has listed it sets up their Zillow profile, they can claim if for themselves. 

  51. Gabe Sanders says

    Jay, I wish you good luck.  I have always had mixed feelings about Zillow, but they have been hiring some very talented people of late, so I will hope that all goes well for the both of you.

  52. drubloomfield says

    Wow, Jay!  I’ve been mostly offline this week, and thought I should check in to see what’s going on. And of course, your big move is the first thing to pop up.  Congratulations! This will be a great opportunity for you and all the folks that you get to reach out and touch.  Winners all around.

  53. Anonymous Agent says

    Hi Jay – Congrats on the new position. 
    I have a curve ball for you.  Why is it that every other legitimate website on the internet properly cites the source of syndicated (non original) content but the RE verticals do not?  When the Wall Street Journal publishes a piece that was originally published elsewhere they provide a standard citation link back to the original source.  Not only because this is standard IP best practices…but because it provides a mechanism that search engines can crawl to determine where the original source of that content is published.  By doing so, the Wall Street Journal knows they are not going to rank on Google for that article – the original source is.  This allows them to provide valuable content to WSJ readers while not screwing over the website that originally created the content.   Google and the other search engines want to rank the original content’s source…not copied content.  If the Re verticals would provide a proper link back to the listing source’s website then you could claim their business model wasn’t intentionally malicious. However, this is not the case.  Far from it…
    Here comes the “dirty little secret” part…Zillow claims to give proper credit to the RE agent that posted the listing.  In fact, they often claim to be the only vertical that provides an “SEO friendly” link back.  Really?  Visit any listing page on Zillow.com and hit “view source” before scrolling down the page.  The agent’s contact information and link is buried behind java script that only loads when a (human) user scrolls down the page.  Why go through all that trouble to only load the agent’s information when a user scrolls down?  Because by doing so Google’s bot (their ranking algorithm) never sees the link , the agent’s name, or anything else to suggest this isn’t Zillow’s own content.  Zillow is intentionally telling the search engines that the listing is their own content, original to their site, while at the same time telling brokers that they have provided a proper source citation.  In actuality they’ve done just about everything possible to bury the source citation behind code that ensures Google never sees it.  Tricky, tricky. 
    Wow.  Now that’s something I would think brokers would want to know.  That Zillow has gone out of their way to ensure they rank on Google for a broker’s own listing.  Specifically trying to ensure that the broker’s listing is not cited as the original source…while telling the real estate community the complete opposite.  Talk to any SEO expert…any of them…have them verify everything I’ve stated above as fact.  They will.
    Why not provide a simple / standard link back to the source…just like the Wall Street Journal and every other legitimate publisher of syndicated content online?  Because by doing so Zillow would be telling Google that almost all of its content was originally published elsewhere…and their rankings would plummet.  Why would their rankings plummet?  Because Google would be ranking the agent’s website for listing searches instead of Zillow’s.  This is actually what Google would prefer to do…but Zillow makes it almost impossible.
    It’s true that agents decide whether or not to post on Zillow.  I know that will be the argument.  With that said, I’m very confident far less agents would advertise on Zillow if they realized that by doing so they are essentially creating enormous amounts of duplicate content that will compete with their own website and that Zillow will do everything possible to claim that content as their own…and by doing so ensure the agent’s site never ranks for their own content.
    I doubt this ever gets published…but if not, I’ll be pointing out that it was moderated out when I post it elsewhere.
    Have fun trying to get the IT department over at Zillow to explain this one!
    Sincerely, Anonymous Agent

  54. says

    Best Wishes Jay! I’m not surprised a bit. You are a leading edge kind of guy and you need new and different challenges to stay there. I’m looking forward to hearing your new insights and the lessons you are sure to post. I am certain we will all benefit from your new adventure. Break a leg!

  55. larrywbrewer says

    Jay – I admire your courage, not many people would do this. As far as realtors hating Zillow. I think most just hate competition, and they see Zillow as one of the 800 lb gorilla’s knocking them off the first page of what ever google search page that they want to be on. Competition is what makes this country great, and any place where you see a lack of competition is where you find lazy wasteful people.  Real estate is not that place.

  56. says

    I have been a follower of yours for several years and have added what I hope were worthwhile comments to your blog.  I also realize that you have been a supporter of Zillow along the way.  Although this is probably a good opportunity for you personally, I can’t help but think the leader of a strong, independent company has gone to the dark side.  My view of Zillow has nothing to do with being against competition, but not all competition adds value – and I continue to not see the value proposition offered to the industry from Zillow.  Sure they have smart people there – smart people are everywhere.  Just because they continue to tells us they are good does not make it so.  Perhaps you can provide change, but if I am being perfectly honest I can’t really wish you”Good Luck”, because Zillow’s success is not really in my best interest, at least as it is currently configured.

  57. says

    Really, I mean REALLY!
    Let me tell you the experiance I had with Zillow.We advertize on their website under several zib codes/ areas in Baltimroe, MD. As time passed we got several raw leads from their website. As with all internet leads some are just looking, other are serious and some are already working with a Baltimore Realtor – no problem. 7 out of 10 leads we got came from properties that either were under contract for over 15 days or have been sold. In several cases these homes were sold over 12 months ago. Furthermore, the Zillow values in Baltimore are just pure wrong. Why can’t you would with a reputable on-line real estate farm like Redfin if you want a new challenge!?!?!?

  58. JimGatos says

    All I gotta say is the moment I hear you’re now working for ActiveRain is the moment I REALLY will know you’ve gone to “the dark side”..LOL..

  59. says

    Congratulations, but you are completely nuts Jay.  
    I hope you’ll still be happy with your dedision on a cold, rainy night in November while you are huddled in front of a uv light in your Seattle apartment suffering from a mild case of seasonal affective disorder.  :)
    Zillow could certainly use the help, my experience advertising with them sucked.  I think I had 3 different sales reps assigned to me in a couple of months.  Leads were few, rotating agent crap is annoying, very little bang for my buck.  And yet agents still sign up for waiting lists to be on there.
    I wish you success up here.

  60. says

    Hope you can change the world, or at least the world according to Zillow. You have some big competition from that other place, Trulia. Get them to make some big changes like Follow Links on everything, promotion of agents websites, how about a best website or blog contest. Hey, maybe I should get a job there too and turn over my brokerage to other hands.

  61. acummings says

    All the very best to you @Jay Thompson  – will be exciting to see how things evolve with your new position!  Congrats!

  62. jeffreydouglass says

    Jay Thompson, figured I would give you a few weeks to settle in at Zillow, would love to do a Google Hangout with you soon to drag some of the controversy out into the daylight and see your perspective.  Are you up for that?

  63. Molly says

    First, I’d like to say congratulations on your position with zillow, Jay! That’s an awesome opportunity. I will tell you secondly, that I work in <a href=”http://www.ethicalseoconsulting.com/”>Denver SEO</a> and blogging on zillow is valuable to your online rankings, and there’s nothing bad about it. I am representing a <a href=”http://calldenverhome.com/”>Denver Housing</a> real estate agent, and I use zillow constantly to create blog posts about real estate news in the area. I’m not sure why there’s bad publicity surrounding zillow, but you should be happy for yourself, Jay! nice post, I love your writing style, by the way. Very personal :)

  64. Marcie Geffner says

    Definitely mind-blowing, my brains are scattered all over my office at this astonishing news. Wishing you the best of luck and congratulations, Jay. It’s great to see someone taking a risk and going off in a new direction!

  65. says

    I think this is an amazing move! We’re just starting our own brokerage in Dallas, Texas (see http://www.trinityrealestategroup.com) and we’ve been living in the suburban sprawl for so long now that we desperately seek the sanctuary of ten acres in the country! I can understand, however, the inexorable pull of passion with respect to a man’s work, and so I for one wish you God speed, and much success!
    I would like to understand the Zillow aspect of this passion-filled diversion however, because I just don’t get that part. Call me nuts, but when we got into real estate, we always focussed on detaching ourselves from the feed tray of others as quickly as we could. To see a successful broker head in the opposite direction is  fascinating.
    All the very best!
    Marcus River Armstrong
    Trinity Real Estate Group (or TREG as I like to call it!)

  66. says

    Jay – it’s taken me this long to get my arms around it.  You know I’m always going to wish you the best, and you’ve got all my support.  And I know you well enough to think this isn’t a big paycheck grab – you’re really, honestly excited for the opportunity to play in this playground.  But I still don’t fully understand it, and I still can’t fully believe it!
    We’ll have to get together offline to talk more…

  67. says

    It’s smart  for Zillow to buy good will in the industry by hiring influential people. I like a lot about Zillow, but ultimately, brokers are killing the value of their own brands and hurting themselves by giving their data to third party listing aggregation websites such as Zillow.
    I mentioned a great post about this years ago
    But, for you and your family, best of luck to you, Jay- you’ve always been a good guy!


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