®: We Need You


Steve Berkowitz, left, and Russ Cofano speak to REALTORS® at NAR’s Leadership Summit.® has had its ups and downs this year as it works to reclaim its once-top spot as the go-to site for consumers. While its traffic has grown 18 percent over the past year, the site faces some stiff competition and an evolving industry landscape.

In response, parent company Move Inc. has launched an aggressive “Accuracy Matters” campaign, and senior executives were on hand at the National Association of REALTORS®’ Leadership Summit in Chicago with a message for REALTORS®: Work with us as we move forward.

At the summit, an annual gathering of incoming state and local association presidents and executive staff, Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, and Russ Cofano, the company’s senior vice president of industry relations, implored REALTORS® to get more involved in helping shape the future of®.

“We need your help to look forward and not backward,” Cofano said. “What has happened in the past doesn’t really matter. What matters is what we do from here.

“The one thing we know about this industry is that change is constant. If we’re going to keep moving along that process, we need dialogue with you. We need you to tell us what you need.”

Berkowitz also said that® would be stepping up its efforts to communicate to state and local associations so they can, in turn, communicate its message to members.

“We want every REALTOR® to know what’s true and not true about our site, and we’re looking to you to deliver that message,” Berkowitz said. “We want dialogue, and when things aren’t going right, we need you to tell us and we’ll try and fix them.”

Monday’s session included a Q&A segment. These were some of the topics covered:®’s Top Priorities

  1. Branding: “One of the things we need to do is help consumers understand who you all are before they meet you,” Berkowitz said. “That first cocktail-party conversation doesn’t happen at a cocktail party anymore.” Berkowitz added that® is focused on communicating to consumers the level of professional integrity, training, and development it takes to be a REALTOR®. “If two agents came in the room and laid down business cards, and one had an ‘R’ on it and the other didn’t, we want the consumer to know why they should choose the one with the ‘R’ on it,” he said.
  2. Data: “Big data exists in our business as a thought but not a reality,” Cofano said. “Data is fragmented, and until we find a clearinghouse for all that data in one place, this industry will never be able to reap the rewards of that data.” Berkowitz said he envisions® as that clearinghouse, adding that “if you have a single pipeline with all that data coming through, you can control it more.” He touted the industry standards that® abides by — which its competitors do not — and said the site is focused on making all its content as accurate as possible.
  3. User experience: Berkowitz and Cofano acknowledged that competitor sites have a user-friendly product attracting a lot of eyeballs and said® needs to jazz up its site. “Calling some of our competitors ‘entertainment sites’ is not necessarily derogation to them,” Cofano said. “We have to make [®] more fun.”

Enhanced Listings

At one point, an audience member asked Berkowitz about the fees for enhanced listings.

“® was set up as a for-profit business, and we’re looking for the best way to make money so we can go out and spend money to build a brand,” Berkowitz said. When pressed to explain why advertising on® is more beneficial than advertising on other sites, Berkowitz said that besides adhering to industry standards — such as not accepting FSBO listings or competitors’ ads adjacent to agent listings —® is rolling out new agent profiles that will allow agents and brokers to be more prominent on their pages. The new profiles will allow practitioners to highlight information such as transaction data, team info, and client recommendations.

“We’re helping the consumer to trust you before they meet you,” Berkowitz said.

Agent Search®’s agent-search tool pilot, which ended last year after a brief trial in two markets, is now in a new phase and has a new name: AgentDiscovery. Berkowitz said it’s clear consumers want this deeper information about agents’ experience and service. When the new tool rolls out, agents will have control over how to present their information in context.

Berkowitz acknowledged the feedback to last year’s pilot test of the search tool, then dubbed AgentMatch. “We’re respectful of your wishes. We’ve learned, and we continue to learn” as the company moves toward delivering the kind of rich search experience consumers are demanding, he said.

Graham Wood

Graham Wood is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at

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  1.®’s Top Priorities should start and end with USER EXPERIENCE, branding and data accuracy are mute points if the user is not enjoying their experience and coming back.

  2. Deborah Davis

    I agree, must be user friendly and have data that buyers and seller’s want in their search for a home or to sell a home. They want information about recent sales, pre-foreclosures and details on these properties. The search criteria needs to encompass the categories they want to search on: acreage, school, above grade square footage, etc. We must give this to the user in hopes of countering the likes of Zillow and Trulia.

  3. The Key is the Data that Consumers really want and the ability to determine the accuracy of the data. Also the link to the agent that can help them on the ground in the area that they are looking for and not just passing them off to the highest bidder.

  4. Robin A Schwartz

    I have been a Realtor for 14 years and the last 10 of those have had talking about “branding”. The public just doesn’t get it. We need to figure out what makes the 20-40 somethings LOVE ZILLOW and GET THEM BACK to
    My 29 year old daughter is a new agent and her first stop is Zillow. How do you compete with that?

  5. I no longer use any of the and Move Inc. Agent products and welcome the competition. In my opinion, has somewhat got what they deserve for the way they mis-lead Agents and underserve consumers. I have found in my dealings with and Move Inc. that they oversell their products and under deliver. They are never as successful as they say they are and they sell old products as new ideas so they don’t have to demonstrate past performance as proof of concept. They appear to be too focused on near term profits and have no vision or plan.

    I would like to see be the most successful online marketplace but overall the market is still very much evolving. There’s a saying that the merchants that sold shovels and pans to Gold-miners made a lot more money in the California Gold Rush than did the Gold-miners ever during the gold rush. My view is, Zillow, Trulia, and all the other third-party sites are selling shovels and pans and the business model has yet to support the revenue base they have and certainly will not ever support the revenue they predict they can capture. If it weren’t for the large base of hungry, marginal Agents and the high turnover of Agents these businesses would be dismal failures compared to what they are now. If anything, we need an on-line product that is focused on providing the best value proposition for the consumer and determined to serve the consumer first. Certainly the advantage of real-time data collection, hi-res photos, quality mapping tools and data accuracy can win the war. If we could join hands and provide one system for those that sign up with Agents for our customer portals we would have the best service ever.

    After speaking to many buyers and sellers, it is easy to see there’s tremendous confusion over what each of the sites provides and of which homes are truly available. The lag time of adding and removing homes from the various competing sites creates the illusion that each has a different database of available homes on the market. It maybe true that one has an advantage over the other in either data accuracy or FSBO activity but the reality is the vast majority of buyers and sellers are looking at the same database of homes and details presented in different ways at staggered times.

    Only NAR and have the capability of producing the most accurate view of home sales information possible. I think there is an inherent conflict of interest having Move Inc. as the vendor for and the vendor relationship should be revisited. I would like to see NAR bring in an outside consultant such as McKinsey and Company to analyze the market and competition and help NAR decide the best strategy for its members to maintain and expand its current market position. It’s beyond me how us real estate professionals and NAR as our member driven organization can sit back and give away billions of market capitalization to a competitor like Zillow that is totally dependent upon NAR and its membership for its survival.

    It’s time to get on the ball and lead not follow.

  6. Anita Newton

    I got my license in 1982. At that time the customers did not know which properties were for sale unless they went through a Realtor. They had to come to us for help. We each paid $30+ a month for the privilege to have access to information that wasn’t available anywhere else. I’m still paying every month for something that is now given away for free to the public. How does that make sense?

    SOMEONE IS GETTING PAID FOR ZILLOW AND TRULIA, ETC. TO HAVE ACCESS TO INFORMATION. WHO IS IT? Until recently I thought the local Realtor associations belonged to the members and I was very surprised to find out I was wrong. The local association belongs to someone other than the members. It seems to be a secret as to who actually owns it. This data Zillow and Trulia, etc. is publishing has to be coming from our mls system. But then, who owns the mls? Lets have some transparency as to where this money is going. is acting like they have no control over what is happening when all we have to do is to stop selling the information and only allow our data to be accessed through…that’ll fix the problem. However is privately owned too. Maybe we need to change all that!!!!! My license is not dependent on being a member of the NAR or the state assoc. or the local assoc. Maybe it is time to organize a system that is owned by the members and controlled by the members!!