Real estate agents who use Zillow, an online real estate marketplace, to bring in buyers and to advertise their listings, report that their experience leaves their businesses open to potential fraudsters.
One way Zillow brings in revenue is by selling impressions to real estate agents. While potential homebuyers or sellers are browsing Zillow’s website, the name of the real estate agent appears on the side of the page so that consumers can contact them. Real estate agents can pay for all or part of a zip code, so that their ad appears next to buyers searching for homes in that area.
The potential buyer can contact the agent via that Zillow ad.
The problem, however, which some real estate agents complain about, is that many of the leads gained from Zillow are nothing more than spam.
“Zillow’s clients are the Realtors that buy the leads,” a Realtor group leader from Ebby Halliday told HousingWire. “We get the clients and list the homes. Our MLS gives them the data, only to have Zillow charge us for this lead generation!”
In fact, the Realtor, a real estate agent who belongs to real estate's largest trade group, went on to talk about emails the group gets with fake buyers and fake listings.
According to this Realtor, twice this year someone on Zillow will pirate a true listing for sale and then change it to a lease to scam people out of their deposits.
Do you get scams instead of leads from Zillow? Or is the service second to none? Let us know in the message boards below.
As it turns out, this Realtor isn’t alone; many Realtors are running into the same problem.
One user, blackberryuser, recently posted this on Reddit:
I got this message from a Zillow lead this morning, what is this! The equivalent of the Ghana lottery scam? Can someone explain this scam?
I need your assistance to make property purchase and if you agree to assist me, 20% of my total sum total which is 1,400,000 shall be given to you as appreciation for your assistance but I shall not be present for viewing nor paper signing in person that is why I have to be transparent with you knowing it will not be an easy task to complete the property purchase in my absence.
I hope you do not disclose our communication with anyone however; if you call me names or judge me wrongly after reading this email I shall understand and take it that, you are not in my position to understand the level of my strive to do things right working at a place where everyone above you who needs you have hands in a system you are trying to change.
I am william deputy inspector Ghana Customs Service currently on training exercise outside my country, Our division makes a lot from bribery in clearance of importation but, can not invest or use the money in my country due to the level of our pay grade thats why i decided buy properties with what i have gathered over 4 years. Using my position under special arrangement i was able to bring in my money so if you can handle the purchase without my presence, kindly send me your private number for more details on how i shall get to money to you from a location near you.
The responses only further proved that this is a common experience with Zillow. Take this response from fellow Reddit user sweetpickle:
A Zillow spokesperson responded to HousingWire's request for comment and said the company was looking into the issue.
HousingWire will write another article updating Zillow's response or adding any new developments.