Seattle-based Zillow [stock Z][/stock] announced it will open an office in Irvine, Calif. this summer and hire up to 100 employees.  And most of the employees will focus on selling Premier Agent subscriptions.

The Premier Agent program launched to varied reviews. While many subscribers are, ostensibly, happy with their increase in traffic, former users aren't as pleased.

The program allows agents to have their picture displayed by listings in their region — even if they are not the listing agent on the property. The seller listed next to the property may actually have no knowledge of the property, and may be entirely out of the know if the unsuspecting Zillow visitor were to call them up. 

In Southern California, where Zillow is looking for market penetration, many agents are lashing out and discontinuing the use of websites such as Zillow. Jim Abbott, president of the Abbott Realty Group and a San Diego Realtor for more than 25 years, is one of those agents. Abbott already pulled his company’s listings from sites like Zillow and Trulia altogether.

“These sites are really nothing more than slick advertising platforms,” he said in the video posted below. “They often use fear and peer pressure to induce agents and brokers to sign costly long term contracts for their lead generation services.” 

It is interesting that Zillow will now be moving into the Southern California space to push its Premier Agent program, which is exactly the type of program Abbott, and dozens of other big name Realtors with similar issues, have with the site in the first place. But, are they the loud minority?

OK, so a few agents are clearly miffed. Fact is, Zillow is still immensely popular and just keeps growing. Zillow completed its initial public offering last July. By this March Zillow’s site and mobile app saw 32 million unique users, representing a year-over-year growth of 67%. So, the company must be doing something right. 

It will be interesting to follow what should now be a growth in Premier Agent subscriptions with this new installation of workers, and the effectiveness of the program will be an interesting one to track. 

jhuseman@housingwire.com
@JessicaHuseman