Realtor.com sparks panic among brokers with move towards phone-vetted lead-gen

News Corp, which also owns Realtor.com, acquired Opcity for $210M last year
March 26, 2019 09:01AM

Realtor.com is expanding the Opcity model to more than a dozen markets in the coming weeks. (Credit: Getty Images, iStock, and MPOW)

Brokers across the country are deeply concerned by Realtor.com’s latest lead generation move, after learning that the company plans to replace its own lead generation service with Opcity’s concierge-based model.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns Realtor.com’s parent company Move Inc., acquired Opcity last August for $210 million. While Realtor.com’s lead generation model involves agents vetting and converting their own leads, Opcity verifies the lead first and then collects a referral fee from the agent.

“I think the reality is, there’s a lot of people that are going to be severely impacted or out of business because of this,” Michael Bernier, the president and managing broker of Realty Group LLC told Inman. “There’s a lot of people that are going to drop their business by half or more. There’s a lot of panic about it.”

A spokeperson for Move Inc. says that after initial tests “in several small to mid-size markets,” the company is expanding the Opcity model to more than a dozen markets in the coming weeks.

The specific markets to be included in the expanded test, which “will impact a small percentage of the country and consumer base,” are unclear, but a Minneapolis-based broker told Inman that his market would be affected.

Realtor.com’s move mirrors a similar move by Zillow and StreetEasy last year. In August, StreetEasy announced that a company representative would screen potential buyers first, instead of passing leads directly to agents. This sparked concern among brokers that they would receive fewer leads and have to pay more per lead.

The decision led lead generation firm LG Fairmount to pull out of the Premier Agent program entirely.

“This whole time everyone is worried about Zillow, and Realtor.com is considered an agent partner — now they pull this crap,” Suneet Agarwal, a Sacramento-based broker who gets 75 percent of his business from Realtor.com, told Inman. [Inman] — Kevin Sun