Last Monday we attended the Ohio Realtors Convention. I hope you did, too. If not, you should next time.

Here’s why:

  • As a Realtor you are a member of NAR and OAR. These are the organizations that represent your professional interests.
  • You get a chance to listen to world class speakers and even get CE hours for most classes.
  • You may want to get involved in their committees and advocate on behalf of homeowners in the political action committee.

As the convention was at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, we paid a visit the statue of our famous countryman.

This year’s keynote speaker was Leigh Brown. She’s a top-producing Realtor from Charlotte, NC, owns a RE/MAX brokerage, and has become a popular national speaker.

Leigh talked about how agents can defend their business against the likes of Zillow, Trulia, and other online services that threaten our business (I will call them the Zillows for simplicity).

How To Defeat External Threats

The key to defeating online services that take your listing information and pictures and sell it back to you for a high fee is to focus on what they don’t have.

Consumers find a lot of information online. They will hire you if you add value they can’t get from Zillow and other online services.

In order to do that you have to first define yourself as a Realtor.

Why do buyers and sellers hire you?

To find out, invite 5 recent clients for a cup of coffee and ask them why they hired you. Did they feel you are trustworthy, did they like your energy and commitment, were they impressed by your style, or did they simply hire you because you discounted commissions?

I hope it’s not the last. If they hired you because you are cheap, they did not see any value in your services.

What the Zillows Are Missing

The Zillows are great at accumulating public information. That information is already available to everyone, they just do a better job presenting it to the user.

Here’s what they don’t have:

Hyper Local/Lot Specific Information

If a house is located on a river that may be a bonus as it offers desirable water frontage or a negative due to the threat of flooding. A house on a slope may offer a great view or be extremely hard to reach in winter.

How does this information affect the price?

Zillow does not know, you do.

Property Condition

Zillow has the pictures, but you know what’s going on inside the house, as well as in similar houses in the neighborhood.

You know that the carpet that looks great in a professional photo is 10 years old and smells like cat.


Zillow won’t know all the upgrades done to the house, especially the ones that didn’t require a permit.

You know the exact value of upgrades and which ones are just a waste of money.

​Exceptional Customer Service

The Zillows publish information, you explain it to the customer. Buyers and sellers need a trusted adviser who works on their side.

There’s NO customer service on any of the real estate portals. They are simply advertising devices for Realtors who are willing to pay their high fees.

Community Insights

If you want to become the local expert, you should attend City Council and School Board Meetings. At these meetings you get invaluable information that’s critical for your clients. If you speak up at the meetings you will establish yourself as the hometown real estate expert.

The Script

Leigh shared a script she uses when someone calls on her listings:

I am so glad you inquired about my listing at 123 Main Street. Let me tell you what you can’t see in the photos ...”

For more expert tips and strategies be sure to check out: and follow us on Instagram @Agent_Insider