With only 18 shopping days left until the bankrupting holiday of joy and festivities, there is little time to pause and reflect on the outgoing year. However, since I abhor the thought of shopping, and will most likely wait, once again, until the very last minute to engage in such an activity, I have plenty of reflecting time. It is my excuse. I think it’s a pretty good one as well; “I’m sorry, as much as I would love to go shopping with you, I can’t. I’m busy reflecting.”

This year has brought several great experiences, gifts, opportunities, and connections both individually as well as globally. There are some things, however, that I will not be bringing with me into 2020; specifically, Zillow/Trulia, the online real estate database conglomerate that depends on algorithms to provide wildly inaccurate “zestimates” of homes in a market they know nothing about.

Zillow/Trulia (Trulia was purchased in 2015 by Zillow) initially generated most of their revenue through selling advertising to real estate agents. An agent can purchase a certain number of “impressions” in specific ZIP codes on the Zillow website. They then become “Premier” agents and their name and contact information appear beside listings in the ZIP codes they have paid exorbitant amounts of money in which to advertise. Essentially, we pay for leads. I’m not ashamed to admit that this is one of the ways I generate leads. If I continue to do so, however, I will be ashamed to admit it. Now that I have “reflected,” I can no longer participate.

“Premier Agents” have made Zillow a success. Now that we have provided them with the working capital, they have decided to compete with us, while at the same time, taking our money. Therefore, it was nothing short of a Christmas miracle when a news story came across my desk this morning reporting a recent lawsuit that is attempting to gain class action status against Trulia, Zillow’s subsidiary.

The lawsuit accuses the Premier Agent advertising program of being deceptive and unfair by advertising agents next to properties in which there is no actual connection. Generally, the Premier Agent is not the listing agent of the property that they are advertised adjacent to, although that is what is clearly implied. In fact, I must clarify with nearly every phone call I receive from that site, that I am happy to show them the property, but I am not the list agent. I then attempt to educate them on the benefits of having their own representation.

Frankly, if this lawsuit can, in fact, gain class action status, then there truly muwwst be a Santa Claus. As it stands, the Zillow group are currently the impish, pesky elves that do not just stay on the shelves but instead, stealthily run amok leaving annoying mayhem and unruly havoc in their wake. Come 2020, I’m no longer feeding these elves.

Happy Holidays!

Jen Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jenkirchh@gmail.com.

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