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Do you know who is giving you your advice about real estate?

Your Real Estate ExpertOne of the things I love about Activerain is the points system. It gives people a chance to see a direct correlation between their blog and another person’s and how much work they put into it. But, that doesn’t mean that the person with the most points is the most qualified.

Now, let us move over to Trulia, it’s the same thing. You can get points for commenting on questions that are posted there by the public. The problem is that if a question is posted, anyone can answer even if they aren’t real estate professionals, even if they aren’t from the area, and in reality, have no idea what they are talking about in some situations.

At least with Activerain most of the answers you get to questions are dead on as they are from licensed professionals that have been in the business for years. But, with Trulia and Zillow, how do go about stopping people who have no idea what their talking about from answering questions? What if someone takes that person’s advice? Could that person giving the advice be held legally responsible, just like we are, if we give a client bad advice?

Though I like Trulia and Zillow as another way to reach out to help the community, I still worry that some people are out there trying to give bad advice just because they can.

Todd Clark and the Friendly Home Team
Capstone Real Estate
Phone: (503)524-9494
Fax: (503)622-8739

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Todd Clark is a licensed Realtor who specializing in Washington County, Oregon and also works both Clackamas and Multnomah Counties including the cities of Aloha, Beaverton, Canby, Clackamas, Gladstone, Gresham, Happy Valley, Hillsboro, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Sherwood and Tigard.
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Comment balloon 53 commentsRespect Realty LLC • October 21 2010 07:08PM


Great Post, thank you Todd I always learn something from you and your posts...

Posted by Ken's Home Team LLC. | 360.609.0226 | Portland, OR & Vancouver, WA Real Estate Team, - SOLD IS OUR FAVORITE 4 LETTER WORD - (Ken's Home Team LLC.) over 9 years ago

Yes, it is scary. Then there are community forums that exist where advice is often coming from someone who doesn't even live in the town.  It never fails, I'll have a potential buyer tell me, "I heard xxx,"  when I ask them where they heard this they will say, "well, some person on a forum I post to online."

Posted by Cindy Abel, Broker/Owner - Las Vegas Homes and Real Estate (Southern Nevada Realty, LLC) over 9 years ago

It's interesting some of the responders in my area that are top 'experts' due to their points ...but after having done transactions with some of them & how they don't follow through for their clients is scary.  ANyone can put out the shingle 'top dog in real estate' & who is to know on those sites- consumers certainly don't.

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Heresay runs rampant when someone has an audience. I like AR because I get solid, experienced answers from trusted people when I need them. Great point Todd!

Posted by Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!, So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR (Red Rock Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Todd, you are right.  I look at the questions on Trulia and don't answer many of them because it is important to know what I know and know what I don't know and to know the know what I mean

Posted by 'The Diamond Group' 'A Cut Above The Rest', Lubbock Texas Real Estate (The Diamond Group @ Keller Williams) over 9 years ago

Todd, those are great points!  This is why I like Active Rain, I feel that I am sharing and learning with my peers, those other sites, not so much!

Posted by Tony & Darcy Cannon, The C Team (Aubrey and Associates Realty) over 9 years ago

Todd, I like the point systems as well. But I found out today that an agent in my office has NEVER written one blog or commented on a post...she only signs in every day...and has over 14,000 points.   Perhaps this goes for a lot of new members not sure.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty) over 9 years ago

You hit a homerun with this one!

Posted by Kerrie La Guardia, Let it Rain! (ActiveRain, Community Manager) over 9 years ago

I don't answer questions on Trulia or Zillow because it has been my experience that some of the questions are bogus.  Also, I know of someone on one of these sites in particular giving real estate advice (who has zillions of points) and is not a licensed real estate agent/broker.  Kind of scarey.

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 9 years ago

Todd, I recently joined both Zillow and Trulia as just one more way to reach consumers in my area.  I have to agree with you...many of the comments I see are very self serving and, worse, some are just plain bad advice.  I have seen posts from people with lots and lots of points, but their profile doesn't even indicate what they do for a living.  As Pamela says, it would appear they are giving real estate advice without a license.  While I will try them for a while, AR remains where I will hang my hat most of the time.

Posted by Deborah "Dee Dee" Garvin, C2 Financial (C2 Financial) over 9 years ago

It's illegal to impersonate a military officer or a police officer.

Surely it must be an offense of some kind to impersonate a licensed agent.

Posted by Jim Hale, Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website (ACTIONAGENTS.NET) over 9 years ago

I do not contribute to zillow or trulia because I felt people posted bogus questions, get answers from real estate agents and then get on to bashing them or their responses. it is a war zone and I sure as hell do not want to participate in that. Consumers have emailed me directly from AR for advice and I have willingly shared !

Posted by Rama Mehra, TOP 1% REALTOR IN THE TRI-VALLEY (Keller Williams Danville) over 9 years ago

Who beside the community will enforce such a thing. I post often on Zillow and Trulia and I find most people on Zillow at least call out the B.S sometimes its not nice but people are quickly sent back to where ever they came from.  And self promoting is a big community no no.

Posted by Victor T. Gurrola, Diamond Bar Real Estate Professional (Remax Realty 100) over 9 years ago

It's like anything you research on the internet these days. There is so much information, and people with varying opinions, that it makes it hard to decide which is most accurate since it is a bit hard to qualify the source without additional research.

Posted by Tony Cannon, Real Estate - Oceanside Carlsbad (Bressi Realty Carlsbad) over 9 years ago

I know someone who has posted on one of those sites.  Likes to consider himself an expert.  Doesn't' do much business.  What should that tell you?

Posted by Frank Castaldini, Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco (Compass) over 9 years ago

Todd, this is one of the down falls of an open forum. There are other situations where the advice may be good, but doesn't apply outside of their local area. The only thing we can do is weight the value in making an informed decision. 

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 9 years ago


Trulia answers are a lawsuit waiting to happen.


Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 9 years ago

I can't stand when I see questions being answered by others that should say, "ask your real estate agent." I've wondered the same thing about lawsuits on those sites. Never answer if you do not know the answer. It's scary to see people giving advice and they are not licensed.

Posted by Jackie Connelly-Fornuff, "Moving at The Speed of YOU!" (Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Babylon NY) over 9 years ago

Todd, there are some really clueless people on Trulia.  Both asking and giving answers.  A little better on Zillow, but not much.  Good places to get in trouble if you're a gullible consumer.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) over 9 years ago

That is the perfect place to sell snake oil and its miracle uses. .

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 9 years ago

I wrote a post some time back about the advice on on-line networks could possibly get the agents who were answering in trouble.  Not only is the advice off base in some cases but when the person asking the question states "I'm working with an agent" and then agents go on and on with specific advise about a contract they are not a party to with a person who is clearlly represented.  YIKES!

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Todd--I have looked at Trulia and Zillow as a possible forum for giving information and teaching. I no longer particpate in those sites. To me, ActiveRain is genuine. I have a gwoing group of competent professionals, and i know where they live.

I concentrate all my blogging energy on Active Rain. Obviously, you must too!!!

Posted by Elliott S. Topkins, Massachusetts Real Estate and Title Atty (Topkins & over 9 years ago

I have spent more time reading the answers on Trulia and Zillow and there are some scary responses. At AR quality is job one...wait that was Ford Motor Co.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

I love ActiveRain and the ease of getting advise from licensed professionals. 

I have discovered that I can enjoy searching for posts regarding a question that has come up.  This is like being in a room of Realtors and being able to discuss a topic. 

Love it!  

Posted by Barbara Hensley, Homes for Sale in Rockwall County, Texas (RE/MAX Properties) over 9 years ago

Todd - You make a valid point. Hopefully buyers and sellers don't rely on just one online random voice! Hopefully they contact a real estate professional with experience and savvy!


Posted by Betsy Schuman Dodek, (Washington Fine Properties - Washington DC Area Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Right on that questions and answers on some of those sites is not good information alot of the time. AR members are genuine, knowledgable, and if they don't know will reach out to those who may.

Posted by Ellen Dittman, #1 Stop for NE FLA-JAX/OP 904.535.1199 (TEXT OK) r (Watson Realty Corp.) over 9 years ago

A few years ago I left a large office to start my own little real estate company that I felt fit my personality better, the only thing I missed about leaving the large company was the knowledge and experiences of the veteran agents. Active Rain has not only filled that void but allows me to seek out the specific advice I need on a topic and speak directly with those experienced agents in that particular field of interest. The cream of the industry is definitely on the Rain and I have learned so much more than I ever would have in an office, and on my time.

Seeking advice on Trulia or Zillow is like asking a friend to diagnos your chest pain, he may know and then again he may not, I guess it all depends on how serious is your pain before you seek professional help!

Posted by John Marshall - FORE!, Specializing in Golf Course Properties (LoKation Real Estate) over 9 years ago


You are quite right.

On a question posed on Trulia dealing with adverse possession and possessory rights., the best answer (to the public) seemed to be the one that was written most dogmatically. However, the answer was dead wrong and failed to apreciate that the law in different jurisdictions may vary.


Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) over 9 years ago

Todd, real estate is local. I don't answer any questions that are out of my State, and rarely even there, only in my area.

I have sold homes from Trulia, and enjoy it but that is one thing I wish they would program, a pop up window that says, "you are not in this State, are you SURE you want to answer?"

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 9 years ago

That's one on my frustrations with Trulia. Local customs and laws vary state to state so why is a person from the east or west coast answering questions about real estate in Ohio?

Posted by Barb Szabo, CRS, E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes (RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio) over 9 years ago

So true, Todd. Once in a while I'll answer a local question on those sites but prefer to invest my time here in the 'Rain.

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) over 9 years ago

I'm so glad you mentioned this!  There is an agent in Fort Wayne that is climbing in points with the SIMPLEST daily market reports you have ever seen.  Quite comical. 

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 9 years ago

I spend plenty of time on Trulia... and I have seen plenty of answers from those who call themselves Real Estate Pro's, that are not even close to correct. Lots of professionals answer the age-old "what is the standard commission" with "standard is 6%, but it's negotiable".  (Doy!)

There really is no correlation between the amount of time you've spent on Trulia, or Zillow or Active Rain, and your expertise in Real Estate.

A large number of points is merely an indication that someone has spent a great deal of time on that site answering questions.  There's no way to quantify those answers via points.  While I agree that Active Rain tends to be less "argumentative", "better moderated" and has far more Realtors and agents on board, Trulia and Zillow give us a glimpse into what the public perception of our industry is, and I find that extremely valuable.

And it's not a problem for an Illinois agent to answer a question posed in New Jersey, or even California, when that question is: "What do you think of Open Houses?"... "What is the standard commission in _______?"... "Does staging help?"... "Should I try FSBO?"... Any agent/Realtor can answer those authoritatively.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Jameson Sotheby's International Realty) over 9 years ago

Hmmmm, interesting post today for sure.   AR is the place to be!!


Patricia /Seacoast NH & ME

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) over 9 years ago

Valid points there Todd!  I have read through some of the answers on Trulia and Zillow and have often wondered what the heck? I won't comment on a question unless I feel very comfortable that I can contribute in a worthwhile manner. For the most part, I have found that the AR posts are true to form and I am grateful for the generous hearts.  

Posted by Christine Pappas - REALTOR®, eXp Realty - Because Experience Matters (eXp Realty) over 9 years ago

Oh so you are behind on your payments?  THE BEST solution for you would be to short sale.  Call me at your earliest convenience so we can get started on your way to financial freedom!


I have found good blogging fodder over there from time to time.

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) over 9 years ago

I recently worked with an out-of-state buyer.  She made an offer on a house and they countered.  I knew she wasn't going to go up to that price and asked if she would like to counter.  She said she had spoken to a friend from the area about it and was advised to stand firm on her offer. 

First, I asked does this friend have a real estate license and access to recent sales data?  No.  Then, I asked, just curious, what part of Nashville does your friend live in?  Oh, she moved out-of-the country several years ago. 

Hmm, why would this buyer want to take advice from someone that knew nothing about real estate and didn't even live here anymore?  Because the friend said what the buyer wanted to hear.  Unfortunately, too many buyers and sellers take the advice of people who know nothing about buying and selling a home.  Especially, in this current market.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 9 years ago

I love the people that gain points by posting things like, "This is great information".  Point Snatchers is what I call them, and then they try to leverage how many points they have on here.  Couldn't agree more.  


My other favorite is the people who plagiarize something they have read in a book to try to seem like an expert.

Posted by James McGary (Agents Set Free, Inc) over 9 years ago

I agree with Alan. I have seen bad advice on AR as well.  We are not excluded from that club. The difference is that since AR doesn't have a lot of consumer participation we don't get the pick me behavior that occurs on other sites as much.

Posted by Melina Tomson, Principal Broker/Owner, M.S. (Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon) over 9 years ago

I don't spend as much time on Trulia or Zillow as I do on AR. I don't answer a question unless I KNOW the answer, because I don't want to look ridiculous in front of THAT many people.  :=)  

Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) over 9 years ago

I agree Todd. I am signed up for one of the alerts on Zillow and when questions come up from home buyers I am notified via email. Often times I will go to Zillow and see if there is something to add that can be helpful to a potential buyer or seller. Unfortunately, as you said, there are people adding comments that often times can be so off base! There is also seems to be quite the competition from agents in the responses that I do not feel it is a supportive environment.

AR is here to help. We all help each other and it (most of the time) is quite friendly and a great resource for consumers and professionals alike! I like to hang out with like minded people.

Posted by Stephanie Reynolds, East County San Diego Homes 619-838-4408 (Integrity First Financial Group, Inc. ) over 9 years ago

My friend calls it the "Wikipedia" of real estate. It's scary when I read things that just aren't true. Trust but verify....hmmmm, where have I heard that before?

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) over 9 years ago

I think that there is always a concern that the person you 'meet' online may not be the most suited for the job or the most experienced. Many folks talk the talk, but can they walk the walk?

Posted by Melissa Zavala, Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County (Broadpoint Properties) over 9 years ago

Hi Todd,  I've noticed the same thing.  Usually the responder is from out of the area and may not know local laws !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 9 years ago


Very valid concern, it's like Uncle George giving out real estate advice and he sells computers.  (Not that he can't be good, but how do you know?)

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) over 9 years ago

Hi Todd,

Great post!  I'm always concerned about agents answering certain questions that come from other states, where that agent isn't licensed in nor doesn't know the local customs and laws.

It's not very smart to comment on someone else's situation in another state when you've put it in writing where it could be used against you in the future.  Be careful what you reply to!

Posted by Dan Weis, Cincy Real Estate Advisor (Comey & Shepherd Realtors) over 9 years ago

I don't know whether to laugh or scream when unlicensed individuals or those who do very little business give real estate advice.  Just because you sold a few of your own homes, doesn't make you a real estate expert regarding current market conditions, new contracts and laws, or tricks of the trade. Those who follow advise from a novice often find themselves regretting it in the end.

Posted by Allan Sanchez, Rocklin & Roseville, Short Sale Agent (Roseville CA & Rocklin CA Short Sale Agent) over 9 years ago

Trulia is a great source of leads but the fact that my answer can be ursurped by someone 2000 miles away is really annoying.  I've had specific questions about my area posted, I'll respond (as will a handful of other local agents) and yet some nobody from out of state will answer with something studid like "Well, it looks like your area is overpriced" or something equally insane.

Why this is important is that Trulia posts the most recent answers first so whoever was the last answer, not matter how wrong, will show up.

The only way to get around this is to become a VIP AND sponsor.  Just being a VIP doesn't get your name on all the pages.

OK, I'm off my soapbox now...

Posted by Bryan Robertson over 9 years ago

Great post and lots of cool opinions. This is why I like ActiveRain. It's pointless for people to post opinions in areas where they are not doing business or are not even in the real estate business. I guess there are some general questions that could be answered nationwide, but it's still a stretch and annoying as Bryan mentioned.

About the points on Trulia/Zillow/Activerain. Totally agree with Alan May above. I think quality vs quantity makes all the difference. It's not about being the first, or the last to answer, it's about directly answering what is being asked and responding in a truly helpful way.

Posted by Nick Tukmanian (RealWorks Residential) over 9 years ago

Zillow is so innacurate its not even funny, terrible business model, as no one is checking valuations for accuracy!

Posted by Ryan Case, 877-828-0710 (SCA Real Estate) over 9 years ago

I have to say I agree.   I almost never comment on Zillow or Trulia as it seems everyone out there is saying "look at me, look at me, I am the best"  

I have seen really bad responses and have clarified a few points about septic systems etc advising the buyer to seek a local Realtor due to the laws in that area.  I have never gained a customer from my good responses on Trulia so I spent my time where I feel it is best served.

Posted by Faye Y. Taylor, Homes for Sale Floresville, La Vernia & San Antoni (StepStone Realty, LLC ) over 9 years ago

I think these sites would be better off by only allowing members to post responses to these questions as I'm afraid someone is going to take this horrible advice and lose everything.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) over 9 years ago

The difference between AR and Zillow or Trulia - AR is AR.

And alphabetically, none of them can beat AR!

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 9 years ago

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