Tuesday, August 05, 2008
I recently began a job with Zip Realty. This is an internet based real estate company that gets all their leads directly from their website and then farms the leads out to various real estate agents. Agents are not independent contractors, as with traditional real estate companies. Rather, they are actual employees of the company. They are expected to undergo rigorous training, attend all meetings, conferences (both by telephone and internet) as well as mandatory "warm calling" sessions (which to me seem more like detention for real estate agents than anything else). I worked for this company for exactly two weeks. I found their over-bearing need to micro-manage agents at every level completely contrary to why I got into real estate in the first place. I wanted a career where I could control my own destiny and not have it controlled by others, as with traditional jobs. This company boasts that you work from home, but what they don't tell you is how many times you are expected to clock in during office hours (traditional 9-5 even for "warm calling" sessions) and then meet all the expectations for your clients (approximately sixty leads per month, more or less). Yes, they reimburse expenses (at least in my area), but their commission pay out for agents is far lower than traditional real estate agents. If the average income for one of their agents is $2,200 per month, that might actually break down to just about minimum wage given all the hours an agent is expected to put in during office hours, after hours and weekends. The worst part for me though was that I felt as if I had traveled back in time to high school. I hadn't felt this belittled in years. How can anyone actually thrive in an atmosphere where agents were black-listed for not meeting all their clients' expectations? How could we when we were expected to attend to so much coporate bullshit (pardon my language) and still meet the needs of the clients based on the company's expectations. I actually registered as a client with Zip on two separate occasions and both times neither agent contacted me within the required twelve hour period. This is seen as being too lax by company standards, but what I learned as an agent is that most of these leads (more than ninety percent) won't ever lead to a sale for Zip any way so maybe savvy agents have learned to weed out those leads and concentrate on ones that will actually make them some money. All in all, this might be a great experience for newly licensed agents, but seasoned agents would do much better in a traditional agency or, better still, go for a broker's license and open up your own. My final word on Zip is that they better watch the competition very carefully. Both Prudential and Remax are heavily investing in marketing their own websites right now to attract internet buyers and sellers.