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What to Do With Bug Ugly Real Estate Sites: Part I

By Phil Butler | July 29, 2011

When you search for a service, you hope, even expect to find the tippy top there is online via Google, Yahoo!, Bing, whatever you use. Adsense, Adwords, black and white hat SEO, these terms mean little to the average consumer. All anyone on the web wants is quality results, easy to use, and fast. And Google delivers 99 percent of the time, but are those top 10 results really the best? Here's where interpretation meets reality.

Traffic and popularity do not always end up being best for everyone. How do you deal with bug ugly corporate websites? Switch to Coldwell Banker? Let's find out.

Zillow, Trulia, Realtor, even Caldwell Banker and many of the others rest their laurels, to a degree, on the "dogma" of popularity. "The Number One Real Estate Company In... You fill in the blanks. Like most corporate glee clubs, real estate organizations hand out awards like soccer moms determined "junior" will be Michael Jordan, skill or not. Inman will soon award a select few their pint of glory at  Real Estate Connect® San Francisco, even Bollywood (well India any way) has jumped on the mutual gratification band wagon - the CNBC AWAAZ -CRISIL-CREDAI REAL ESTATE AWARDS hand out gold for everything from The Best Integrated Suburban Developer to the Best Walk in Closet, or so it seems. But where is the consumer?

Realtor dot com

What's in a name? Well, brand awareness, that's what. Having the best domain means a lot, there's no telling how much had to spend on theirs? One look at their "cookie cutter" website shows for certain they spent a lot less on web design. Either that or their change hit them in the back once Move, Inc squeezed this one out. It's pitiful.

Why should I let Move Inc off the hook digitally, when screwed up sites around the world catch it when they fail? Move can afford anything available, and what you see is what you the consumer gets? 22,000 of you "like" their Facebook pages, even though you had to scroll 23 miles to the bottom of their site to find the buttons.  And the Tweets of thanks to Inman for Connect awards are already chirping inThank you @InmanNews for Most Innovative Real Estate Start-Up Award for SocialBios! #icsf. In depth Realtor dot com analysis, later on, engagement score in the interim: 4 of 10

Realtor dot com

Stunning is not a word to describe's web footprint

Realestate dot com

Again, a mighty big outfit fills the Google search query at position two with mediocrity. Greg Hanson, General Manager of, just has to be one of those corporate types not many ever see, his face (and everyone else's) sure is missing from the clinical pages on their website. I did manage to hunt Greg down at LinkedIn, a nice looking fellow, all the more reason he should be up front for Realestate. As COO of Tree, Greg should switch Realestate dot com with the far cooler Tree site. Facebook? Twitter? SVP of Technology, Kamelia Dianati , should look into social media as a conduit for her company. The company actually has 2000 + fans, God knows how they found FB though? Realestate dot com's initial rating: 3 of 10 (massive resources factored in)

Realestate dot com - Web 1.5 technology, brick and mortar mentality


Google, Apple, Yahoo!, AOL, Zillow? What the hell is a zillow any way? Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink had a brilliant idea, or glowing connections one, when they launched Zillow. The name, while a bit Cat in the Hat, is catchy, and the service has its advantages too. However, beauty, personalization, and adherence to cutting edge web feet prints are not always up to snuff, are they? Zillow is mud ugly, at least for me. The landing looks like some drunk designer's "half hearted" attempt at minimalist design. Sorry, but bazillion dollar companies should offer more.

Zillow does have at least one saving grace (besides visibility that is) - they attract really knowledgeable experts. Anyone wanting to know anything about the industry, can trust Zillow to have data on it - or better yet, resident experts like Brendon DeSimone, put bluntly, the man knows his stuff. I leave off Zillow for now, more to come later on. Watch Bendon's video at bottom, but Zillow's interim rating as a digital company: 4 of 10 (We should expect more)

Zillow looks like a really ugly Google

Zillow looks like a really ugly Google - devoid of anything like aesthetics

End Part I

Tomorrow we will move down the list of top online real estate entities, and even onto page two to find some better choices, maybe. As a preview, RealtyBizNews will briefly cover; Remax, Trulia, and a lesser company on page two called AOL. Stay tuned for how AOL's Laura Goldstein and Co. may need to be your online advisors of choice! As always, we welcome your opinions, thoughts, and comments.

Phil out for now.

Phil Butler is a former engineer, contractor, and telecommunications professional who is editor of several influential online media outlets including part owner of Pamil Visions with wife Mihaela. Phil began his digital ramblings via several of the world’s most noted tech blogs, at the advent of blogging as a form of journalistic license. Phil is currently top interviewer, and journalist at Realty Biz News.
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