This is the second post in as many days about the things we NEED to do in real estate, given the state of affairs. Please know that we CAN take back our reputations and our professional status from those who want to destroy us!

A Disruptor comes along when complacency sets in--There is an obvious missing link in the eyes of the Disruptor and that is the clue that He watches for in an industry that is ripe for the Disruption that takes place...nothing is the same after that.

To understand the impact of the Disruption that has taken place in real estate, one must take a look at marketing...That is where the biggest clue can be found for the past 10 years.

Agents blame the weakness of print ads on the downtrend in newspapers. Yet, where did the downturn in news print come from? If you guessed the reading public you would be right on the mark! The same thing with the downturn of advertising and marketing results...

The buying public has literally turned their back on the whole idea of picking up a magazine or a newspaper. Their reading is now done on the Internet and they could care less what happens in the wake of that change of habit. That begets the loss of the one certain form of marketing: the splashy ad designed to appeal to the senses, to entice the person with money to part with it!

All the big money spent on print advertising in the past has gone nowhere! Agents have stopped spending their hard earned dollars on print ads because they don't "pull" anymore.

The buying and selling public has turned their backs on real estate agents, literally. They could care less because they have found a new way to buy and sell their own homes!!

But the real loss is to the buying and selling public!!

The Disruptor that I speak of is a wide range of listing platforms, all owned by a single company by the name of Zillow...

Between creating websites for owners and buyers to use directly and removing the listing agent (the real estate agent as the professional best able to help to buy or sell their homes) from their own listings, Zillow has created the "Unqualified Agent" by featuring them right on the listings they scraped off legitimate real estate sites!

They then charged this "rogue" agent up the wazoo for the right to be in front, suggesting they would be the winner in the race to be the one who gets the first phone call.

Meanwhile the public, in  a state of confusion as to who the real listing agent is, is given the false idea that they were working with the expert on the property. This leads to a distrust and disrespect of ALL real estate agents as the public figures out they are being whom they are not sure but it sure looks like it is the unqualified agent whom they just met at a house they saw on line and who knows NOTHING about the house they want to buy!

See what I mean by DISRUPTION?

The disruption came upon the industry just as we were beginning to see the largest home ownership in the entire history of the US.

Zillow could not have done a better job in ruining our reputations as agents if they tried--oh wait, they planned this all along! Put inexperienced and newer agents who are willing to pay big bucks to get loads of leads on the listings they have scraped off our sites and give the public a sense that NONE of us know what we are doing! Worthless bunch we are because of the few who pay to show properties they know NOTHING about!!!  Oh, the Irony of it all!!

This was no mistake on the part of these giant websites---after all everybody wants a piece of the real estate pie, no? They figured it out and ran with the concept of taking the content right off the websites and creating a chaos that resembles a shattered industry that is incapable of seeing the truth about itself!

Now it's our turn to Disrupt!!

I for one have had enough and I will make every effort to get that message out to others in this industry...

I have complied a list of the most important things we can do to save our businesses and to Disrupt the Disruptors. See below:

  • STOP paying for your leads on the websites that are cleaning you out!! Do your own videos and put them on Instagram and Facebook. Maybe even try doing a webinar to the public, informing them of things such as what to do to prepare your home for sale.
  • Pick an area that you want to focus your entire attention on as your niche--Make it as big as you want but make sure it is not too big to handle as an expert--because that is what you need to be.
  • Begin today to become a local expert--not just another local agent but someone who is fully informed of all that goes on in your niche area, from the baseball team to the schools to the playgrounds and the walking trails tucked away from public view.
  • Make sure to know intimately, ALL the details of disclosure, County/Town/City real estate laws and codes and everything you can find out about the taxes involved in a transaction--Use this information when you pitch a listing or when you are first working with a customer. This is to make them aware of  your knowledge and the fact that you are there to help in more finite ways than your competition.
  • Become a "pillar" of your community by participating in as many local programs and activities as you can. Become an informed museum goer--know the offerings and the exhibits by heart.
  • Gather your wits about you before you meet with a client or a buyer; be your best self because we have a lot of repair to do in this profession after the Disruption of the past 10 years.




                                     **ALL INFORMATION AND CONTENT IN THIS BLOG IS ORIGINAL TO PAULA I. HATHAWAY.  The views expressed herein are my personal views and do not reflect the views of Douglas Elliman Real Estate


Paula I. Hathaway, Senior Broker Associate, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Southamtpon Village Real Estate Specialist since 1995;  Also Specializes in North Sea, Noyac, Water Mill and Bridgehampton, New York

Diamond , Gold and Chairman's Circle Awards; Top Producer since 2005


Click here to see my Hampton's website to see all my listings; please email me or call me for all your real estate needs in Southampton, Bridgehampton and Watermill:



Comment balloon 35 commentsPaula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA • February 28 2018 03:13PM


Hello Paula,  great blog and one that more people should see.  Can I reblog it in about 3 weeks?   I am headed to the first one now.


Posted by Will Hamm, "Where There's a Will, There's a Way!" (Hamm Homes) about 1 year ago

Wow, this goes to the heart of it.  I agree completely. Nichedom works, but only if you really "own" it - know more about it than anyone else and brank it. Super service the heck out of the niche and disrupt the distrupter

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) about 1 year ago

Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, Sr. LBA, ~ your passion and insight rival the best! I just wish more agents would stop, think, and act in a way that's best for the industry and best for consumers! And right now (IMO) that's not the case. 

We are several years into this mess, these 3rd party portals have shown us what to do just as they've shown us what not to do. I say it is time to take back control and provide consumers one TRUSTED place to shop for homes 

Posted by Jon Kolsky, Licensed California Real Estate Broker (Kolsky Realty & Management) about 1 year ago

Great enlightenment Paula. What is needed is an alternative for consumers to go to in lieu of Zillow. As long as they stand between agents and consumers it's their game. Would love to speak to you, regarding ways to create a disruption of the disruptor. Thanks so much ! ~ Coach


Posted by Coach KC™ The Prosperitor™, Marketing • Productivity • Revenue • Development (Prosperitor LLC dba Secured Futures) about 1 year ago

We all need to be the bat instead of the ball.  WE need to determine the how, where, why, when, etc. of our business.  Taking charge is empowering, Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, Sr. LBA,  ...  I can feel your power through your written words here ...


Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) about 1 year ago

Hi KC: You are so right on the mark! The only way we can win in this is to differentiate ourselves from them---our listings no lnger belong to us so that is not someting we can use---We need to be very creative and I think the key is Knowledge about our niche areas....

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 1 year ago

Hi Gene: Thank you Gene; it is so true that we need to have a way to "be the bat"!

So funny the irony of it---we need a bat to combat the Disruptor!! Again, thanks for reading and commenting here---get the word out!!

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 1 year ago

It's easy to BLAME OTHERS for our problems.  Several FSBO sites have been in EXISTENCE FOR YEARS. They TARGETED the FSBO. Their EFFECT on the real estate market has been and still IS INSIGNIFICANT.  ZILLOW'S SUCCESS does NOT COME FROM targeting the FSBO. ZILLOW'S SUCCESS does NOT COME FROM FSBO listings. ZILLOW'S SUCCESS and REVENUE comes from it's TARGET MARKET - the REALTOR.

We got along just fine without Zillow. Zillow needs us we don't need them. Zillow needs our money and listings.  Without our listings the draw to Zillow will be insignificant just as it has been for all the other FSBO sites for decades. Without agents paying Zillow for leads they would have no real revenue. Why keep feeding the problem.  It makes no sense to spend our time, money and energy procurring and presenting a listing then giving it to Zillow for free. Then complain about  Zillow making us look unnecessary.  We are the ones making ourselves look unnecessary by buying into Zillow's agenda. Let's stop the insanity.

Posted by Barry Brown (Bear Realty) about 1 year ago

Hi Barry: It sounds to me that you are just as passionate about the concept as I am--you are preaching to the choir and I appreciate your points well made! "We got along fine before Zillow. Zillow needs us we don't need them"...Very wise words and I am so angry that these dim-wit agents continue to give them both!!

Stay on it too Barry--we need to be a chorus of voices not just a post or two!

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 1 year ago

I thought Upstream was supposed to redirect the flow our OUR data but that has been slow to come around.  

From Inman News:

"The idea that Upstream would be command and control and the warehouse for all broker data is unfolding as an overly ambitious project that the burgeoning group could not pull off."


Individual agents cannot do this alone - no matter how professional and local we may be. If we had had a vote in giving away our data (and understanding the consequences) we would have voted NO.  I feel we were betrayed a long time ago.


Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) about 1 year ago

Video blogs really do boost SEO. I set out today to record a few and got side tracked! I know better. They really do work.

Posted by Denise Copeland, Jupiter Abacoa Sales & Beach Front Luxury Homes (Mirsky Realty Group) about 1 year ago

Paula, this all started when started selling us our leads then home gain then trulia then Zillow. I prefer to do business the old fashioned way, hard work!

Posted by Mike Frazier, Northwest Tennessee Realtor (Carousel Realty of Dyer County) about 1 year ago

Good evening Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, Sr. LBA, 

What a fantastic post! You have given such good advice..I hope agents read this and follow your lead. The disruptor's can be shut down but only with our due diligence.

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) about 1 year ago

A little fact checking here.  It is NAR who failed us, the agents who support it. Zillow and Trulia both give the public what nor MLS ever did. FSBO sites have been up long before there was a Zillow, and the numbers of FSBOs has dropped substantially since. has always charged members for exposure, and now it belongs to a media company that comes in 3rd for traffic. Why do agents support Zillow in droves? Because it gives the public what it wants, listings, history, walk scores, school info, crime maps. It gives agents the opportunity to post reviews, listings, coming soon, and videos of their listings. Not piecemeal, but all on one page. BTW, our listings never belonged to us, they belong to the broker who makes the decision with whom to share. 

Posted by Mary Jo Quay, I Move You Home (Remax Results) about 1 year ago

MaryJo: You need to check your claim as to what is a fact---NAR had nothing to do with the stated claim that Zillow made when they first came on the scene in 2006-7: They stated clearly that their goal was to put brokerages out of business....and never have I mentioned that FSBO's were a problem; they have always been part of the scene and most agents know that they can farm those FSBOs if they so desire--and if they have have the self-driven ambition to do the hard work. I am NOT talking about them. I am talking about the un-informed agent; You know the type: They can't quite seem to get their business going on their own so they lean on Lead generators to get them some. They have money put aside and they are willing to spend that, never mind that they may or may not ever earn the money needed to justify their investment; most don't and many end up going bankrupt doing it. It becomes a sort of addiction--a gambling addiction--"I won once, let's go back for more!" until they have no money left--I have heard all the stories and some are heartbreaking! Meanwhile, the brokerage business IS failing--I hear that all the time as well! It looks so easy to pay to get your face on Z or T or even S and OE (all of these local platforms are now owned by Z, including our own internal listing platform) and then just try to get the public to make a call after a couple of bad experiences with the agent who appears next to the house they want to buy; an agent who never even saw the listing they appear next to and who could not answer basic questions without calling the REAL listing agent! So, call it the brokers listing, the agents listing, the moron who gets all the calls listing--it's really none of those now! Why? Because the content--the real, original content now belongs to Z and because it is now REAL content, not scraped off brokerages websites or "copied" nonoriginal content, it is sucked into the search engines by their hungry algorithms and the rest of us can go suck eggs!! Now, those are the facts, MaryJo--so keep on paying the monster....

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 1 year ago

I wonder how well Zillow would fare if we stopped feeding the beast?  I for one am not paying $1000 per month to Zillow only to get a lead that is interested in one of  Z or T & or's stale listings that went under contract and CLOSED 2 years ago

Posted by Lindsay Reagan, Realtor (Bowen Realty ) about 1 year ago

I believe if we are honest with ourselves, the "problem" is that Zillow has created a website that buyer's absolutely love. I don't have the time or resources to create a website that can compete with them. So as you say, we need to be experts in a niche.

I prefer to serve as a listing agent that works in the farm, ranch and rural property niche. I've decided that I want my listings on Zillow and However, I will not pay extra for leads. After all, buyer's agents want to demonize people that handle both sides of a transaction. So, I don't care who brings the buyer or how much that person paid to get their lead.

I simply want to market my listings so that they will get shown to qualified prospects that are going to be truly interested in the property. I prefer quality showings versus quantity showings. As an expert in my niche, I attend the vast majority of showings. My tasks include making certain that the other agent and the buyer prospect have all of the information they need to make an educated and informed purchase decision that won't be regretted.

Large website owners, utilizing the best "big data" around , can't compete with experts that work in specialized real estate niches.

Posted by Sondra Meyer:, See It. Experience It. Live It. (Star View Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

Thanks for sharing Paula!!!

A Disruptor comes along when complacency sets in--There is an obvious missing link in the eyes of the Disruptor and that is the clue that He watches for in an industry that is ripe for the Disruption that takes place...nothing is the same after that.

Posted by Sham Reddy, CRS (H E R Realty, Dayton, OH) about 1 year ago


One way to battle Zillow would be to expose exactly what a buyer experience would be when they send a message to the "Contact Agent".  

The commercial writes itself.  A buyer contacts the "Contact Agent" and gets someone who knows nothing about the property.  You can show the buyer getting upset and demanding to speak to someone who actually knows something about the property.  

But the NAR would never be able to do anything like that since their so called does the exact same thing.  

You'd also have to be able to send them to a site similar to Zillow but with the "contact agent" being the actual listing agent.  I don't think the local MLS's have that.  There might be a few exceptions.  I think they might have something like that in Houston.

Posted by Tim Maitski, Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal (Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage) about 1 year ago

The discussion about Zillow has been going on for some time now.

We have heard many agents during that time downplay the impact of the "disruption."

Their comments have been, it would not affect them as they would continue to offer the superior service they always have. 

The result has been there has been very little resistance to what has become a major force.

Change has come, and is coming in multiple ways, and we must realize that we are not in position to continue with business as usual.

Your post is well said and I hope many will see that it is time to get off the dime.

Posted by John Wiley, Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA (Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty) about 1 year ago

Thank you John; well said and let's hope it is becoming more clear what needs to be done---there are a myriad of ways to correct the problem but it is very hard work and agents, even though most are hard workers, may not really want to take the time and make the commitment to do it! Once burned however, it becomes a calling to many agents; I am one of those!

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 1 year ago

Paula - you're asking agents to become true professionals. Many are and many newbies will be - but for some reason you'll always have those who think selling real estate is an easy way to make a lot of money.

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) about 1 year ago

Hi Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, Sr. LBA,. Thank you for sharing. You are a breath of fresh air.

So far I've refused to pay for leads and don't see it happening, but it is frustrating that my listing information is sucked up by these sites outside of any control I have. I've experienced may times an agent contact from a zillow lead that's not even from the area - and asks for information that is already in our MLS!! Obviously I Need to accommodate these "agents" for my seller, but it is frustrating...

I hope the madness shows itself for what it is soon - Disruption and Deceit!




Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale (C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100) about 1 year ago

Hi Bruce: Thanks for speaking up! It is maddening to know that not only is it frustrating to the agents but it is soooo frustrating to the buyer and the seller! Each have their own bone to pick but they pick it by laying the blame on the brokerage  community as a whole--they are sick and tired of the lack of knowledge that the agents have. I am willing to take responsibility for anything that I have done to upset the public however, I am never going to say I am sorry for the dim-wits who pay to show up on properties they nothing about!!

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 1 year ago

Does anyone have experience with Homesnap? My MLS is trying to give me a free account and sems to be positioning itself as a Zillow alternative, but I am not familiar wih it.

Posted by Janis Benstock, Sales and Property Management (Settle Down Philadelphia) about 1 year ago

Wow that was quite a blog!  What will our industry look like in 20 years? Hard to predict.  I agree totally on the point about having a niche--that pays off

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) about 1 year ago

Mary: Thanks for reading it--it is the second one so maybe it would be over-kill for you to read the first one too...It says basically the samething but I just sense the feeling of an emerging crisis so want to get my point of view out there to help aleviate some of the stress---There IS something we can do...we do not have to be victims of this crisis in real estate brokerage!

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 1 year ago

Dear Paula,

10 years ago, the internet was a lot more of a mystery to most of us, but now it is easier to do your own thing, because there are vendors out there ready to help us do so.

Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) about 1 year ago

Hi Dorte: By the way, I wish I had a keyboard that offers the .. over your name!! Regardless, thanks for reading and I think you are referring to the innumerable websites that offer all kinds of marketing ideas for our businesses. I am part of a very large company who helps me with my requests so I am satisfied as well....Thanks for reading the post!

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 1 year ago

Itching that niche and scratching out your own well known expertise in the marketplace is priceless !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 1 year ago

Hi Sally and David: 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and commenting too...There is something about the Hamptons tha people never forget. They keep coming back for more, as I did before I finally settled down here. It never gets old!!

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 1 year ago

Good morning Paula. Your thoughtful and focused post draws attention to the real culprit: the actual industry that has in many cases abdicated its job for whatever reason. If you want to score you have to stay in the game, work harder than anyone else and communicate actively with your niche.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) about 1 year ago

Hi Sheila: You are so right! We have to do the work to "stay in the game"--no matter where we live. This is a very tough business and to make the mistake of thinking leads will fall in your lap if you pay enough money, will eventually dissapoint and may even destroy you financially. I have seen agents fall into the trap and never get out--it is very, very scary.

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 1 year ago

Great topic that is - and will remain something we will need to consider in making our business planning and budget decisions.

Posted by Dave Rosenmarkle, 31 years of providing fully satisfying service! (Highland Realty) 28 days ago

Hi Dave:
Thanks for the comment--I hope we all survive this debacle--I am hearing positive things about interest rates going down significantly--maybe around 3%! That is as of today 3/ 27/19--heard on CNBC

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) 28 days ago