ZOLVE.com – Another RE Network

[photopress:et.jpg,thumb,alignright]On Sunday I had the opportunity to interview Brian Wilson who is today launching yet another Real Estate “Social” Networking platform, ZOLVE.com

The press release states it is “the industry’s first and only”:

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. – October 9, 2007 – Zolve today announced the launch of the first online network for real estate professionals. Zolve is the industry’s first and only online real estate network designed to help real estate professionals streamline the client referral process and expand their spheres of influence in order to do more business.”

We all know it isn’t the first, but it may be the first to charge for the privilege of being a participant.

“Zolve offers a 30-day, risk free trial. During the first year of operation, Zolve membership is $395, a discount of $600 from the list price of $995 per year or $99 per month.”

The interesting part of this story is that Brian dreamed up the idea after being deployed and while serving in Baghdad.

The more I spoke with Brian, the less I got the impression that it was like Facebook or Linkedin, the two names he mentioned the most during the call. I said, Brian, it sounds more like a network that would have been started based on a designation like CRS. A place where agents with a CRS designation could find other CRS designated agents.

He said, well ARDELL you kind of “nailed it” in that I DID start with fellow CRS designees. I asked how many of the 2,200 pre-signed members were CRS designees. Brian replied ALL 2,200 of them hold the CRS designation.

Given that fact, one might sign up now in case the current participants assume that all are CRS designees. Just sit quietly in the closet like ET, hoping to blend in and be chosen by association. Though I think it might have been more valuable if holding the CRS Designation was a requirement of membership long term. With all of the Social Networking platforms springing up everywhere, perhaps an exclusive group would have more appeal.

The referral fees are exchanged broker to broker in the selection process, and not shared in any way by the ZOLVE owners. While it is being touted as a place for agents to find other agents, I think its value will lie in buyers and sellers being able to view the members directly.

Everyone can find most agents online all by themselves. Shouldn’t the process of an agent getting 25% or more of the commission for telling another agent about someone who is interested in buying or selling a home just go away? Shouldn’t companies like Microsoft let their new hirees from around the Country go to one of these sites and pick their own agent, instead of charging the agent 35% or more so that the Company can choose an agent for them, to help defray the relocation costs?

Still the question begs to be answered. When will technology benefit the buyers and sellers directly? When will the machine that keeps the commission high so it can be split up into various slices, fall by the wayside? When will the buyers and sellers be able to take that same 25% – 35% or more for themselves, by entering into sites like ZOLVE and choosing their own agent.

Why can’t they “refer themselves” and take the same money an agent is more than willing to pay to another agent, but not to their client direct?

Until new and more sites evolve that create better and cheaper options for consumers, these sites like ZOLVE are just another way to perpetuate same old, same old. All the commission dollars being kept high to support the good old boy agent to agent palm greasing.

So a real estate broker, this one sitting in Baghdad, dreamed up yet another way to profit off agents paying each other for an introduction to a buyer or seller of real estate, adding yet another layer of cost for the consumer.

Better to have used that “think time” to find a way for buyers and sellers to pay a small fee to enter the site, choose their own agent, and take 25% of the commission into their corner.

Referral fees should go away. Yet another site to perpetuate referral fees is using Web 2.0 for the wrong reason.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: ardelld@gmail.com cell: 206-910-1000

34 thoughts on “ZOLVE.com – Another RE Network

  1. Kary,

    The platform was “seeded” with 2,200 CRS members who did not pay $395 to be there. Once your content is there, as there will be a blogging platform, you have to pay the higher $995 annual fees to stay and protect your content. Feels drug dealerish, doesn’t it. Free for 30 days. Low come on rate. Higher rate to protect your content, which may go up every year.

    I think we’re going to go back to door knocking.

  2. I’ve worked a few transactions, as both referer and referee where the other agent involved and I “rebated” back a significant portion of the referral fee.

    You know what both agents ended up with?

    “Clients for life” that also told all their friends and families about us. The referals from the CLIENTS far outweighed the “lost” referral fees between agents.

    Sadly, many agents I propose this to look at me like I have two heads.

  3. Ardell,

    Funny you should say “…back to door knocking.” Low and behold, today two fine ladies from a real estate office did just that at our home while I was managing some contractors on our driveway project this morning.

    Door-knocking is back!

  4. I’m with you Ines. In another odd and disgusting topic (but not too far off this one) I had another RE/MAX agent ask me if I thought a particular blogging format would be good for him to consider. They were charging about the same fee and I told him to run for the hills and consider other avenues. It’s amazing how many companies vye for the agent’s dollar and even more frightening to see how many of them will pay it without researching enough on their own for lower cost and, sometimes, more effective alternatives.

  5. I just don’t see the value in paying even $10 to find a referral agent. If I need to find a good agent out of my area, I will probably check ActiveRain, then RealTalk or the e-PRO directory, then Google. CRS agents also have the CRS website, and the annual directory, as well as all the contacts they make personally at conventions. My primary concern in finding a referral agent is to make sure that my referral client has the best agent that serves the area that they need!

  6. Good grief – loose the auto-play sales lady pitch! What exactly does the spinning globe do besides hurl planets at you? Nice design, but not really relevant. Blog layout is pretty different… kind of interesting. RSS feed needs to be in the header, having it be a javascript thing kills bots picking it up… keep it simple. I have no faith in paid sites – I can’t think of many that have made in a “population matters” type social site.

  7. Pingback: Zolve (Non-Active Rain?) at Condo Blog

  8. I have the same kind of ill-feelings towards the idea and the cost. I’m sure they did their research. I just don’t see the real distinguishing factor that will separate them from the other networks . But heck what do i know? Let’s see what happens.

  9. I went in last night and couldn’t find anything much for the agents. But that’s to be expected this early on. The concept that we’d have referrals all over the world didn’t ring true to me. But that just might be my personal experience of 17 years.

  10. I applaud Brian’s enthusiasm but I think he forgot one of the four P’s of marketing….”price”. I will be asked to pay $1,400 in the first 13 months of using this unproven product? Perhaps I would consider being an early adopter but not Zolve’s private investor.

    “Zolve today announced the launch of the first online network for real estate professionals.”

    I have been successfully using the net as a real estate tool for years and I can tell you that the above statement is inaccurate. I have several alternatives in my favorites folder.

    Specifically, I use a similar service, http://www.referralkey.com, which performs great and allows my associates in areas other than real estate to get involved. It has proven to be a wise investment at $9.99 a month.

    I see no compelling reason to switch.

  11. I might have not got an opportunity to interview Brian on the launch of his new website, but im glad i got to speak to the programmers and designers behind the scene.
    This is to a lot of poeple who think Zolve is just another real estate website, you have to visit the site to make out the difference it carries from a lot others on web today.
    For more read my blog on


    Parul Bindra
    Brand Manager

  12. What Greg Swann might call a “Black Pearl” you guys gave me a great idea. Particularly with this line

    “Still the question begs to be answered. When will technology benefit the buyers and sellers directly? When will the machine that keeps the commission high so it can be split up into various slices, fall by the wayside? When will the buyers and sellers be able to take that same 25% – 35% or more for themselves”

    And so it is done. http://www.twentyback.com is a referral site that will give the referred client a rebate on the commission. Far as I can tell it’s the first of it’s kind.

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