A flurry of recent moves by Zillow — notably the debut of an in-house brokerage, the acquisition of ShowingTime, and the pivot of Zestimate from a lead-generation tool to a cash-offer facilitator — all point to one conclusion: Zillow is gunning to replace the traditional agent-client relationship.
Skeptical? You don’t have to take our word for it. Here’s what Zillow CEO, Rich Barton, had to say on the matter:
“We dream one day of you having an almost trade-in experience with your house … where you’re standing in a Zillow Offers house that we own. You’ve been there 15 times. You’ve let yourself in with the Zillow app. We know who you are and where you live, we already have a mortgage ready to go. We have an offer ready for your house when you’re ready to transact and you, with one click, can decide to move.”
Notice the role of real estate agents is conspicuously absent from the statement? That’s not an oversight.
So, what can you do to push back and keep your business thriving?
Drop Zillow Premier Agent
Agent advertising is one of Zillow’s largest revenue channels. The funds generated from it help bankroll the company’s other, non-revenue generating services, such as Zillow Offers, which currently operates at a loss of thousands of dollars per transaction.
So why, then, would you want to give resources to a company that will turn around and use them to bolster the products and services intended to run you out of business? Why fund your own demise? Take your marketing budget elsewhere.
Besides, Zillow Premier Agent will only lose efficacy in the coming months and years. As licensed Zillow agents crop up in markets across the country, Zillow will likely pass premium leads to those agents first. Third-party agents, on the other hand, will be left to jockey for the leftovers. And it’s not as though advertising through Zillow Premier Agent will be getting any cheaper as a concession for fewer returns.
Invest heavily in your online brand
While consumers use Zillow’s home search portal to research properties, very rarely do they intend to find an agent on the platform. Most turn to search engines like Google to do that at some point in their real estate journey. Make sure you’re there to capture their attention.
Specifically, invest in both your organic and non-organic presence so you have a consistent, wide-reaching, and credible presence across the web. Make sure your website is modern and offers value, such as market reports or free appraisals. Invest in a Google business profile so you can rank higher for broad search terms like “best agent near me” or “best agent in X city.”
Bolster your positive reviews for greater credibility and reputation management. And, finally, use products like Google’s Local Services Ads so you can appear above other paid search ads and seamlessly connect with high-intent homebuyers through the ad units’ direct calling feature.
Beat Zillow to would-be sellers
Zillow earns its leads because consumers come to its platform when they’re ready to buy or sell their home. But what if you could reach those consumers before they know they’re ready to transact? What if you could eliminate the need for them to visit the Zillow platform entirely?
Homesnap Pro’s free Likelihood to List feature is a powerful, data-backed algorithm that assigns properties a score based on their probability of hitting the market, from least to most likely. Using this tool, you can bring laser precision to your canvassing (homeowner contact information is included) and personalize your marketing.
Get ready to use Homesnap Showings
When news broke that Zillow had acquired ShowingTime, we accelerated the development of Homesnap Showings, an agent-friendly showing management tool. Our goal is to provide agents and brokers with an easy-to-use, free way to collaborate with clients without fear that their data will be shared with — or controlled by — a market competitor.
Homesnap Showings is set to launch soon, so keep an eye out — and make sure to let your MLS know that you’d like this agent-friendly option for scheduling your showings.
Share your knowledge
The best chance to push back against Zillow’s encroachment on the real estate agent (and, in turn, brokers and MLSs, too) is for the industry to put forth a united front. Encourage your colleagues, brokers, and MLS partners to refrain from doing business with Zillow.
In fact, all you have to do is share our latest whitepaper, “The End of the Real Estate Agent?” In it, we break down Zillow’s recent moves, predictions of things to come in the coming months and years, and actionable advice for marketing, advertising, and lead generation independent of the Zillow ecosystem.