As an online real estate behemoth encompassing a wide variety of platforms and services, including an iBuyer, mortgage lender, closing service provider and, controversially, a brokerage, Zillow enjoys both a huge industry presence and a commanding online footprint.
Being part of its platform, therefore, can help agents build authority and offer a competitive SEO advantage, especially in hard-to-crack markets.
Zillow offers both paid and unpaid options, with a variety of ways to connect with home shoppers from its portal while learning from the data insights they provide.
Find out how Zillow has been enhancing its services for agents over the past year, especially in its paid platform, Premier Agent. Then, determine whether Zillow is the right fit for your marketing budget.
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Getting to know Zillow
Zillow is perhaps best known for its online real estate portal which enjoys a dominant online position. Founded in 2006, the portal has traditionally positioned itself as a media company that aggregates data from MLSs and generates revenue through advertising.
Now, however, with its acquisition of real estate-related subsidiaries like dotloop and ShowingTime, end-to-end transaction services, iBuyer program and its late-2020 foray into brokerage services, the company has taken a more hands-on, direct role in the industry.
The white-hot real estate market of 2020 and 2021 has resulted in predictably huge numbers for the industry giant. According to Errol Samuelson, chief industry development officer at Zillow, 2020 visits to Zillow apps and sites topped out at a record 9.6 billion, a surge of 19 percent from the previous year.
The first half of 2021 has seen 229 million unique users per month, with year-over-year growth of 5 percent, and 2.8 billion visits, up 10 percent from the previous year.
In addition, according to a recent Zillow report, the platform’s iBuyer service, Zillow Offers, along with the three other largest iBuyer platforms, set an all-time high for sales in Q2, pushing the market share for iBuyers to 1 percent of U.S. home purchases for the first time.
What’s more, 84 percent of homes sold to iBuyers in Q2 were not listed for sale beforehand, adding all-important net inventory to the market after months of razor-thin inventory.
Agents seeking to take advantage of the online power of Zillow’s portal can do so through claiming their complimentary profile at no charge or through becoming a member of Zillow’s paid program, Premier Agent.
Whether choosing the paid or unpaid platform, agents can optimize their profiles, provide information on past transactions and gain top billing on active listings within the platform.
In addition, you can request reviews from your Zillow profile, helping you build your authority and optimize your appearance in online searches. Reviews can come from closed transactions as well as from clients for whom you have provided information or other resources.
Zillow Premier Agent resources
Zillow’s paid Premier Agent program is designed to provide enhanced data and services to its members. With solutions geared toward individual agents, teams and brokerages, this premium membership product offers a host of options for optimizing your performance on the platform.
According to Samuelson, over the past year, Zillow has increased the speed with which it connects home shoppers with Premier Agents, implementing VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol) to increase connection speeds by 45 percent.
To make partners more effective, Zillow provides specific request details in the Premier Agent app, including inquiries for multiple listings. “Providing this information up-front helps agents better understand the customer’s progress and helps agents build rapport with clients as soon as they are connected,” said Samuelson.
Premier Agents can take advantage of the new Zillow Academy, providing on-demand free agent education with best practices from top-performing agents and data-driven insights from Zillow.
In addition, agents with a proven track record of success on the platform can earn Best of Zillow status, which provides an additional 20 percent boost of their existing Ad Bonus, priority access to new inventory, and customized training including one-on-one strategic planning, coaching and other resources.
Best of Zillow recipients are identified based on metrics including customer satisfaction and transaction history. “Ultimately, we are building a new ecosystem of radically simplified, connected offerings, where Zillow Premier Agent partners are equipped to provide the home shoppers that come to Zillow the best possible moving experience,” Samuelson said.
Zillow’s Flex program
For Premier Agents, Zillow is also seeking to provide opportunities to increase transactions without increasing upfront costs. Its Flex program allows agents to pay for advertising only when a transaction closes.
According to Samuelson, “This aligns Zillow’s business with agents’ success, ensuring we are both working toward shared goals of closed transactions and positive customer experiences.”
In the traditional Premier Agent model, partners receive leads and client connections in a specific geographic market by paying for a share of the ZIP code. By contrast, Flex agents receive connections without paying Zillow upfront. Instead, they pay a success fee out of escrow to Zillow upon closing.
Flex is being offered by invitation only in markets across the country. In Atlanta and Phoenix, the Flex model is currently the exclusive Premier Agent program for partners. Flex-worthy performance is based on a few key performance indicators, including:
- Record of transactions: Keep past sales up to date in Zillow, even if they come from other lead sources, and regularly add new transactions
- In-app engagement: Engage with clients using the Zillow Premier Agent App. You can do this by creating or updating notes on clients, sending a client a message with the app, or adding a transaction.
- Appointment rate: Convert connections received from Zillow into in-person appointments.
- Conversion rate: Convert connections received from Zillow into closed transactions.
- Customer experience: Maintain a customer experience score that qualifies as Fair, Good, or Best of Zillow.
In addition, agents participating in the Flex program are required to maintain weekly updates on all of their active contacts within the Zillow Premier Agent app, facilitate payment to Zillow within 15 days of a transaction closing date and keep performance above minimum standards at all times.
Zillow’s tech enhancements for 2021
According to Samuelson, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of technology like Zillow’s 3D Home tours, but much of the groundwork was laid two years ago at a time when Zillow was focused on streamlining the end-to-end transaction experience. Earlier this year, the portal unveiled new interactive floor plans, helping home shoppers navigate a property remotely.
“These AI-generated floor plans made home shopping during the height of the pandemic much easier for customers and enabled agents to showcase the layout of a home online without having to sacrifice safety or time,” Samuelson said.
In addition, Zillow’s online transaction platform, dotloop, recently partnered with Notarize, the online notary platform, to enable remote online notarization 24/7. This integration provides timely and convenient access for remote transactions, with remote identity verification and audio-visual access to a commissioned notary.
This is just one of the ways that Zillow is streamlining communications and transactions for partner agents, according to Samuelson. “We’ve made it easier than ever for Zillow Premier Agent partners to communicate with their customers through the Zillow Premier Agent app or by integrating with any one of 120 approved third-party CRMs.”
Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.