Agents and lenders communicate with one another through dozens of channels, like social media or the consumer portals. Consumer portals have different bells and whistles and specialize in different ways. Depending on your business, it might be best to be on them all. But, that’s not always the case.
It’s not always straightforward, knowing which ones you should invest in. To help, we're writing guides to the big-name portals starting with Zillow.
Zillow is a giant when it comes to consumer portals. Based in Seattle, Wash., Zillow started in 2006. Today, the company channels over 100 million listings in its database.
Zillow’s consumer following peaks in the thousands across many channels. The platform has many services that help people during the home buying or renting process.
In this series of articles, we walk you through what Zillow has to offer and stories that involve the company’s tools and efforts.
Why Use Zillow?
Zillow’s online platform is robust, to say the least.
The company focuses on home buyers, but agents and lenders have a large section carved out too.
For home buyers, all they need to do is show up to Zillow’s website. They don’t need to sign up for updates, emails and anything else to search for homes in the area.
When you first get to the site, many listings from the area are right there, as if waiting for you. Thousands, even millions more are discoverable after a few clicks.
Many factors are available to set when searching for homes. Home buyers or renters can zero in on what they’re looking for by selecting what they want in a home.
Are you looking for a modern home? Or, are you looking for something more traditional? Just pick.
According to Morgan Stanley research, about 51 percent of industry searches are to Zillow. That said, it’s likely home buyers, renters and owners start their home searches on Zillow.
Yet, that’s just the start. When consumers continue their process, they have options of much more than houses, condos or apartments.
So why use Zillow? It’s one of the first points of contact for home buyers, renters and sellers.
Zillow’s Tools Bring Business and Online Referrals
“No matter what type of real estate needs you have, finding the local real estate professional you want to work with is the first step,” Zillow wrote on its website.
Zillow can bring a great deal of business your way.
Real estate agents can post their listings on the platform for free with videos and as many photos as they’d like. The listing doesn’t have to be the property that just went up either. It could be the one that’s in the backseat or the one that’s “coming soon.”
If you plan to take this route, you can ramp up your marketing around this to-be-expected property, giving you enough time to form a well-ordered line around the block.
The listing is also roped into Zillow’s (and Trulia’s) email blasts. That function alone can help take the legwork out of email marketing.
Some professionals aren't keen on using the big-name portals, though. They don't work for everybody. Yet, the tools available can be used to round out your advertising and marketing strategies.
Inman staff writer Teke Wiggin wrote, "Many real estate agents think buying visibility on Zillow is a poor investment... The fiercest critics say you might as well light cash on fire."
Wiggin tells the story of the "Zillow Queens," a four-person team in based in Virginia that spends roughly $80,000 per year on Zillow advertising.
That’s about $7,000 monthly, through 18 postal codes.
Yes, it’s steep. But the team’s returns gave them the opportunity to make it happen.
They brought in 62 percent of their commissions from advertising efforts. Their gross commission from 53 deals came out to be just under $750,000, Wiggins wrote, giving them a 550 percent return on investment.
That’s almost unbelievable.
What it took was a simple strategy to take advantage of Zillow’s website traffic and tools.
Kristin Stone, the team leader, encouraged her clients to submit reviews to Zillow. The reviews came in one after another. Before long, she had quite the stack. This also helped bring in leads for the team.
"By June 2014, when Kristin's profile boasted more than 60 reviews, the team was reeling in more than 200 leads a month from Zillow, up from 80 to 100 leads just a year before... " Wiggin wrote.
All Stone had to do was maintain her good attitude with consumers, and, of course, encourage them to write reviews.
Not only does Zillow help clients find agents and vice versa, but it puts agents in different roles.
MarketWatch reported that agents advertising on Zillow received 30 percent more dual-side deals. That’s significant, given Zillow has about 51 percent of industry visits.
"Financially, that means a big payday for the agent, who doesn't have to split the commission with someone else – effectively doubling his or her pay," wrote Amy Hoak, personal finance editor at MarketWatch.
About 60 percent of Zillow Premier Agents advertising on Zillow increased their dual agency transactions by about 30 percent, the study said. It's the same for buyer and seller agents.
"When factoring in the other 'side' of the dual agency transaction, agents stand to generate an ROI of over 50% to +100% on their total annual ad spend from this single transaction," Morgan Stanley reported. "In turn, this phenomenon appears to be contributing to an increase in agent satisfaction."
The survey compiled responses from 211 real estate agents and brokers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Dallas.
Breaking It Down
Zillow enables agents to bring in more business. Part of that is based on consumers reviews and part of that comes from a dual-agency position.
Depending on how you use Zillow, it can help... a lot. But it doesn't work for everybody, unfortunately.
We end part one of our Zillow guide here. We'll pick back up soon, so make sure to check from for more information about using Zillow in the real estate and mortgage industries.