I also wanted to test the Zillow lead generator.
Now that they have buried the three Premier Agents at the bottom of the listing, how do consumers get more information – and from who do they get it? They added the Contact Agent box at the top of the listing, which kind of makes you think you will be connected to the listing agent. But that’s not what happens (though I do get mentioned about halfway down without a phone number or link).
Once Zillow published the listing on Wednesday afternoon, I clicked on the Contact Agent to find out.
Within minutes I received a text – here is the thread:
I was standing next to my phone and didn’t hear any ringing, but it’s possible he called. I let it go for the rest of the night to see about their follow up, and indeed it began again on Thursday morning. A new guy connected me to Cheri, who didn’t know anything about the house but was very nice.
Once our phone call was complete, I received this by email:
Coincidentally (or not?), one of the agents from The Avenue Home Collection did show my listing yesterday. Because their office is nearby, their broker Melissa also stopped by. She is a 19-year veteran and was brought up in the business by old-school people like me, so we got along right away.
She confirmed what I’ve been thinking.
Zillow has selected a handful of brokerages with high customer-service ratings as partners. Zillow has their own phone team make the first contact the consumer, then forward the call to one of the agents.
She didn’t say how much she is paying, but it’s not as much as the top Zillow agent in the area who she suspected is paying around $30,000 per month for the majority of the market share. It’s a ton of money to invest and be dependent upon the Zillow phone guys to serve up the leads fresh and hot. The Zillow guy who called me was pathetic, though it was early (around 9am) and every phone solicitor will tell you that they need to warm up first. I was probably his first call?
They have only been Zillow partners for four months, so it’s early. I told her to hang in there, because I am constantly amazed at how casual and naive the consumers are about selecting their realtor. Because there isn’t any transparency about an agent’s skill level, people just grab one – and with Zillow’s name recognition and horsepower, they should be able to convert viewers into buyers and sellers as well as anyone.
Realtor.com, RPR, HomeSnap, Compass, KW, CB, and others have said they might mount a challenge Zillow’s search portal, but there isn’t anyone close to spending the money on national advertising as Zillow.
It reminded me of this clip – Zillow is just waiting for a challenger – and the likely outcome:
We regularly enjoy your blog. We’re not actively looking for property but in the covid era, browsing interesting listings has become entertainment and one never knows. We saw an unusual property near our home on a Zillow listing. I filled out the “more information” box assuming a knowledgeable agent would contact me. Then the chaos began. First I got a confusing call from somebody quickly telling me that an agent will contact me. Then I got a text from a man introducing himself as an agent. Then I got a call from him but when I answered there was no one there. Soon after there were two more texts with other agent names. Then a call from a woman who started out by telling me that she was getting so many calls about the subject property and she was expecting to receive multiple offers. This led me to believe she was the listing agent. After several minutes I interrupted her gushing about the listing to ask specific questions. She seemed to actually know nothing more about the property than what was in the listing. Then when pressed she said she was going to go to “the city” in the afternoon to get answers to the questions for the other potential buyers and me. This was odd, since the listing was located only I n the county, so it finally hit me that she wasn’t the listing agent. Once she confirmed that she was not, I thanked her for her time and told her I wasn’t going to pursue an offer with her. After that I started receiving texts from Zillow regularly, and had to ask them to please stop texting me. Then I got bombarded with emails with listings that were nothing like the original, and we had no interest in at all. I felt very duped, as I had to go back and search for the little item at the bottom with the actual listing agent. I will never intentionally deal with a Zillow agent again. Ugh, bad experience!
Great example of their current sales machine – thanks Iris!
Zillow has designed their listings to make you think you are contacting the listing agent, and then the next TWO people you speak with AREN’T the listing agent, and don’t work for the listing brokerage – and may not even be in the same town.
BOTH of these people would need to be master salesmen to pull it off successfully.
The Zillow executives are so rich and happy that it’s no surprise that they haven’t set up a professional phone room (think Glengarry Glen Ross). They have been singing the new-age disrupter happy talk for so long, it would never occur to them that they need old-fashioned salespeople on the phones.
It’s the realtors who pay five figures per month that shock me. They know – or should know – that the Zillow lead-handling machine isn’t that smooth, and the customers are roughed-up by the time they get to a real agent. Those who get the calls patched through to them will have to be real phone salesmen to have a fighting chance to convert them to clients.
How many of the agents are sharp, professional, capable phone-salespeople who can instantly discuss a listing they’ve never seen, and pull it off?
Google Voice is your friend. Internet based voice account that uses local area codes.
you will never be bothered again.
So was Cheri a flex partner Jim?
I don’t think so. Melissa confirmed that she has a deal with Zillow like Sea Villa Realty and Zandra does where they get a bulk of the leads and Zillow screens them first too.
Premier Agents are throwing money away now if they aren’t in the selected companies.