Any time Zillow is in the news for business acquisition or for rolling out a new online feature, some real estate agents hit the panic button. A quick look at any Zillow-related Facebook comment section reveals agents’ fears about Zillow taking over, controlling the home buying and selling process, stealing data and ultimately putting them out of business. But I’m not afraid of Zillow. Here’s why:
I’m not afraid of Zillow, because I’m not afraid of anyone.
Competition and innovation are healthy and they work in the customer’s favor. That’s what I focus on first and foremost – the customer experience. Zillow recognizes that the client experience inside of the real estate transaction can often be a fractured one. They are working to smooth out the process by acquiring technology and developing products and services that make the client experience more seamless. That’s not a bad thing! That is exactly what we should be doing for our clients as real estate agents.
Zillow has natural aspirations for a company of their size. Many companies are trying to get bigger and take over their space – and that includes us here at Redwood! If Zillow had the ability to manage 100% of the real estate transactions, then they would. That doesn’t make them evil, that makes them a growth-minded company.
Zillow is not trying to put real estate agents out of a job.
The interesting thing about Zillow is that buyers and sellers are not their biggest customers—we are. Currently, they make a huge chunk of their revenue from selling consumer leads and access to leads to real estate agents. So if they are trying to put agents out of a job, they would be sabotaging a hugely profitable part of their business.
Zillow is not a traditional brokerage (yet). Unlike Redfin, they are not our direct competition. We can’t work with Redfin, and we certainly can’t advertise through them. If Zillow becomes more like Redfin, then we will stop working with them and their bottom line will take a huge hit. So as Zillow’s customers, we actually have a lot of power.
If Zillow becomes a “real” brokerage and stops selling leads to agents, then we will roll with it.
If Zillow becomes more of a traditional brokerage, then we will treat them like any other competing brokerage. Redfin has already gone down that path, and I’m not scared of Redfin, either! I keep an eye on them…just like I do with any other competitor that has large market share in our area.
We are all trying to be the king of the hill and we all want 100% of the market. If we don't want 100%, then what are we doing?! At the end of the day, if there are 100 transactions in our area each month, I want my Redwood agents to have ALL of them – preferably both sides of the transactions!
This isn’t greed, this is a desire for growth that fuels innovation. It pushes us to continue to adapt and offer our agents the best-in-class tools, training and support so that they can dominate their local market!
My advice? Don’t waste time contemplating the evils of Zillow. Instead, focus on growing your business and providing superior client service.
Never take your eyes off the customer. Real estate transactions are emotional and complex, and consumers have more than their fair share of pain points along the way. As an agent, make it your mission to minimize these pain points.
At the end of the day, what makes real estate agents special is our ability to advocate for our clients and collaborate with our peers and partners in other related industries to provide an extraordinary client experience.
When you peel back the layers and get to the root of this debate, agents have a huge advantage over Zillow. A great agent will guide their clients through the entire process and refer them to the best possible loan officers, title company, home inspector, hazard insurance agent, etc. to make their transaction as smooth and seamless as possible. Zillow is trying to do on a macro level what you’re already doing on a local level.
Zillow should go to bed worried about real estate agents…and I suspect they do!
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