With over 218 million unique monthly users and 110 million homes featured, Zillow is the most popular real estate website in the world.
In fact, after the acquisition of Trulia, the Zillow Group accounted for up to 79% of all real estate online activity and today, millions of real estate agents generate repeat revenue using the platform.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. More and more agents are beginning to view Zillow as a fierce competitor—one that wields its powerful platform to aggregate customer data, leverage market intelligence, and elbow out any real estate agents who don’t pay for its promotional services. (For many Zillow skeptics, the recent news about its new offering, Zillow Homes, only served to further prove their point.)
While there are some legitimate reasons to be wary of Zillow’s role in the real estate market, there’s no denying that it is still a viable lead generation platform. And when used correctly, it can deliver a stellar competitive advantage to your real estate business.
But in order for Zillow to work for you (and not against you), you’ll need to learn how to capture and convert Zillow leads with ease and consistency. This guide will help you do just that.
With a plethora of free real estate listing platforms to choose from, one of the key questions for any agent or team is: How much do they charge for leads?
Unfortunately, the cost of Zillow leads is anything but straightforward.
Zillow doesn’t offer a monthly subscription or set fee for all leads. Like Uber, Amazon and even Disney, Zillow uses surge pricing to set costs based on the level of demand across multiple variables such as your zip code, the median home prices in your zip code and your set share of voice.
Costs can range from $20 to $80 per lead, or $100 to $1,000 per month. It all depends on what’s happening in your market and the parameters you set around your Zillow budget.
At the time of writing this, Zillow’s My Agent program is the only way to achieve full exclusivity for some listings on Zillow. However, if you set your share of voice to 100, home shoppers will see you in that ZIP code 100 percent of the time.
Currently, the main difference between Realtor.com and Zillow leads is in the way they are dished out to agents.
In Zillow, a potential buyer is prompted to contact an agent by clicking on their profile right next to a listing. In Realtor.com, leads click a ‘Contact Agent’ button on the listing and those leads are then distributed to agents paying for that specific zip code.
Both platforms use market conditions to determine their pricing.
At Follow Up Boss, we have seen agents achieve mountains of success on both Zillow and Realtor.com. In our experience, the secret to winning on either platform is all about how you set up your system.
For example, if you’d rather be in the top three agents listed and automatically route leads to an agent on your team, Zillow is the obvious choice. If you’d rather take your chances (and likely save a few bucks in the process), Realtor.com can also be a big win—provided that your speed to lead is lightning fast.
“Three years ago, I was spending $40,000 per month on Zillow leads but then the cost of the leads increased 600% over the course of a year,” says Florida-based team owner Robert Slack. After struggling to pay Zillow every month, Robert realized he could get twice the number of leads for the same price by switching to Realtor.com.
But the clincher wasn’t where he got his leads. It was how he handled them.
“People complain about online leads all the time. They buy them but they have no system for converting them. That’s like buying a Mercedes and not having enough for gas.”
For more on how to make the most of your paid leads, take a behind-the-scenes look at Robert’s high ROI lead management process in this deep dive interview.
For a detailed breakdown of Realtor Pro vs. Zillow Premier Agent, check out this comprehensive breakdown from the folks over at Folio.
The key to making the most out of Zillow lies in first understanding what makes these leads different from leads that come in via other sources.
Before we dive into the step-by-step breakdown of how to boost your Zillow conversions, let’s take a minute to unpack these differences so you can use them to create a more relevant and effective strategy for converting Zillow leads.
Potential buyers and sellers who start their real estate journey on Zillow tend to be more informed about the local market. Compared to other prospects, these leads generally view many more properties because Zillow shows them all the active listings in their area.
Using various filters, prospective buyers and sellers can quickly view a wide range of properties that fit their criteria and instantly gain market knowledge, simply by comparing multiple listings.
Zillow also offers several bonus features to help potential home buyers and sellers deepen their knowledge of the market.
For example, Zestimates allow sellers to see the approximate price for a property, while the Make Me Move feature allows them to find out whether someone is willing to buy their house for a certain price, without ever even listing the property.
While these bonus features are incredibly attractive for potential homebuyers and sellers, they can also be highly inaccurate. Experienced real estate agents almost always have more relevant market data to help their clients find a better deal.
Here’s how Anthony Malafronte, owner of the highly successful My Tampa Agent Realty team, uses what he calls a “Better Than Zillow” approach to effectively convert Zillow leads:
“I had a listing appointment where the potential seller told me ‘Zillow said my house is worth ‘this’’. I looked at her and said ‘So when the Zillow rep came to your house, what did they think of that beautiful XYZ feature?’. She said ‘they were never here.’ I was able to show her that her house is very similar to the one we just sold down the street, and it was more than what the Zestimate said.”
The fact of the matter is, Zillow is never going to adjust its features just to make life easier for real estate agents. Today’s savviest Realtors will find ways to use the heightened information leads obtain via Zillow to build trust and demonstrate that no matter how star-studded the feature, a trusted local agent can provide better and more valuable insight than any online platform ever could.
While Zillow leads are often viewed as hotter and more ready to buy than leads from other sources, this thinking can lead to some serious disappointment. The truth is, with so many people using Zillow to find properties, you never know for certain which stage of the real estate journey a specific prospect is in.
Some leads may be on the verge of buying, while others may be months from a decision. As a result, you may end up with an assortment of leads of varying quality and buying timelines—all of which can make it harder to consistently convert these leads into deals.
The first thing to do is shift your mindset regarding the “types” of leads coming in from Zillow.
Every prospect has their own time frame, and with the right follow up and drip campaigns in place, you can automatically nurture leads that are months away from a decision while spending your higher touch energy—like texts and phone calls—on the contacts in your database who are most likely to purchase.
The fact that Zillow leads are so diverse means that they can be converted in a myriad of ways. The trick is to have a system in place to ensure that every person who calls you becomes a viable lead.
People who use Zillow, trust Zillow. So when someone contacts you regarding a property they found on the site, it’s wise to work with the brand—not against it.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to build a winning relationship with your Zillow leads is to make sure prospects see you as a Zillow partner, rather than a rival.
You can build a trusted partnership with incoming contacts from Zillow by helping them understand how the platform works so that they can make the most out of it.
When you start working with Zillow leads, remember that they’ve already used the Zillow platform and have likely done their research on you, too. Make a strong first impression by creating a welcoming Zillow profile to instantly establish trust, while racking up positive reviews. (More on this in a minute.)
For now, let’s take a closer look at a few more specific steps you can take to make Zillow worth 100% it.
Even though Zillow attracts tens of millions of visitors monthly, you’ll still have to put in some work to get a piece of that pie. The first step?
Listing on the platform.
This is going to sound obvious, but if you want to attract leads on Zillow, you need to feature your listings on Zillow.
But bear in mind, not all listings are created equal and among millions of properties featured on Zillow, some will attract much more attention than others.
Here are some tips to win more visitors to your Zillow listings:
Although listing properties on Zillow is free, you can boost your exposure and attract more leads by joining Zillow’s paid Premier Agent program.
Here’s how it works.
When agents add properties to Zillow, they are listed as listing agents. Premier Agents are highlighted as the top three agents on a listing that buyers can reach out to in order to learn more about the property.
Effectively, Premier Agent membership allows you to engage more buyer leads by being featured on other agent’s listings. And yes, it’s pay-to-play.
If you are a Premier Agent and list properties yourself, you will be the only agent in the contact field. But as mentioned, all of this comes at a price.
The fee for Premier Agent status depends on the ZIP code you want. The higher the property value within the target ZIP code, the more expensive your Premier Agent status may be.
Here are some of the other features included in the Premier Agent program:
If you end up in the top three ranked agents in a ZIP code, you’ll also get additional exposure from Zillow’s Agent Finder.
Note: Zillow Premier Agents also get advertising exposure on other Zillow Group websites such as Trulia and StreetEasy.
If you have an airtight lead management system in place, the Premier Agent program can be a great way to generate more leads and revenue for your real estate business. But to really make it worth it, you’ll need to closely monitor your conversion rates, expenses, and return on investment.
Our advice? Before you pay to become a Zillow Premier Agent, take a minute to make sure your lead management system is well-oiled and fully positioned to handle incoming Zillow leads for optimal ROI.
When Zillow leads find you through a property listing or via Zillow’s agent directory, the first thing they’ll do is study your profile.
To capture as many leads as possible, here are the key components to optimize in your Zillow profile:
Baltimore based Ron Howard & Associates have over 800 reviews on Zillow.
Back in 2018, Ron shared his step-by-step process for how he and his team hacked their way to the top of Zillow, by simply prioritizing reviews.
“We get multiple calls a day from our Zillow reviews. It creates the authority and the social proof to help people make decisions before they really get to know you,” says Ron. “People competing in our market have around 200 reviews so to have 700+ it’s just like… boom.”
The way he sees it, leveraging Zillow reviews is helping the customer make decisions in a way that feels easy and familiar—similar to how they would view a product on Amazon or any other ecommerce site.
And Ron’s process for collecting Zillow reviews is surprisingly simple.
Source: Zillow Help Center
We’ve now covered all the baseline techniques to help you attract and manage Zillow leads.
But how do you respond when a lead actually reaches out through Zillow?
This is the make-or-break moment that separates the agents who bemoan Zillow from the agents who own Zillow.
If you really want to win, there are two additional steps you’ll need to take in order to squeeze every last drop of ROI out of Zillow.
There’s no two ways about it. Your success in converting Zillow leads will largely depend on how capable your lead management system is.
In Follow Up Boss, we have several automated Action Plans designed to convert Zillow leads on autopilot. You can also view detailed analytics on how your Zillow leads are converting and Smart Lists to prioritize lead based on buying timeline and ensure no lead slips through the cracks.
Once you start gaining momentum on Zillow, you may need another agent or ISA to jump in and help keep the conversions flowing.
But how do you redirect your Zillow leads?
This is surprisingly simple with the right system. When a Zillow lead is delivered to Follow Up Boss, you can use your standard lead routing or create custom rules for how they should be handled. Or, you can also opt to default to Zillow’s Premier Agent built-in routing. In this case, the assigned agent will sync over to Follow Up Boss instantly.
Here’s how to redirect leads using Zillow's built-in routing:
Alternatively, once a Zillow lead is synced into Follow Up Boss, all you need to do is automatically run an Action Plan with the initial text messages, calls, emails and more. Follow Up Boss recognizes all standard Zillow lead types and tags (including Offers, Flex and phone connections).
You can trigger the same routing rules and action plans for every Zillow lead, or set up custom workflows for different kinds of leads. It’s all up to you.
Even though Zillow is the biggest real estate website in the world right now, it’s not the only option to generate high-quality leads for your business. And it shouldn’t be.
Many real estate agents enjoy awesome results through Realtor.com, Facebook ads, Google AdWords, and local organic search optimization.
Bottom line? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Instead, strive to create as many diversified lead sources as you can. This will allow you to gauge how well every source performs and invest more money where you’ll get more return.
And if you’re looking for an open lead conversion platform that integrates with all the most popular and profitable lead sources on the market, give Follow Up Boss a try.
Our easy-to-use platform offers advanced follow up systems, smart automation, and state-of-the-art analytics—all designed to help you make the most out of every lead, regardless of where it came from.