REALTORS Who Respect Zillow Earn Public Trust

REALTORS, please stop resisting Zillow. They have the trust of the public. Zillow has the power they have because they figured out how to involve the consumer at the REALTOR expense.  Embrace Zillow the way the public does.

Embrace The Zestimate—It’s Your Opening

Given this choice as a customer, who are you more likely to trust and engage in a conversation: (1) The person who tells you you’re wrong, you’re making a mistake, and you’re in danger. (2) The person who compliments you in being proactive, smart, informed, and wise. Number 2 of course. When people recognize our intelligence and wisdom, our opinion of them goes up. Still, when allowed to engage in a real estate conversation when Zillow is the topic, agents tend to go straight to the party line with flawed criticism. Opportunity Lost!¬†

The wise REALTORs know everything Zillow wants them to know about Zestimates. And they want you to know: Zillow knows the Zestimate is not as accurate as you can be.  Here it is in their own words:  It is not an appraisal and it should be used as a starting point. We encourage buyers, sellers and homeowners to supplement the Zestimate with other research such as visiting the home, getting a professional appraisal of the home, or requesting a comparative market analysis (CMA) from a real estate agent.

https://www.zillow.com/zestimate/ This link takes you to Zillow’s stats for Zestimate accuracy by State. In Wisconsin, Zillow tells us up front, they are accurate within 5% of the sales price 82% of the time. Do you know what they call REALTORS who estimate a home’s value within 5% accuracy 82% of the time? Ex REALTORS. For those who point out Zillow reports that they are within 20% of the correct price, 99% of the time, consider what that means. Zillow will be wrong in every opinion. And the error could be up to 20% of the value. (A $400,000 home with a 20% error is off by $80,000.) 

Consumers Like Opinions that support theirs

Some consumers will look at an explanation of analytics after they see or hear an opinion. But that takes work. A typical consumer looks at their Zestimate and their City Assessment and decides if the number is right or wrong based on how they want the number to factor into a formula. Show me one homeowner who’s Zestimate is higher than their assessment to go into the City and demand their property tax bill to be increased. Should that Zestimate be lower than the assessment, I’m sure the assessor will soon be seeing the Zestimate as evidence. 

Never Right or Wrong…Just a Start

The Zestimate and the consumer are never necessarily right or wrong. The number is a product of analytics but the analytics still require your input. The consumer who begins with Zillow is smart. Being informed is always better than being at the mercy of someone who has an opinion. 

Attempting to undermine Zillow is futile. REALTORS who try only undermine their credibility and that of other real estate professionals. Those REALTORS who learn how Zillow works, why Zillow works, and align themselves on the public’s side with respect to Zillow will be the REALTOR of choice for people who like to be respected. It’s far easier to work with people who respect you, trust you, appreciate you for not criticizing them.   

The diminishing value of real estate advertising.

In 1989 a prospective homeowner started their home search by scanning their local newspaper’s real estate section. A large real estate firm with multiple hundreds of listings presented maybe 20% of all listings in their newspaper ad. Achieving name awareness and making the phone ring was the purpose of the Sunday ad. Firms monitored the results by keeping track of incoming calls generated by the advertisement, appointments made from those calls, homes showed, offers written, and listings procured.  

Advertise to Sell Any House

The Sunday real estate page had a ready audience of home sellers looking to find their home in the limited ad space. New listings had priority. After week one, a home fell into the rotation schedule. Selling a particular house was not the objective of the firm. Making the phone ring was. Real estate advertising was more likely to attract buyers who might buy any house or a seller who might have a similar home to sell. The homebuyer had a slim chance of finding the home they would own in the newspaper. Connecting with a real estate agent with access to the secret Multiple Listing Service inventory of homes was necessary to get into the actual pool of homes for sale. And then you still might be force-fed the firm’s listings before you got to look at properties listed by other firms. 

Zillow.com – Realtor.com. – Homes.com – etc.com

As the World Wide Web grew, REALTORS had the opportunity to solidify their place as the first or early point of contact in the home buying and selling process. Associations and committees don’t move as quickly or deliberately as private businesses. If changing long-held beliefs is required to take advantage of an opportunity, the opportunity will go to someone else. The dot-coms were someone else. Hellow Zillow

Online Is The Go-to Place To Find a House

The National Association of REALTORS released its 2019 study of home buying trends. Fortyfour percent of homebuyers told the association that they started their search online. (Some other statistics put the number at 88-90%.)  Zillow has a study that might contradict or support the NAR results. 

The Cost Of Advertising/Marketing and Real Estate Commissions

Associations, slow to change, are likely to apply old ideas to new methods. Mass marketing was and is the type of marketing real estate firms are most familiar with. Marketing to make the phone ring is now purchased to find leads. Revenue minus expenses = profit. When a firm spend money on internet marketing or newspaper advertising they have an expense. To make a profit revenue has to exceed expenses by a considerable margin. The cost or real estate service is in the commission charged by the firm. A more efficient way to connect buyers and sellers could result in lower selling fees for home sellers and lower acquisition costs for the buyer.

It’s possible to match specific homes to people who are the best candidates to be the next owner. Consider this: a dozen REALTORS will know a dozen people who might like a home new to the market. Those 12 will be alerted to see the house. Maybe 4 of those folks will arrange a showing. The technology exists for a computer to identify those 12 and more, and then cut the pool of prospects down to the one or two people most motivated to buy that house right now. Analytics uncovering the buyer before the person knows they are the buyer is creepy. But it’s possible. Now.

If it’s true that home owners want to sell homes in the least amount of time, for the most amount of money, and least inconvenience, analytics are the means to the end. I believe Zillow has all the information they need to identify from their pool of registered home buyers, the next owner of your home. Is that worth paying for?

Two Sides of Zillow

Realtors are on the side opposed to Zillow. The peculiar thing is, most have no idea why they fear Zillow.

The public embraced Zillow and Zillow gave the public liberty. Is that a pure example of a free-market success story? If you’re the consumer you know it is. The consumer is on Zillow’s side.

REALTORS were brought up in the cyber world to resent Zillow. The REALTORS had the first opportunity to be Zillow but they couldn’t comprehend a world where the public had access to information and where 1975 was no longer the future. They did what large associations are best at doing. They walked away and went home.

If the public wants something, you’re the biggest controller of that something and you don’t find a way to make money off of your stuff, you have no one to blame but yourself. Zillow knew what the Realtors must have known, if the Realtors were sharing their data with members, join them. Zillow aligned itself with Realtors, walked in, took what was free to them, gave it to the consumer and turned around and sold data to the Realtors…this is the data the realtors had but never mined.

I love Zillow. I love informed consumers. I love the fact that a potential client has access to the same information as me so they can do their research and maybe come to the same conclusion as me. Even more than that, I love Zillow for the opportunity they created for independent contractors to provide their brand of service to the consumer who wants what they have. More individuals are free to leave corporate ownership with their arcane rules and hefty fees. Zillow has given the independent REALTOR the liberty they desired. I’m on Zillow’s side right next to the consumer. Realtors are on the side opposed to Zillow. The peculiar thing is, most Realtors don’t know why they fear Zillow.