Does Zillow.com get results? A question no one seems able to answer

By
Real Estate Agent with MVP Realty Associates FL #SL3274194

Does Zillow.com deliver results? It's a question that no one seems able to answer

Zillow.com may deliver results -- or it may not deliver results. Just don't ask Zillow about results

I'm advertising on Trulia.com and getting reasonably good results, which, frankly, is a pleasant surprise given the feedback I've heard from other agents. I've been around long enough to know that advertising is a lot like joining a health club -- if you don't show up consistently you aren't likely to get good results. So...I thought I might spread out a bit more to see if I can generate a similar number of leads with the addition of Zillow.

Here's is when things become, shall we say, interesting. I call the Zillow.com toll-free number and speak to a sales rep. He makes certain to get my name (he obviously has my number via caller ID) but he doesn't tell me anything about his marketing credentials or his experience in creating ad campaigns that have gotten good results for other agents. Then he commits the mortal sin of selling anything: he doesn't ask me about my needs nor about my expectations. It becomes obvious that his boss told him to write some business in a hurry (what sales manager doesn't regularly issue such edicts) and he's headed straight for my wallet before he knows anything about me. Of course, he did ask, presumably in accordance with the telemarketing script, "How did you hear about Zillow?" to which I reply "I'm a Realtor® and you claim to be the most visited real estate site on the Web; and you're wondering how I heard about you?"

He proceeds to reiterate how Zillow.com has the most traffic of any RE website. I think "Who cares? I'm interested in results." I tell him such and he proceeds to tell me that the zip code I cite as my target area is "one hundred percent available" and hits me with a monthly rate based upon an annual agreement. I'm now thinking if Zillow.com is so darn popular, why aren't other agents buying that particular zip code, which features three huge subdivisions with thriving sales of new builds as well as resales. But I don't say that. Instead I ask how long I have to commit to a campaign. He says a year. I tell him that isn't going to happen and he has to offer something better to earn my business. He says there are 22,000 unique visitors coming to Zillow.com who are interested in that zip code and he can "...virtually guarantee [I'll] get great results." I ask if he'll put his "virtual guarantee" in writing and he says he can't do that. I guess his reference to a guarantee is, in polite terms, hyperbole. My mother would have called it lying. I then ask if there is a shorter time commitment and he says, yes, there's a six month contract but the discount isn't as large. By this time it's becoming clear that this individual has no clue as to what he's doing other than spouting meaningless statistics and offering no solution to the challenge I've posed. So, I come to the point and suggest that any advertising medium that requires a six-month commitment has no faith in the results it can (allegedly) deliver. He blathers on with more meaningless claims and statistics -- none of which he (or anyone else) can certify because, as we all know, there are a whole lot of tire-kickers on the web who are counted as visitors but are really just the human equivalent of gnats. He then proceeds to tell me that getting results takes time (a common theme amongst all ad salespeople.) I counter with the fact that before my RE career I spent 13 years in the digital space and another 20 years prior to that in broadcasting. I know about advertising. One thing I can state with absolute certainty is that a digital campaign will show results very quickly. When it doesn't, either the creative has to be tweaked or the medium is a dud. 

I was pretty much finished with any chance of spending money with Zillow and told the sales rep just that. He ignored my statement and launched back into his sales pitch -- so I hung up the phone. Ten minutes later, the same sales rep from Zillow calls. He wants to talk about advertising. Talk about chutzpah! i tell him my position hasn't changed in the past ten minutes and it's unlikely that it will ever change. He cites the 70,000 other agents that might get over on me if I'm not advertising on Zillow. So I say, "Great...go pitch one of them and stop wasting my time." He says "Hey, you called me" to which I reply "Yes, I did but you are not offering anything of value so I'm just not interested." He says "So you just called to challenge us?" At that point, I realize this guy is all balls and no brains so i him adieu.

Now, maybe I'm wrong about all this. Maybe Zillow has so much demand that they can only accommodate six-month or longer contracts. Maybe Zillow delivers such terrific results that agents are lined up to advertise on the site. Maybe...but I doubt it.

 

 

Posted by

 

 
BC Cloutier, REALTOR®
The BC Team at MVP Realty Associates
11983 Tamiami Trail North
Naples, FL 34110
239-595-1300
Live Your Dream with the BC Team!

Comments (39)

Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

My zip code is all sold out. Interestingly, these agents must not be cultivating the leads because they have no sales history in a zip code they are paying for. I want results. These agents aren't getting results so why would I. I know this probably depends upon the agent. Instead, I've spent more money on a website and I'm driving traffic to that. At least, if the leads don't pay off, I still have a nice product to show for my money.

Jun 27, 2013 11:38 AM
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
The comments are very interesting on this post. J. Phillip and Tammy's responses caught my attention the most.
Jun 27, 2013 11:44 AM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

My concern is that many companies now have agreements with zillow that all the leads go to the listing agent.  So, it really diminishes the ability of any agent to get leads in a particular zip code if such an agreement is in place.

Jun 27, 2013 11:55 AM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Zillow works very well when you have listings, as you are the only agent on the page if they click on yours. I am working with a buyer who contacted me on one that closed yesterday, but we are looking at other places. Sharon

Jun 27, 2013 01:14 PM
Judy Hudek
Realty ONE Group - Scottsdale, AZ
Your Professional Realtor

Great reading everyone's comments.  I worked with Trulia...not much happened.  I am currently signed on with Zillow (6 mo. contract) and seem to get some leads but so far nothing much.  There is a HUGE push to get referrals - and if you don't have referrals then you look like a newbie.  But for your referral to "count" you have to have your client register/log on and post.  So I am waiting for clients to do that but since I asked them to give me the referral for Trulia - I really hate to bug them again!  But this nice salesperson from Homes.com pointed out that Zillow puts you head to head with another agent on their ad page - something that was "left out" of the marketing sales push!!!  So it seems like every time I look at my zip codes I am posted next to an agent with 4 "stars".  Grrrrrr......

So before you sign on ask about referrals and maybe plan on making that longer term commitment so that you only have to ask for that referral ONCE!

Jun 27, 2013 02:23 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Zillow does have a reach for sure - and for me, personally, Zillow has given me results - so if I say Zillow does not work, it won't be correct. The most important aspect of any Internet lead is - quick response! And Zillow does provide many tools to do so. Once the lead is landed in an agent's lap - it's up to the agent to make it or forget it! Blaming Zillow for not converting lead is not right.

Jun 27, 2013 03:39 PM
David Shamansky
US Mortgages - David Shamansky - Highlands Ranch, CO
Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg

Well let me ask you this... how accurate are they in their Zestimates? not very right?

now that alone does not mean the kiss of death but while they may get a lot of traffic what is the quality of that traffic and do those visitors turn into leads? Don't know for sure but my guess would be minimal at best

Jun 27, 2013 03:54 PM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

They call me all the time but I'm still not interested. Zillow rep leaves me this kind of message: 'I see you are quite active on Trulia, I'd like to offer you a life opportunity on Zillow, bluh bluh.." Well, Trulia does work very well for me and I pay 0$ for it:)

Jun 27, 2013 04:46 PM
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

I have to see something in writing that proves agents are getting leads and converting those leads. I signed up for market leader for a 6 month contract, which was very expensive and didn't do anything for me. I had better response with listing book which is only $10 month. I find the third-party sites give circular arguments for why you should sign up with them. I need proof! They can't deliver it. buh bye. Thanks for your post and best of luck,

Jun 27, 2013 06:37 PM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Sounds like a more guts than brains sales approach...the annoying reports on each listing that I would go look for rather than have anoyingly delivered with no visible way to stop them has stopped us from even investigating any advertising opportunity.

Jun 27, 2013 08:49 PM
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA
LandlordWhisperer

Terri outlines something that I have found for several years...CRAIGSLIST is FREE and it is AWESOME...also, a FAST response is the key and Trulia and Zillow have too many steps for most rental prospects to deal with...they want answers NOW

Jun 27, 2013 09:15 PM
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I learned a lot from the comments to the post. Thanks for the post.

Jun 27, 2013 09:17 PM
Dee Toohey
Innovative Realty Solutions Group - Longwood, FL
Broker, ABR, AHWD, CIPS, FMS, ePro

One of my agents got tons of leads from Zillow and none of them converted to a sale.  She stuck with it for 2 years before giving it up.  I have tried others but not Zillow.  I've never been successful with these kind of leads.  The issue seems to be that the prospects sign up with every service out there and they are fickle. 

It was interesting reading all the other comments.

Jun 27, 2013 10:00 PM
Elva Branson-Lee
Solid Source Realty GA - Atlanta, GA
CDPE - Atlanta Real Estate & Short Sale Agent

Interesting, informative post and comments. Reinforces my decision to not sign a contract for expensive aggregator advertising. Did it once with realtor.com when I was a newbie...never again.

Jun 27, 2013 10:02 PM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

I use listingstoleads.com to generate a mulitmedia tour that you upload to Zillow and Trulia and when they click on the "virtual tour" link, it takes them out of Z and T and onto my landing page with 8 possible squeeze pages to capture the lead. All it cost is the subscirption to L2L

Jun 27, 2013 11:08 PM
Scott Fogleman
New Home Team 804-573-9592 - Richmond, VA
Greater Good Group

BC- I cantstand those types of phone calls. I use Zillow and have hadmixed results. I had a lady fromTrulia call me once.. At first her pitch was good but when i had to think about it.. she tried to slamdunk me..big turnoff for me..

Jun 28, 2013 05:00 AM
Leslie Ebersole
Swanepoel T3 Group - Saint Charles, IL
I help brokers build businesses they love.

Someone tell the BC Team who posted this that their post was featured and got comments.

First rule of all marketing, including social media, is to respond to people who talk to you online. On AR authors respond back in the comment stream. Ironic that the Zillow sales person is being held to a higher standard of credibility and responsiveness.

Jun 29, 2013 03:18 AM
BC Cloutier
MVP Realty Associates - Naples, FL
The BC Team
@Leslie, not sure of what you're trying to say. Care to elucidate or we're you just hoping for your 15 mins when you posted your comment?
Jun 29, 2013 06:09 AM
Nancy Milton Holtzscher
RE/MAX Alliance in St.Louis' Illinois suburbs - Edwardsville, IL
Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, Illinois Broker, REALTOR

I don't dislike Zillow, per se, but I always ask them when they call why I can't simply sign up for their ad programs onlne. I find it ironic that an Internet company forces me to talk to them on the phone to participate. 

Jun 29, 2013 01:54 PM
Debbie Cook
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Silver Spring, MD
Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate

I was using trulia for 2 1/2 years, can not attribute ONE client coming from trulia in the entire time I used it.  When zillow and or trulia call, I usually disconnect.

Jun 30, 2013 10:34 PM