This is a great overview of how RE Pros can use Zillow to their advantage (written by my colleague Sara Bonert):
Awhile ago I wrote a post citing 10 things you could do on Zillow. Not only has our traffic ballooned to 8 million monthly users since then, the opportunities to interact with audience have gotten richer as well. So here is an updated version 2.0 of this list, written to help you best use the site to gain incremental business along with highlighting some cool tools available on Zillow.
1) Create a free profile - Participating on Zillow all begins with the creation of a profile, which links to everything you do on the site. To get started, click "Register" in the upper right hand corner and walk thru the steps. If your Brokerage or a syndication site is feeding listings on your behalf, be sure to register using the same email address as they have on record for you. We use the email address to match listings to profiles. Be sure to include: your photo, all contact information, marketing text with unlimited links back into your website, geographic areas you work, and professional areas of specialization. For more detailed information on creating a profile, visit this tutorial, How To Build A Free Profile On Zillow.
2) Professional Directory - Once you have a profile, you are automatically in the Directory. This is why is it important to write marketing text with rich keywords, and to include you geographic and professional areas of specialization. These are keywords that consumers can search by when looking for a real estate professional.
3) Zillow Advice - This is an interactive forum where anyone can ask and answer a questions and is a great place to soft sell yourself leveraging your expertise. Your responses will be posted to the site, along with a link back to your profile. You are free to browse all the topics and discussions constantly be added to the site. But to work the most efficiently you can subscribe to be alerted via email whenever a question about a topic or geographic area you designated in added. Simply go to Zillow Advice, type in a topic such as "short sales" or "Chicago". At the top of the search results, click the link "Get Email Alerts". Please visit this tutorial if you would like more information on setting alerts.
• Tip - This is a bad answer: "Now is a great time to buy, call me and I'll tell you why". Not only will people totally overlook your answer, but responding this way may actually backfire causing people to say negative things about such an uninformative, hard sell. This is a better answer "In Wicker Park we are seeing annualized returns of 3%, however compare this to a 10 year return of 19%. But each street in Wicker Park is different. If you let me know what street you are on, I can customize this information even further to show you returns people have experienced on your particular street. The hard sell is dead with social media.
4) Post Listings - If you just have a few listings, you can submit listings to the site for free manually. The easiest way to do this is to search for the address, then click "Tell Us Its For Sale" in the left hand column. If you have over 200 listings, you may want to consider setting up an XML feed, find out more about how to do this at www.ZillowFeeds.com. Also, we work with a number of listing syndication services, so if you are using sites like Postlets, Vflyer, Listhub or Point2, your listings are appearing on Zillow. On each listings you can have up to 50 photos, so if the service you are using doesn't send that many photos, you can log on to the site and add them.
5) Widgets - Want to make your site content richer with spending a dime, then add a widget! You don't need programming knowledge to do this. Simply visit this page, click on the widget you'd like install, scroll to the bottom of the page to copy the code, and paste it into the appropiate area of your site. (good tutorial on how to add widgets on Active Rain). Some of own most popular widgets are: Mortgage Rates, Payment Calculators, and Local Home Value Trends. See the side of this blog for examples of what these look like.
6) Local Home Value Reports - Zillow has about 80 million homes on the site, of which we are constantly monitoring the valuation trends. Each quarter we aggregate all this data to provide national, metro, and very local trend reports for approximately 160 metropolian areas in the US. One on the things that make these reports unique is that we are using data from ALL homes on the site, not just the ones that are on the market or have recently sold. If you are into data methodology, here is a post about how the methodlogy of these reports compare to Case Schiller or OFHEO. On these reports we track how homes in the country performed, down to how homes performed in a particular ZIP- with a 3 month, 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year perspective.
7) Zillow Mortgage Marketplace - As Real Estate Agents, this area won't help you sell houses, but it may help move the transaction along. If you are a Lender, sign up for this incredible lead source that is earing Lenders business daily How Zillow's mortgage is different - A finanace shopper goes online and fills out information about their situation (loan product desired, credit and financial info), with the exception that they don't provide their name or contact information. Then registered Lenders give customized quotes. The consumer then comes back to Zillow, reviews the quotes, and is in the driver's seat as to who they would like to contact for further information. Zillow also aggregates all the quotes that are consistantly being made, creating real time charts of the type of rates people are actually being quoted.
8) Featured Lisitngs - There is so much you can do for free on Zillow, then how do we make money? By offering those who want to stand out of the site even more, the chance to buy advertising. Think about the last time you did a search on Google, you probably clicked on something on the first page (verses the page 3 or 4). Promote your listings to the first page of Zillow search results by Featuring them. Featured listings typically receive about 500x more traffic than regular listings. The cost runs about $10/month/listing. To find out more, call (866) 324-4005.
9) Showcase Ads - These are ZIP code targeted ads, in which you can promote yourself or your listings, editable at any time throughout the month. There are two ads on each page in the right hand column. Within these two spaces, you can purchase 25, 50, 75, or 100% of the inventory of available impressions - depending on your budget. Cost varies by the amount of traffic available in your ZIP code. You can create your ad and find out the cost by visiting this Advertisers section of the site. These ads link where ever you dictate.
• Tip - While advertising yourself can have branding effects, typically ads of listings experience better click thru rates - or direct more traffic to your site. Use strong Calls To Action on the ads. For example: Open House this weekend, Just Listed, Foreclosure Situation, Builder Incentives, Recently Price Reduced, Live In "hot neighborhood". Then change the ads out as the situation warrants. We are seeing that the more information you include in the ad (price, neighborhood, beds, baths) the BETTER the click thru rate. Also, this is obvious, but make sure you use a GREAT picture.
10) Accuracy Chart - Ever hear the question from buyers and sellers, "But Zillow said.."? Using the Accuracy Chart posted online, specific to each County in the US, you'll be able to answer this question by saying "Zillow also says they have an err rate of X% in our County, and are within 5% of a home's sale price x% of the time, 10% of the time they are within X%, and 20% of the time they are within X%. This is a great tool to use, along with the customization information that you prepare for your clients. For more information on the topic of Zestimates, please visit this post "How Accurate Are Zillow Zestimates?".
You can find links to all these things, plus more, at www.ZillowPros.com.