More Americans search “Zillow” on Google than “real estate” or “realtor.” Zillow.com is by far the largest real estate website in the US. It’s the go-to resources for more than 70 million buyers and sellers each month.
Zillow Premier Agent, the advertising platform used by Zillow (as well as Trulia) allows you to promote your listings AND connect with new clients. Our data shows that for every $1 you put into Zillow/Trulia, you can get around $2.60 back.
This article will cover the following topics:
- The cost of Zillow advertising and our estimated ROI
- Zillow Premier Agent: A Detailed Look
- How to maximize your success with Zillow advertising
If you want to follow along on a free agent account, you can sign up here on Zillow’s website.
What is Zillow Premier Agent?
Zillow Premier Agent is the advertising platform for Zillow and Trulia. While both sites allow you to post listings for free, becoming a premier agent has two major benefits:
- Exclusivity: On listings you submit to Zillow as the seller’s agent, you get to be the exclusive agent promoted on the page. This Increases your odds of capturing the full commission.
- Wider Reach: As a Zillow Premier Agent you also get to advertise on the local listings provided by non-zillow premier agents. This gives you the opportunity to connect with clients you’d be missing out on otherwise.
Since the Zillow/Trulia merger, ads are now spread out across both sites. Agents who used to advertise through Trulia have been converted to Premier Agents. Meanwhile, agents who used to advertise exclusively through Zillow now are visible through Trulia as well.
How Much Does Zillow Premier Agent Cost & What Is The ROI?
We estimate that for every $1 put into Zillow, agents get about $2.60 back (before broker cuts). This data is based on conversations we had with typical Zillow advertisers: Experienced users who have complete profiles with positive reviews, but aren’t exactly the “power hitters.”
On average, the agents we spoke with spent about $2,300 in advertising for each sale closed through Zillow. With a median home price of $220,000 and a 3% commission, that means a payout of $6,600 per sale.
How does Zillow charge agents?
Zillow charges based on impressions, or views of your ad. The cost per impression varies widely depending on your zip code (and the value of homes in your market.) You may pay anywhere from 2 cents to 30 cents or even higher. For this example, we’ll use a typical bill of about 20 cents per impression.
Let’s say it takes 500 impressions before a lead actually clicks on your name and sends you a message. That would make the cost per lead about $100.
Next, let’s say your conversion rate between lead and transaction (completing a sale or purchase) is somewhere between 4 and 5 percent. This means you would pay roughly $2000 to $2500 for each deal that is closed.
Bear in mind, the two biggest variables here are your zip code(s) and your conversion rate. The more upscale the zip code, the higher the cost per impression. For example, one agent reported spending 30 cents per impression in Westchester County, NY, one of the richest in the country. By contrast, an agent in Lansing, MI spent just 2 cents per impression.
The second variable, conversion rate, can be improved tremendously by following advice we heard from agents: Complete your profile, acquire positive reviews and respond quickly and regularly to leads. We’ll explain how to boost your Zillow ROI in more detail further below.
How much does a typical agent spend on Zillow Premier Agent?
According to the latest data available from Zillow, the average Premier Agent bill is $438/month. Agents can pay as low as $350, however, or as high as $10,000 or more per month.
Zillow Premier Agent: A Detailed Look
The first key concept to grasp is how Zillow Premier Agent differs from a free Zillow account:
As a free user, you can submit new rental and sales listings to Zillow. You can also “claim” listings you created that were uploaded to Zillow straight from your MLS. What this does is place your contact information in the upper right corner of the listings page. However, as a free user, as many as 3 other buyer’s agents will also appear on the list.
As a Zillow Premier Agent, your name will appear exclusively on your listings. Thus, when a buyer encounters your listing from Zillow or Trulia, you have a much greater chance of receiving their inquiry and earning the full commission.
For an additional cost, Zillow Premier Agents can also advertise on the listings of other agents (those who are free users). You can choose which zip codes you want to advertise in and set your own budget. The key benefit here is you can find more leads in your local area.
Zillow & Trulia: What has changed since the merger?
In 2015, Zillow and Trulia advertising accounts merged. Agents now have the same profiles on both sites. Customer reviews, likewise, have been combined, although many Trulia reviews were deleted because of Zillow’s stricter review criteria.
According to Zillow’s website, ads will now appear across both websites and mobile apps. Agents will no longer have the option of advertising on just one website or the other. Also, both websites are now served by the Zillow Premier Agent program. Trulia no longer has a unique advertising platform.
While the two websites are similar in many ways, they continue to have a distinct layout and user base. Many consumers who preferred Trulia before the merger have continued using it, just as those who preferred Zillow have stayed loyal.
Also, although Zillow and Trulia are using some of the same data sources, I found both websites to have unique listings. As you can see from the image above, some listings appear on one website but not the other.
Zillow & Trulia: New Team Features
Zillow also released a batch of updates in Spring 2016. These updates were aimed at improving the user experience for real estate teams. In particular, there were 3 big features added (fully rolled out by May 2016):
- Team Profiles. In addition to individual profiles, Zillow now lets you create team profiles for your entire agency. The team profile aggregates everybody’s reviews, current listings and lets you write a separate group bio.
- Lead Routing. When a lead comes in via email, you can have it automatically assigned to members of your team based on 2 different variables: Home value, or the location. This let’s you assign your more valuable leads to experienced team members. Or, assign each team member a neighborhood/region.
- Phone Lead Broadcast. Zillow posts your phone number next to your name on Premier Agent ads. A new tool allows you to route this phone number to call each of your agents in sequence. This prevents the lead from going to voicemail and losing interest. (This can also be setup using Auto Attendant Software.)
What are Zillow Real Estate Agent Websites?
Real Estate Agent Websites are an additional feature available free to Zillow Premier Agents (otherwise $10/month). You get a simple, customizable realty website with a custom domain. Zillow offers “widgets” you can choose from to add to your website. Among these are an IDX tool that lets visitors search your local MLS, a mortgage calculator, and a blog. There’s also pre-written “community pages” that discuss local events, nearby schools, neighborhood walk scores, and more.
To read more about Zillow agent websites, check out our comparison of Zillow, Placester and Websitebox.
How To Maximize The Success Of Zillow Premier Agent Advertising
Zillow charges for advertising based on the number of people that see your advertisement and the zip code in which your advertising appears. In other words, the agent is paying for the opportunity to generate more leads.
So how can you improve your ROI on Zillow? By getting more people to click on your ad and by converting more leads who contact you, you can make more money without spending more on advertising. There’s a few very basic rules that Zillow agents often miss. By getting these basics down, you will be miles ahead of other Zillow users:
1. Treat your agent profile like a dating profile.
It sounds silly, but your Zillow profile, (including your picture, bio and reviews) makes a strong impression on potential clients. Zillow visitors have the option of contacting many different agents in your area. Consciously or not, they’ll choose the agent who seems like they’ll provide the best service.
To improve your Zillow profile (and thus your chances of getting contacted), follow these tips:
- Upload a great looking photo. This will appear fairly small on your Zillow page, so make sure you choose a photo that looks good in a small size.
- Write a unique bio. Have you lived in the area for many years? Do you write for a local paper or volunteer at an organization? Do you have any specialties as an agent – say, condos, rehabbed lofts, starter homes, beachside mansions, etc. Your bio should highlight your expertise of the local area. It should also explain the unique offerings that makes your realty service better than the competition.
- Get a 5-star rating. If you were a potential buyer, would you chose an agent that has two stars or the maximum of fives stars? To start with a strong rating, identify 5-10 former clients that had great experiences working with you and personally contact them to ask for a review. Zillow makes it easy for your clients to write a review by providing a dedicated link. For more tips on building reviews, check out our full guide here.
2. Follow up Immediately
Zillow visitors will often contact multiple agents in a sitting, so it’s important to respond right away and beat out the competition. Many Zillow agents will use an auto-responder that sends a pre-written email or text as soon as the lead comes in. This is a short message that introduces you to the prospect and asks to setup an appointment:
“Hi, thank you for reaching out. I’ll be available shortly to touch-base. What’s the best way to reach you?”
Zillow does not have an auto-responder built-in, however, so you have to set up a 3rd party program like Five Street.
It’s also a good idea to send a personalized message as soon as you can. These days, consumers can recognize when a robot is talking to them – especially when the message comes minutes after they fill out a form. Realtor Mark Ferguson at InvestFourMore recommends writing a message shortly after that demonstrates your knowledge and attentiveness. Comment on the property they’re interested in and point out similar listings. Ask them questions to further understand their preferences and to encourage a response.
3. Keep in Touch
Zillow visitors can be anywhere on the purchasing timeline. They can be curiously glancing or ready to purchase within a week. Most, however, are within the early stages: At least a few months away from purchasing a home.
What does this mean for Zillow agents? You need to have patience in order to convert buyers. Michael Kalczewski, a successful Zillow Realtor from Brandywine Fine Properties, recommends communicating with leads regularly: Send them updates of new listings, or provide them with data about local schools or local property value over time.
This is especially important in the first couple weeks when your prospect is likely talking with multiple agents. By providing the most valuable information and personalized service, you’ll place yourself ahead of the other agents.
If follow-up is an area where you struggle, you may want to try using software to help you keep on track. Zurple is a fully automated system that tracks what your Zillow leads are browsing for and sends them listing updates, offers to show properties, local area reports and more. To read more about Zurple, check out our full guide here.
The Bottom Line
As the largest real estate network on the internet, Zillow.com is the place to be. Whether you want to promote your own listings or find more leads as a buying agent, Premier Agent gives you the flexibility to advertise with whatever budget is within your means. Just remember – the more work you put into your profile, building reviews & managing follow up, the more you’ll get out of Zillow Premier Agent. Follow our pro insider tips and you’ll be well on your way to closing deals through Zillow.