Zillow is the largest real estate search engine on the internet, providing an effective platform for real estate agents to advertise and reach potential leads. With over 160 million visitors per month, Zillow provides big opportunities for agents, but we’ll show you if it’s worth the cost.
Zillow has revolutionized the real estate game, so being a part of that platform meaningfully is where the action is. Becoming a Zillow Premier Agent is no longer an optional venture, but an essential part of building your business. We estimate that for every $1 you put into Zillow Premier Agent, you get approximately $2.60 back in commissions.
How Zillow Premier Agent Works
Zillow Premier Agent is Zillow’s advertising platform for real estate agents that gives both exclusivity and exposure, connecting you to buying and selling clients. While Zillow allows real estate agents to utilize limited free functions, Zillow Premier Agents can get incredible advantages from the service.
While Zillow allows you to post listings for free, and build an agent profile that can attract potential clients, 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, which increases your odds of getting the full commission. If you don’t sign up for Zillow Premier Agent, other agents will appear on your listing.
- Wider Reach. As a Zillow Premier Agent, you also get to advertise on the local listings provided by non-Zillow Premier Agents. This is a great way to generate buyer leads even if you don’t have a listing of your own to advertise on Zillow.
Zillow Premier Agent Appearance Examples
There are two ways you can appear on Zillow with listings, depending on whether you are a Zillow Premier Agent or not. Below are examples of how you will appear to potential clients as they are searching listings.
In the image below, the listing agent is not a Zillow Premier Agent. Note that her profile is listed first and labeled “Listing Agent” on the sidebar of the listing, but there are three other agents listed below her. This occurs because the three other agents are Zillow Premier Agents, and the listing agent is not. That means some leads will contact the listing agent, and some will likely contact the other Premier Agents in the sidebar.
Those Premier agents now have an improved chance of landing a client with a $70 million budget and receiving part of that commission. While multi-million dollar listings may not be common where you work, the benefit of being a premier agent is an obvious one.
To see the difference, here is a listing where the listing agent is a Zillow Premier Agent.
What is important to note is that if you’re a Zillow Premier Agent, and you’ve got a listing, you have exclusive access to all leads. Note how, unlike the above example, there are no other agents listed in the sidebar. The only agent listed here is the listing agent, which means leads will only be able to call or email the listing agent.
How Much Zillow Premier Agent Costs
Like all real estate portals, Zillow is free to use for home buyers and sellers. It also offers basic free services for real estate agents, MLSs, and brokerages to post their listings on the site. Zillow makes money through Zillow Premier Agent, and by charging for advertising based on impressions, or views of your ad. The cost per impression ranges from two cents to 30 cents or higher, depending on your zip code.
Zillow charges agents based on two main factors.
- The zip code you wish to be featured in. The cost to advertise to different zip codes is the difference in home prices within those zip codes and the competition for these homes. For example, because homes sell for north of $5 million in Malibu, you’ll pay more to advertise there than you would in Charleston, South Carolina, where homes sell for an average of around $260,000.
- The number of times your ad is viewed (cost per impression or CPM, cost per 1,000 impressions). Zillow charges for impressions simply because the more people that view your ad, the greater likelihood that someone will contact you. More views on your ad result in a higher monthly cost, but also are likely to produce more leads.
In general, you should expect to pay from around $20 per thousand impressions (CPM) in a low-end market zip code to over $60 per thousand impressions in a high-end market zip code. Be aware that CPMs may vary from this in either direction depending on your market zip code and the competition there.
Sample Zillow Advertising Cost For Different Zip Codes
We spoke to a few agents to find out what they pay for Zillow Premier Agent. Below is a table summarizing the cost per thousand ad views (CPM) in their markets. While the table can serve as a good rule of thumb for Zillow Premier Agent pricing, pricing in your market will vary depending on the market and competition.
Hot = Seller's Market
Cold = Buyer's Market
|19808 - Wilmington DE|
|19806 - Wilmington, DE|
|19803 - Fairfax, DE|
|19707 - Hockessin DE|
|19807 - Wilmington DE|
|27870 - Roanoke Rapids, NC|
|27850 - Littleton, NC|
|27551 - Macon, NC|
|20878 - Gaithersburg, MD|
If you don’t see your area represented on the table, you can get an estimate of your costs by contacting a Zillow Premier Agent representative. Whether or not you sign up for the service, you can get up-to-date pricing for your zip code and rates for your area.
How to Calculate Your Zillow Costs
Zillow uses median listing prices and market competition to determine pricing in each zip code. Below is an example of how to calculate your costs.
In this example, we’ll examine a zip code where Zillow Premier Agent charges six cents per impression, so $60 CPM. On average, most agents will want to pay for at least 5,000 impressions per month, which is a monthly bill of $300 or $3,600 per year.
We can estimate it might take 500 impressions before a lead actually clicks on your name and sends you a message. How many impressions you would need before a lead may convert will depend upon what type of market you work in, and how many individuals are searching for properties in your area. If you were using the estimate above, for example, this means you would get about 10 leads a month, or 120 leads a year. At a $300 per month spend, this would equate to $30 per lead.
As we know, not all leads result in a transaction, so let’s examine the costs when considering conversion rates. We can estimate that the conversion rate between lead and transaction is somewhere between three and five percent. At the high end of 5%, you should be able to close six deals per year from using Zillow Premier Agent. At $3,600 per year, you only needed one or two closed deals to cover the expense of the service, so the rest of your closed deals are simply above and beyond your spend and a solid return on investment.
Here are some real-world examples of those using Zillow Premier Agent.
Agents Closing Leads through Zillow Premier Agent
Zillow Premier Agent will provide leads, many which have the potential to close. When using the premier agent platform, finding the right amount of spend that works for you and your farm area will be important as well as your ability to take advantage of the leads you get. As most agents will tell you, your success will only be as good as your lead nurturing and follow up.
Here are examples of two agents who are using leads from Zillow Premier Agent successfully.
Baton Rouge realtor and Zillow Premier Agent Darren James, one of Real Trend’s Top 250 Agents for 2015, told us that his team can attribute around 10% of their annual sales volume directly to Premier Agent.
“We spend around $3,000/month and receive 100-130 leads monthly from Zillow. In 2015, our total sales were 456 homes for gross sales of $75 million. Of these, we closed around 48 homes that we can directly attribute to Zillow leads. That’s more than 10% of our annual sales.”
Here is a breakdown of the numbers to see what the ROI from Zillow Premier Agent.
- Total Zillow spend: $36,000
- Number of leads: Approx. 1200
- Price per lead: Approx. $30
- Number of homes sold: 48
- Sales volume: $7.5 million
- GCI: $450,000
- Gross Income: $225,000
- ROI: +625% (Gross income / Total Zillow spend)
This is a good illustration of what a skilled team can get as a return with Zillow Premier Agent. Of course, since your local market, nurturing skills, and closing ratio are probably going to vary with every team, your ROI might vary also.
With a lower spend per month, it’s going to be much easier to see a return on your investment, but you will also get fewer leads for that money. For example, if you’re spending $300 per month, you might be able to cover your entire year of Zillow Premier Agent with one good deal.
Jessica Evans provides a glimpse into a realtor with a good ad and conversion strategy with Zillow Premier Agent in a very different market. The Washington, DC-based Evans, who was recently named one of Realtor.com’s “30 under 30,” works in a much more competitive market, with higher average prices.
Here is a breakdown of the numbers to see her ROI from Zillow Premier Agent.
- Total Zillow spend: $17,500
- Number of leads: Approx. 144
- Price per lead: Approx. $121
- Number of homes sold: 8
- Sales volume: $2.7 million
- GCI: $164,000 (assuming 6 % commission)
- Gross Income: ~$82,000 (assuming only one transaction side per deal)
- ROI: +468% (Gross income / Total Zillow spend)
Note how her price per lead is much higher, but her ROI is a bit lower than James’. What is important to consider is not just the immediate ROI but the long-term ROI for both agents who have used Zillow Premier Agent.
Every closed deal means a former client who will give referrals, and more referrals will lead to more clients and closed deals. You may not see the immediate impact of this return as heavily today, but this is the secondary ROI that comes with time and every closed deal you make.
How to Get the Best ROI on Zillow Premier Agent in 5 Steps
You will be paying for Zillow Premier Agent advertising based on how many people view your ad, and what zip code you select. If you want to make sure as many people as possible will click on your ad to contact you, here are some strategies to help your Zillow advertising have a greater ROI.
1. Pick The Right Zip Code(s)
Picking the right zip code or zip codes to advertise in is crucial for maximizing your ROI with Zillow Premier Agent. While most realtors immediately gravitate toward the most expensive zip code near their office, this can be a big mistake for your bottom line.
Atlanta based realtor Stacy Galan suggests that if you are new to real estate, you should take a far different strategy than simply selecting the zip code with the most expensive homes. Galan recommends that you should select your own zip code rather than select the most expensive zip code nearby to snag those million dollar homes. While you may not have any multi-million dollar homes in your own neighborhood, you’ll have something much better that will help you close deals — local market knowledge.
Picking a zip code where you can really serve your clients well will help you close more deals at the end of the day. You’ll know the best blocks to live on, who makes the best sandwiches in town, where the best salon is, and all the perks of the area. Knowing the neighborhood like the back of your hand gives you authority, and helps clients trust and refer you to others. When just starting out, referrals and building your Rolodex will be an essential component of a lasting career.
The other reason to avoid the big ticket zip codes when you’re just starting out is that you’ll pay a much higher price per lead to advertise on Zillow in that zip code. Worse, you might not get the number of leads in that area that you’re hoping for. Home shoppers often want to pick agents with closed sales in the area that they want to buy in.
Farm Next Door to the Million Dollar Neighborhood
If you are an agent looking to make the jump toward working in an expensive area, pick a zip code next door. The key is to find the “next best” neighborhood to the one you’re targeting, and often you will get the same buyers and a foothold in the area you want to work in.
For example, in New York City, the cost of advertising in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is very high. However, many people who are looking in Williamsburg will also consider looking in Bushwick, where the Zillow Premier Agent advertising price and home prices are lower. Many people will start looking at the low end of the market in Williamsburg, then start looking at the high end of the market in Bushwick. Since Zillow advertising is priced by median sales price (among other criteria), you just maximized your ROI by placing your ads in the next door neighborhood.
2. Treat Your Zillow Premier Agent Profile Like a Dating Profile
It sounds silly, but your Zillow Premier Agent profile (including your picture, bio, and reviews) makes a strong first impression on potential clients. Zillow visitors have the option of contacting many different agents in your area, so they are going to select the agent who appears to be the total package.
To improve your Zillow Premier Agent profile and increase your chances of getting contacted, follow these tips.
Upload a Professional Photo
This will appear fairly small on your Zillow Premier Agent page, so make sure you choose a photo that looks good in a small size. If you need help with your headshot, check out our in-depth guide on the perfect realtor headshot.
Write a Unique Bio
Your bio should highlight your expertise in the local area. It should also explain why a potential buyer or seller should hire you. If you’ve lived in the area for many years, volunteer at local organizations or have a particular specialty as an agent, this is the area to discuss it.
If you need some help writing a great bio, check out our in-depth guide to writing a bio including 10 tips and 15 examples from the pros.
Add an Introductory Video
Personality can help sell your services. If you think you come across better in person than in writing, add a quick introductory video to your Zillow Premier Agent profile. If you are able, have your video shot and edited professionally for maximum impact.
Link to your Website
Directing someone to your website is a solid way to get the lead. If someone is able to visit your website, not only are they likely to learn far more about you, but your lead capture features will likely give you their information so that you can contact them or advertise to them elsewhere.
Look at Examples of Successful Premier Agent Profiles
One way to put together your own Zillow Premier Agent profile is to study those who have done it well. Modeling after successful premier agents can give you tips on what items to include, wording choice, what areas of your expertise to highlight, and other suggestions to make a well rounded and solid profile.
As an example of what a great profile looks like, check out Adriana Trenev below. She has a great headshot, wonderful reviews, and fantastic video testimonials from happy former clients. If you were looking for a place in Silicon Valley, she makes a compelling case to call her.
3. Build Up Your Zillow Reviews
Potential buyers respond to social proof. Having multiple five-star ratings on your Zillow Premier Agent profile can definitely get the attention of a future client. Encourage happy clients to leave reviews and rate you, and help build your reputation online and improve your rates of those on Zillow who contact you.
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. You should also get in the habit of asking any client you have a great experience with (whether they end up closing a deal or not) for a review on Zillow, and be sure to provide a link for them to make it easy.
An important note of caution to not use fake reviews. Though you may be tempted when just starting out, do not get fake reviews from friends or family. All Zillow reviews are moderated. If you post fake reviews, Zillow can remove them and you risk being banned from the platform entirely.
For more tips on building reviews, check out our full guide.
4. Follow Up Immediately
Visitors to Zillow will often contact multiple agents in a sitting, so responding to leads quickly will often beat out the competition for the lead. If you use the Zillow Premier Agent app, you can set up the autoresponder to send a text or prewritten email immediately.
The automated response from the app would be a short message that introduces you to the prospect, asks to set up an appointment, and appears personal in tone. For example, it could be set up to say, “Hi, thank you for reaching out about 123 Main Street. I’ll be available shortly to touch-base. What’s the best way to reach you?”
While you can set up an autoresponder using Zillow’s free Premier Agent app, you can also a third-party program like Five Street, a CRM like Contactually, or with integrated solutions like Zurple, Boomtown or Real Geeks.
Whatever way you go, it’s also a good idea to send a more personalized message as soon as you are able, and reach out yourself. With the increase in automated responses, consumers value a personal touch and it makes you appear on your game.
5. Set Up a Lead Nurturing Plan
Nurturing your leads is essential for staying top of mind until a potential lead is ready to take action. In order to close leads you get from Zillow Premier Agent, you’re going to have to stay on their radar until they’re ready to buy or sell. While some leads might be ready to go, for many others nurturing your leads could be a process of a week, six months, or longer.
While there are many ways to stay top of mind, email marketing is one of the most effective and easy to manage. You can set them up on an automated drip campaign that sends them emails once every week or so offering helpful market tips, new listings, or more information about the neighborhood.
If you want to learn more about email marketing, check out our in-depth guide.
Other Zillow Premier Agent Features
In addition to buyer and seller lead programs for agents, Zillow Premier Agent also offers a number of other ways to boost your business. Zillow offers agent websites and additional features for teams and brokerages that can take your business to the next level.
Free IDX Real Estate Website
Real estate agent websites are an additional feature available free to Zillow Premier Agents. Through Zillow, you can get a simple, customizable real estate website with your own custom domain.
The website that Zillow offers to premier agents is customizable and includes a number of widgets you can choose from to make your site more functional. For example, among the widgets that you can add are an IDX tool that lets visitors search your local MLS on your website, a mortgage calculator, lead capture forms, and a blog. Zillow Premier Agents also can access pre-written “community pages” that discuss local events, nearby schools, neighborhood walk scores, and more.
Team & Brokerage Features
In addition to providing buyer and seller leads for agents, Zillow Premier Agent also has programs for teams and brokerages. Features include not only team profiles, but lead routing, phone lead broadcasting, and specific brokerage integrations.
There are five main team and brokerage features on Zillow.
Lead routing allows you to assign more valuable leads to experienced team members, or you can assign each team member a neighborhood/region. With Zillow Premier Agent, when a lead comes in via email, you can have it automatically assigned to members of your team based on two different variables: Home value or location.
Zillow Premier Agent profiles can include not only an individual but an entire team. The team profile aggregates everybody’s reviews, current listings, and lets you write a separate group bio. The benefit of team profiles is that when individual agents have stellar reviews, the resultant combination of these reviews can appear very impressive in number and regional authority.
Phone Lead Broadcast
While Zillow posts your phone number next to your name on Premier Agent ads, they also offer a tool allows you to route this phone number to call each of your agents in sequence. The great benefit of the phone lead broadcast functionality is that it prevents the lead from going to voicemail and losing interest.
Brokerages now have custom branded brokerage profile pages, concierge services, lead routing options, lead conversion training and enhanced performance reporting capabilities through the Premier Broker program. If you’re a brokerage, there are some definite branding opportunities on Zillow sites worthy of exploring for your firm.
Brokerage Dotloop Integration
Zillow can now offer brokerages integration with Dotloop with their recent acquisition of this transaction management powerhouse. If you already use Dotloop for transaction management, then the added Zillow integration makes Premier Broker even more attractive.
Pearson Smith Brokerage built their business from a team of 15 agents to a brokerage of 657 agents in three years. Leads from Zillow Premier Agent were one of the primary ways they provided leads for the team. Founder Eric Pearson talked about the value of Zillow Premier Agent in growing his business.
“In the world of online leads, the Zillow Premier Agent program was a property specific platform that typically provides better quality online opportunities to our team members. The site has far more average daily and annual buyer and seller traffic and continually is adding value to their programs. Zillow Premier has been a cornerstone in building our team lead funnels.”
New Zillow Premier Agent Features for 2018
Real estate technology companies are continually innovating prompted by high competition in the space. Here are a few of the new features and programs Zillow is running in 2018.
Zillow Instant Offers
Zillow is now testing out an instant offer program that allows sellers to get an instant offer on their home from hand-picked real estate investors. Once they accept an offer, they can close in a matter of weeks or even days instead of months. The pilot program is so far only operational in a few select markets.
While many Realtors view this new program as an attempt to replace agents, Zillow has done something smart to keep agents in the game that allows Zillow Premier Agents to gain a whole new stream of seller leads from the program.
The way Zillow Instant Offers works is that before Zillow presents a seller with an offer, they give them the option to consult a local Premier Agent. Though they promise to close quickly, real estate investors rely on purchasing homes well below market value to stay profitable. They also charge relatively steep fees of 9% of the home’s price.
It is assumed that with the high fee and a low offer, most home sellers are not going to be thrilled with many investor proposals, and may be looking for a second opinion from a Realtor. Zillow Premier Agents will be first in line to grab those leads.
Zillow Seller Boost
Seller Boost allows Zillow Premier Agents to land more seller leads. When a homeowner is thinking of selling their home, Zillow knows that one of the first things they do is attempt to figure out how much it is worth. Most homeowners will Google the search, and Zillow will be one of the first things they see.
When they inevitably click on Zillow from their Google search, they’ll be encouraged to “claim” their home to get a more specific Zestimate. Once they do, Zillow includes lead capture forms encouraging them to consult with a Premier Agent. Seller leads generated from these Zillow forms are routed to agents in the Seller Boost program.
Zillow Premier Agent Direct
Zillow Premier Agent Direct places carefully targeted ads on Facebook to get you more buyer and seller leads. By partnering with Facebook, Zillow gives agents the ability to both work with the most powerful name in real estate and the most powerful social media platform.
If you haven’t worked with Facebook advertising before, the primary benefit is granularity. Since Facebook stores all of our information (in more ways than many might like), they allow advertisers to target people not only by age, income, and location but even by how likely they are to move. If you need a primer on the subject, we have a thorough article on Facebook for realtors.
While the Zillow Premier Agent Direct isn’t cheap, with plans starting at around $1,000 per month, they have the potential to pull in a ton of leads without you lifting a finger. Since this program isn’t available in every market or to every agent, you need to call Zillow Premier Agent to see what’s available in your farm area.
The Bottom Line
As the largest real estate network on the internet, Zillow is undoubtedly an essential place to have a presence. Whether you want to promote your own listings or get fresh buyer and seller leads, Zillow Premier Agent gives you the flexibility to advertise with whatever budget is within your means.
The more work you put into your profile, building reviews, and managing follow up, the more you’ll get out of what Zillow Premier Agent has to offer.