Have you watched the Saturday Night Live (SNL) skit about Zillow and people going to Zillow to get their real estate fix? If you haven’t watched it, you can view it below.
While this is a funny skit, it isn’t a joke for many real estate agents. Zillow represents a real competitive threat to many real estate agents’ livelihoods. Zillow has spent millions of dollars over a long period of time to train consumers to go to Zillow.com for their real estate needs. With consumers (the very people that agents do business with) going to Zillow to get their real estate fix, they get exposed to other agents in Zillow who they don’t know and who are competitors to the agent (s) that they know. Worse yet, now in 2021, Zillow is a real estate brokerage looking to do transactions with homeowners and buyers across the US.
In our experience in talking to agents from across the real estate industry, we hear complaints and grumbles all the time from agents about consumers going to Zillow. For instance, we hear things like “I can’t even get my family to use my website to search for real estate.” With a lot of these consumers being homeowners, agents need to understand that they hold the key to competing with Zillow – not Zillow, and it’s right in front of them.
Why Homeowners and Consumers Go To Zillow
Historically and here in 2021, real estate agents are in the middle of most real estate transactions in the US. This means that real estate agents, as a whole, know just about every single homeowner in the US. As a group, real estate agents have as much potential marketing reach to homeowners, if not more, than does Zillow. However, many homeowners go to Zillow for their real estate fix instead of the agent that worked with them to buy their home. The question is why.
One part of the reason why so many consumers/homeowners go to Zillow is Zillow’s marketing and advertising over the years. Zillow has kept it up and spent a lot of money doing it. The second part of the reason why homeowners so easily go to Zillow instead of the agent they worked with to purchase their home is the homeowner doesn’t remember how to reach the agent they worked with because nearly 90% of all agents don’t stay in touch after the sale let alone provide much in the form of communication that adequately satisfies/addresses what homeowners go to Zillow for in the first place.
What Do Homeowners Seek At Zillow?
It’s pretty simple, what homeowners go to Zillow for is listings and to get information about their home’s value.
When Do Homeowners Go to Zillow?
Hopefully, all this that we’ve written about makes sense and is pretty logical to follow. Now consider, what has homeowners initiate looking for listings and their homes’ values? Once you understand this, you, as an agent hold the key to competing with Zillow. Homeowners look for listings and home values primarily because they are triggered to go as a result of 3 things: 1. pure curiosity, 2. life events, and/or 3. the spontaneity of seeing new listing signs in their neighborhood.
We at iFoundAgent suggest that new listing signs in homeowners’ neighborhoods is a primary trigger that pushes the homeowner to seek listing and value information. The new listing sign becomes a “super” trigger when its presence is coupled with a life event(s) happening in the life of a homeowner who sees a new listing sign near their home. Life events that we’re referring to are things like job promotions, job transfers, wanting to upsize because of a baby, wanting to downsize because of empty-nesting, they have a friend or relative who wants to live in their neighborhood, etc.
When a homeowner, ahem an agent’s past customer, sees a new listing sign in their neighborhood, to some degree, they are driven to seek what that home is selling for and there is some natural correllation that the homeowner makes to their own home and financial situation. Most homeowners in this situation need to go somewhere to get the sales price – hence they go to Zillow as most homeowners have Zillow at the top of their mind.
The agent who knows a respective homeowner in this situation wants that homeowner to get that sales price information from them – but in the majority of these cases – sadly this doesn’t happen. Again, in most cases, the agent hasn’t stayed in touch in a memorable way, and the agent hasn’t provided a super simple way for the homeowner to investigate the new listing. It’s not enough that an agent tells their contacts about their website and asks them to use it. They have to provide this hyper relavant housing information (new listings and newly sold listings for example) directly to the consumer immediately as it becomes available to have any chance of interrupting the immediacy of a consumer going to Zillow to get what they want regarding a new listing sign.
With all this said, to compete with Zillow, an agent must have a way to send out instant listing updates that correspond to what a homeowner is physically seeing in their neighborhood during normal ingress and egress stemming from life demands – running errands, going to work, taking the kids to/from school, etc. A secondary drip campaign in the form of a monthly neighborhood update where a homeowner can look at active, sold and pending listings in their neighborhood can often satisfy the normal untriggered homeowner’s curiosity. Agents must provide this information reliably and over time.
It Takes Time and Effort – A Justifiable and Powerfully Applied Expense
An agent can think of their marketing system in this way – this is their micro-advertising/marketing strategy and corresponding budget that on a per capita basis is equivalent to what Zillow spends to cover the US over a comparable period of time.
iFoundAgent.com is a simple system – a website, an IDX (MLS listings tool), and a contact management system all designed for one primary function and purpose – to send automatic recurring periodic neighborhood updates that consist of active, sold and pending listings, and to send instant listing updates for newly active listings and recently closed listings immediately as this information hits the MLS. iFoundAgent’s system drives an agent’s contacts to the agent’s website month after month after month – which for many agents, as we’ve been told, has never happened before.
If you would like more information about our system please schedule a demo here: Schedule Demo.