Melissa Archuleta, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in Little Rock, Arkansas, recently received a call from a buyer asking for details about a listing, including the property’s homeowners association dues.

The buyer had called because he found Archuleta’s contact information on the listing’s property details page on Zillow. As an advertiser, Archuleta appears on Zillow listings in a number of ZIP codes.

Archuleta told the man she didn’t have the details he wanted on hand, but that she’d look them up for him.

He grew irritated.

“You’re not the listing agent? I don’t know why your name is listed here if you’re not the person I should be talking to,” he growled. “I just want to know the information, and I need to know it right now.”

Then he hung up.

While most buyers who connect with Archuleta through Zillow are polite, Archuleta said they often still express puzzlement upon learning that she doesn’t know everything about the property they’re inquiring about.

Other agents who advertise on listing portals report having similar exchanges with buyers.

Jay Thompson, director of industry outreach at Zillow, said that Zillow clearly identifies listing agents on listings, but acknowledged that agent advertisers sometimes report receiving calls from consumers who apparently haven’t registered that information.




Working off a Facebook conversation recently started by Archuleta, we’ve rounded up some tactics recommended by agents for dealing with listing portal leads who expect to be speaking to a listing agent or who can’t understand why an agent doesn’t know everything about a property.

1. Know your inventory.

The easiest way to deal with buyers who want property details right then and there is to know that information offhand.

That’s not easy — and perhaps even impossible in larger markets — but setting up alerts for new listings is a step in the right direction.

2. In the case of Zillow leads, explain your “premiere” status.

Some agents who pay for exposure on Zillow recommend identifying yourself as a “Zillow Premier Agent,” Zillow’s label for its agent advertisers, and explaining that all agents part of that club appear on listing pages.

From there, an agent can ask a buyer about their interests or explain the merits of using a buyer’s agent.

3. Describe the benefits of representation.

One agent said that could include telling a buyer “how it’s best they don’t go straight to the listing agent,” alluding to a listing agent’s responsibility to look after the interests of a seller, not a buyer’s.

“I would be happy to look up the information about that home real quick,” another agent recommends saying. “In the meantime, tell me about your real estate goals.”

“In this case, I represent the buyer; don’t you want to be represented?” is a line another delivers to confused online leads.

Zillow’s Thompson recommends posing the following question to some confused portal leads: “Would you hired your spouse’s divorce lawyer to represent you, or would you get your own lawyer that has your best intersts in mind?”

4. Build rapport while pulling up property details on the fly.

Ask the buyer what they like best about the property, why those features are important to them and whether they would want to hear about a home with those features that’s even better, one agent advised.

“By then, you’ve looked it up,” the agent said.

5. If you’re busy, say you’re busy.

Rather than drop what you’re doing when a buyer calls, tell them you’re tied up and will get the information to them as soon as possible.

“I ask that they text me their email address and I will email them a full listing with room dimensions, etc.,” one agent said.

6. Point out the benefit of double-checking details.

“I’m working on selling about 150 homes in that ZIP code right now,” one top-producing agent tells buyers. “So instead of guessing, let me look it up/get back with you. What’s the best email and number to reach you?”

Another said, “I would just explain that you have thousands of listings to show and can’t possibly remember all the details, so you want to make sure you’re giving them accurate information when they call.”

“I have learned to double-check details over the years and I’m sure you don’t want incorrect information, correct?” another agent asks buyers hankering after property details.

The agent added that if a buyer still can’t hold their horses after an agent says that, then the buyer probably isn’t worth the trouble.

Archuleta says the conversation she kicked off in the Facebook group taught her how to do a better job at wooing buyers who expect her to have more information on hand or say, “Well, your name is next to the picture — you’re not the listing agent?”

She said she might say any of the following to confused portal buyers:

  • “I’m one of Zillow’s premier agents in that area, and we all work together to get houses sold. How can I help you?”
  • “If you give me all your questions, I’ll look that up for you, and I’ll call the listing agent.”
  • “I’m working with that listing agent to get that house sold.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Jay Thompson, director of industry outreach at Zillow.

Email Teke Wiggin.

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