OpinionBrokerage

Opinion: Is Zillow becoming a brokerage?

The only thing missing is the brokerage license

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Takeaways:

  • In addition to dotloop (transaction management and e-signatures), Zillow Group also owns Diverse Solutions (IDX provider), Market Leader (CRM), Postlets (listing advertising) and, of course, its search portals Zillow, Trulia, StreetEasy and HotPads.
  • Zillow now has a new program called “Premier Agent Assist” where it will provide the initial and continued follow-up for 30 days on new leads to help its Premier Agents increase their conversion rates.
  • Zillow has publicly stated that it has no intention of going into the brokerage business, but plans can change.

Disruption and innovation abound in today’s real estate technology world. With the recent announcement of Zillow Group acquiring transaction management firm dotloop, Zillow continues to be mentioned in headlines — and social media threads — as a threat to the real estate industry.

Zillow continues to dip its toe into every single aspect of the real estate transaction. In addition to dotloop (transaction management and e-signatures), Zillow Group also owns Diverse Solutions (IDX provider), Market Leader (CRM), Postlets (listing advertising) and, of course, its search portals Zillow, Trulia, StreetEasy and HotPads.

Zillow now has a new program called “Premier Agent Assist” where it will provide the initial and continued follow-up for 30 days on new leads to help its Premier Agents increase their conversion rates.

At what point does it make sense just to take over the entire transaction as the broker of record?

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Zillow has publicly stated that it has no intention of going into the brokerage business, but plans can change (Sorry, JayT). Zillow doesn’t have to replace real estate agents — it only needs to replace the brokerage.

The real estate agent would then hang a license with Zillow, just like he or she would with Century 21 or Keller Williams or any other brokerage.

I can sense your blood pressures rising already, but it’s nobody’s fault but our own. We have given Zillow access to our data for years.

Even when ListHub shut down its feed to Zillow and Trulia earlier this year, brokerages and MLSs were pounding at the door to give the portals their data.

With this data, Zillow has developed tools and technology that has allowed it to provide the information that consumers want. Doing that has enabled it to garner a huge following and a potential customer base of people who already know, like and trust the brand.

Yes, I know you will say that the information that it provides is not always accurate — the Zestimates are a joke. And it has so many listings that are already sold and under contract that it makes the site worthless.

Worthless to you, maybe. Zillow and Trulia are still the No. 1 and No. 2 real estate websites in the United States, and their numbers continue to grow.

To the people who use the site (you know, our potential future customers), they like the site, they know it and they trust it. Remind me, who is it that people do business with again?

Brokerages can only dream of the systems Zillow has in place.

RealScout CEO Andrew Flachner said it perfectly, “Leads and technology solutions were two of the biggest value additions that brokerages brought to agents beyond a place to hang their license. Now Zillow does both and does it better than most individual brokerages.”

Zillow offers powerful lead generation, lead management (CRM) and lead conversion (Premier Agent Assist), transaction management (dotloop) and advertising (Postlets). The only thing missing is the brokerage license.

Obviously, there is more to being a brokerage, such as training and oversight. However, if Zillow were suddenly earning 40 percent of every transaction that its agents closed, that could pay for a lot of training and oversight.

And unlike some brokerages that will sign up anyone with a pulse and a license, Zillow would be flooded with agents who are willing to work this model.

That wave of agents would give Zillow the ability to be choosy about the agents it brings onboard. It could choose only the ones who can convert those leads into closings, provide great customer service and put more money in Zillow’s pocket.

Think about it: If Zillow Brokerage provided you with the technology, support and leads to make a good living and you could focus on closing deals and great customer service in exchange for a 40 percent commission split, would you sign up?

Brian Rayl is a Dallas real estate agent with Keller Williams and the co-founder of Home Value Leads, where he teaches agents how to generate real estate seller leads quickly and cost-effectively.

Email Brian Rayl.