Most real estate agents know that a lead is nothing without follow-up. That holds true even when that lead is coming from a shiny new — if controversial — tech product. When Realtor Veronica Figueroa receives a home seller lead from Zillow Group’s Instant Offers program, that’s when the work begins.

  • Zillow Instant Offers leads are a chance to show value, according to one broker.

SAN FRANCISCO — Most real estate agents know that a lead is nothing without follow-up. That holds true even when that lead is coming from a shiny new — if controversial — tech product.

When Realtor Veronica Figueroa receives a homeseller lead from Zillow Group’s Instant Offers program, that’s when the work begins. She doesn’t just send over a comparative market analysis (CMA) and wait for the phone to ring. She goes into what she calls “full-attack mode.”

Veronica Figueroa

“We are door-knocking, dropping off mailers. We are literally targeting these people,” she told attendees at Inman Connect San Francisco’s Indie Broker Summit today.

“It’s a process,” she added.

Figueroa, broker-owner of Orlando, Florida-basedbrokerage Re/Max Innovation, got 48 seller leads — complete with property addresses — from Instant Offers within the first few days of its launch. The pilot program allows homeowners to receive quick offers from multiple investors alongside a CMA from Zillow agent advertisers such as Figueroa.

“We’re trying to get our foot in the door rather than just comparing to these investor offers. We’re trying to actually get inside the home,” she said.

Figueroa has found that the pilot is “not perfect” and still has “some kinks,” but she sees it first and foremost as an opportunity.

“It has provided an opportunity to connect with consumers who have raised their hands and said, ‘I’m interested in selling my home,'” she said.

“Being in the program allows me an opportunity to hopefully shine and provide true market value.”

Given that sometimes she receives leads in areas she doesn’t necessarily work in, “there are opportunities for referrals, for referral partners and I look at it as an opportunity for expansion,” she added.

Brian Boero

Some agents just use software to automatically generate a CMA and think they’re done, but that’s not going to cut it, according to panel moderator Brian Boero of 1000watt.

“It’s almost like if you want to play in this new world, you can’t be lame,” he said, prompting some chuckles from the audience.

“If you are going to make the argument that it’s better to go with a human than an algorithm, you should be human.”

Figueroa agreed. She’s a fan of “old-school tactics,” including door-knocking and handwritten notes.

“A lot of agents are hiding behind technology,” but they shouldn’t be afraid to combine tech with a “human element,” she said.

So far, she estimated that her firm has gotten 12 listing appointments from Instant Offers leads and has listed four properties. The firm has also weeded out properties they don’t want to list, she said.

Would she rather just have a straightforward seller lead rather than being pitted against an investor? Boero asked.

“I would. But I didn’t create this, the market did,” Figueroa said.

She “absolutely” worries about OfferPad and Opendoor and other iBuyers coming to her market, she said, but that doesn’t mean anyone should count agents out.

“The market is indeed changing, but we as real estate agents are still the experts,” she said.

People still want to work with agents, even if they’re afraid of not being able to afford them, according to Figueroa.

“They still consider us the local expert,” she said.

The seller leads she’s gotten so far are diverse. Some are just curious and just pressed a button to try something new and others really do want to sell. But they’ve all been real, live human beings.

“They’ve been from all walks of life, at all different types of price points. But they’re people,” Figueroa said.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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