Spectacular views, dreamy walk-in closets, totally renovated kitchens — and any another elements of a home that make an agent want to shout from the rooftops — deserve their own special section on a property listing, or at least that’s the idea behind Zillow Group’s latest idea called “Home Tour Highlights.”
The real estate giant is testing the new feature on Zillow.com, allowing agents to play up specific details of homes they’ve toured to potential homebuyers.
Home Tour Highlights debuted Tuesday for any agent with a Zillow account (not just Premier Agent advertisers) based in San Jose, California. Zillow is reaching out to agents, brokers and MLSs in that market now to begin populating Zillow’s home detail pages and go live with highlights “in coming days,” the company told Inman via email.
Taking what’s already happening offline to the web
By showcasing a home’s “interesting or unique features” as noted by agents who’ve seen the home, Zillow hopes to pique the interests of serious homebuyers and entice them to tour a home for themselves.
“With Home Tour Highlights, our goal is to create more connections between consumers and listings on Zillow,” said Errol Samuelson, Zillow’s chief industry development officer, in a statement.
“We believe there is a buyer out there for every property, and that capturing agents’ personal observations for listings — the things they think make a property really shine — will help make it easier for listing agents to find buyers.”
Zillow spokesperson Kate Downen said the company anticipates the new feature creating “a better experience for homebuyers and, ultimately, drive more consumers to listings on Zillow,” as an add-on to the typical listing description.
“As agents have told us — sharing what’s great about a home is something they’ve been doing offline for as long as the real estate industry has been around. This is exciting for them and for us,” Downen added.
After gaining feedback in San Jose, Zillow plans to make improvements to the feature and expand it to more markets in 2018. Other Zillow Group sites such as Trulia and RealEstate.com are not part of the test.
The experiment rollout
Agents will initially enter home highlights into a form Zillow sends them via email, but as the highlights go live over the next few days, in-market agents will be able to enter their highlights on Zillow.com, the company said.
“[W]e’ll provide brief guidance to agents as they enter comments. Initially, in testing phase, we are asking agents to tell us what’s great or interesting about the home,” Downen said.
Agents will have to click on a button to confirm they’ve toured a home before they can contribute their thoughts on it.
During the experiment, Zillow will review agents’ comments to make sure they follow the company’s guidelines. If they pass muster, the company aims to post them within 24 hours.
Zillow’s own initial rollout of the marketing around the feature underscores a potential pitfall for agents commenting on other agents’ listings. A sample Home Tour Highlight on Zillow’s website ended with “Great home for a family.” When Inman noted that such a comment could bring up fair housing concerns if written by an agent, the company removed the text.
“Content that includes spam, market[ing] and promotional content, harassing or hurtful language, off-topic commentary, or that violates Fair Housing policies is prohibited from home tour highlights,” Downen said.
“For more information, visit our Good Neighbor Policy.”
If a listing agent or homeowner believes content posted falls into the above categories, or if they believe content is inaccurate or otherwise “inappropriate,” they can flag it and Zillow’s team will review the flags within 24 hours, Downen said.
“Highlights will be moderated to ensure on-topic, useful content is posted that will help buyers who are looking for their next home,” she added.