In late July, the real estate game changed again. Zillow bought their primary competitor, Trulia, for $3.5 billion (yes, billion with a B!). Real estate expert Brad Inman says that Zillow has effectively “checkmated” the real estate industry.
“In my view, this is checkmate,” Inman said. “Soon, Zillow will control the chessboard, like Amazon does the publishing industry. The only meaningful consumer destination, Amazon, after many savvy moves, now controls pricing, merchandising, the data and the market. Soon, Zillow will control the pricing, the listings, the merchandising and, for sure, the consumer.”
It’s been established that 95% of all consumers begin their real estate search online. So, now that Zillow has taken the lead as the destination for people searching online for homes, what does this mean for REALTORS®?
First off, it’s no secret what Zillow is trying to do — they are positioning themselves to get in front of the consumer before you, the agent, has a chance to market to them. In turn, they will sell you leads, when the leads are people who are living in your backyard. (This seems kind of wrong to me.)
Some agents might just bite the bullet, which will prove to be a very expensive way to market their services. But if you’re going to pay for leads from Zillow, at the very least make the most of them. That’s why relationship marketing is important today more than ever.
We can’t outspend Zillow when it comes to marketing dollars — their marketing budget alone dwarfs most of our entire incomes. So don’t waste your money there. Instead do the one thing Zillow can never do — have relationships with your clients.
REALTOR.org found that 73% of home buyers who used an agent said they would use the same agent again. Plus, 39% of sellers said they found their agent through a referral from family or a friend, and an additional 25% of sellers worked with an agent they had used in the past. You’re already laying the ground work — why chase “new leads” while ignoring the ones you already have?
Start focusing on your past clients. Create relationships with them so they trust you, and know they can trust you again. Continue to provide them with valuable information about their neighborhood, owning a home, the real estate market. Make sure they know that you are there when they need you. If you establish a relationship with them, they will remember you, they will likely use you again, and they will pass your name on to their friends and family.
Zillow has ensured that the days of traditional online lead-chasing are over. So take advantage of what you have that big companies don’t – the human touch.