Let’s talk about Zillow Premier Agent—is it worth the time, cost, and effort? The short answer: Yes, it is. Zillow Premier Agents we’ve spoken to who use the platform effectively enjoy a typical return on investment (ROI) of 195%.
But Zillow Premier Agent (ZPA) isn’t perfect. The program is plagued with poor reviews, a reputation for overselling agents rather than solving problems, and of course, rising costs (which nobody can seem to really pin down). Look no further than the comment section of this very article for evidence of this heated debate.
To be successful with ZPA, you need to have the three elements of Zillow success: a competitive budget, a complete profile, and excellent follow-up skills (more on these later). If you’ve got all of these in place, click below to learn more about the program.
To help you determine if you have those three elements solidly in place, we’ll provide more detail on each one, but before we do, let’s talk about what Zillow Premier Agent is, how it works, and, of course, how much it costs.
Zillow Premier Agent: What It Is & How It Works
Each month, more than 224 million unique visitors spend time on Zillow’s website looking at homes and searching for real estate agents. Zillow Premier Agent capitalizes on this site traffic and allows agents, teams, and brokers to purchase display ads in specific ZIP codes across the Zillow network. This way, you can capture leads who may be casually viewing properties months before they decide to contact a real estate agent. That’s why it’s so important that your lead follow-up process is on point.
When Zillow’s visitors have questions about a property or want to set up a showing, they’re presented with featured Zillow Premier Agents alongside the listing agent. The platform displays Zillow Premier Agent ads in key positions next to properties for sale and boosts Zillow Premier Agents to the top of the agent directory.
Listing Agent vs Premier Agent: What’s the Difference?
Before we go any further, it’s important to point out the difference between being displayed as a Zillow listing agent and a Zillow Premier Agent.
If you have an active profile and your listing is on Zillow, you should be displayed first as the listing agent regardless of your Premier status. However, if you haven’t claimed the listing or are not active on Zillow, you won’t have that opportunity.
Premier agents, however, appear next to their purchased share of every listing in their chosen ZIP codes (plus any of their own listings regardless of whether they are in their chosen ZIP code). This expands their exposure significantly.
How Much Does Zillow Premier Agent Cost?
We don’t know. At least, not exactly.
This isn’t a statement we take lightly at The Close, as our mission is to provide the best answers to real estate questions—your questions. But we want to be upfront with you, our readers, about the facts. Despite an exhaustive effort to succinctly give you an answer to what Zillow Premier Agent costs, we don’t have clear, authoritative information.
Here’s why: Zillow’s pricing depends on multiple factors such as the typical sold price of a home in a certain ZIP, the number of real estate professionals competing for leads there, and the percentage of the available leads you want to capture. Because these factors change depending on the agent, your costs are difficult to estimate.
But it’s not impossible. The reality is, Zillow offers real-time estimates to prospective Zillow Premier Agents all the time. Despite our repeated attempts through multiple channels, Zillow has flat-out refused to give any insight, estimate, or information about their general pricing model to us, and, as far as we can tell, to any other objective reporter in this field.
I believe Zillow Premier Agent is a valuable service that agents should consider in their overall paid lead generation strategies. However, I don’t agree with the company’s lack of price transparency. And I can’t unreservedly recommend it without more detailed cost analysis.
What Do Others Pay for Zillow Premier Agent?
Because Zillow has refused to offer even estimates for different markets across the country, The Close asked agents with whom we’re connected about their pricing experiences. We found these pricing estimates to be true from our informal poll of agents who are actually turning a profit with ZPA:
- The typical price per month for major metro markets starts at about $1,000 per month.
- The typical price per month outside of major metros is between $300 and $500 per month.
What Is the Typical Cost per Lead With Zillow Premier Agent?
As noted above, the cost per Zillow Premier Agent lead depends on the three factors: the typical sold price of homes in your area, number of agents competing for leads there, and percentage of the leads you’re aiming to capture. When one (or more) of these measures is low, we’ve heard from Close readers that leads can be as low as $60 or $75 a piece.
However, when markets are competitive and prices are high, the cost per Zillow Premier Agent lead tends to shoot up dramatically. Some readers report leads as high as $450 or $500 each.
The Close Take: Is Zillow Premier Agent Worth the Cost?
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Yes. Zillow Premier Agent is an investment real estate agents, teams, and brokers should consider—provided they have a large enough budget to be competitive in the markets they’re pursuing and their cost-per-lead estimate allows them to be profitable.
To be clear, the math doesn’t work for every agent. There are markets in the U.S. where costs are so high that the typical real estate professional will barely break even using Zillow Premier Agent.
But, the fact remains that there is simply no other lead source on the internet that can offer the level of traffic, exposure, and opportunity that the Zillow Premier Agent program can.
Is Zillow or ZPA a perfect platform or even the right choice for every agent? No. Are they worth investigating and at least considering? Absolutely.
3 Elements for Zillow Success
Remember earlier, when we noted the three key elements that are critical to your success as a Zillow Premier Agent? Let’s dive in.
1. Critical Mass Budget: Getting Your ‘Share of Voice’
Unfortunately, while there is no real ceiling to investing in the Zillow Premier Agent platform, there’s definitely a floor. A minimum Zillow Premier Agent budget all comes down to whether the expected lead volume for your budget will produce enough prospects for the program to be viable for you.
The way Zillow explains its model is through a marketing term called “share of voice.” If there’s a big Zillow spender in your area, or you’ve got a saturated market, unfortunately the $1,000 you pay to Zillow every month might not bring you many leads. Zillow leads go to the highest bidder, who has the loudest “voice” in your market.
And if you’re not getting through to your intended audience, the numbers won’t pencil out. For example, let’s say you can only afford a tier that’s expected to yield one lead a month in your preferred ZIP code. If you are only receiving 12 leads a year and your expected conversion rate is 5%, you may not close a Zillow-sourced sale for years (if ever).
Here’s How to Get There
Try building your Zillow business up in a ZIP code with lower prices and less industry demand first. Your gross commission income may not be quite as high, but as long as your ROI is positive, you can use the cash flow from this starter area to continue building your profile and growing your ZPA budget.
2. A Great Zillow Agent Profile
In many ways, the Zillow Premier Agent program is like online dating. When you’re searching in your area and someone catches your eye, you click on their profile to learn more. But if nothing impresses you when you view their profile, you swipe left and move on.
A complete Zillow profile leverages the SHARP model, which stands for sales, headshot, advertising markets, reviews, and professional bio. This means you’ve got to claim all of your past transactions on Zillow, have a current headshot, work in the applicable markets, beef up your reviews, and spiff up your professional bio. We’ve got some great tips on these elements, but let’s take a look at an agent who’s ticked all the boxes.
Here’s How to Create a Great Zillow Agent Profile
Meet Craig Hartranft. Craig is from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and his Zillow Premier Agent profile is killing it. He and his team have taken the time (a lot of it, from the look of things) and claimed all of their past sales. With more than 4,000 transactions listed on Zillow, it’s easy for visitors to see their track record of success.
Craig’s profile narrative is well written and has a clear message. He talks about numbers without getting bogged down by them. The hyperlinks and strategically bolded text draw the consumer’s eye, leveraging the platform’s formatting options. Let’s take a peek.
Craig has also made soliciting client feedback a priority, as evidenced by his more than 500 reviews. None of them is less than 4 out of 5 stars. In many cases, Craig has responded to these reviews too. This shows his engagement and communication with clients.
Finally, Craig supplements his profile info with high-quality video content, complete with Zillow branding throughout. Doing so reinforces his image as an expert endorsed by Zillow.
3. Excellent Follow-up Skills
In a world of artificial intelligence chatbots, where phones are always on and email is always within arm’s reach, most real estate professionals try to return calls and messages within the hour. The very best on Zillow are replying to clients within minutes of their inquiry. Keep in mind that, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2023 Highlights Report, 67% of buyers interviewed only one real estate agent during their home search. Never forget the importance of speed to lead.
Here’s how to improve your follow-up skills:
- Use Zillow’s Live Leads feature (free with ZPA) to connect immediately
- Create email and text templates for Zillow leads
- Have a plan to convert leads into clients
- Create a long-term lead nurture plan for colder leads
- Don’t let lukewarm leads slip through the cracks
Extra Perks of Being a Zillow Premier Agent
Obtaining leads is the most significant benefit of using Zillow Premier Agent, but there is more to the program than just prospects. Some of our favorite benefits of Zillow Premier Agent include:
- Highlighted reviews: Any agent can collect reviews on Zillow for free. However, Zillow positions Premier Agents on the site in a way that highlights their reviews and makes them more accessible, upping a Premier Agent’s social cred.
- Automatic ranking: Consumers can tell at a glance how a ZPA agent compares to the competition.
- Exposure on other Zillow platforms: In addition to Zillow’s flagship site, Zillow Premier Agents also have premium placement on Zillow’s network sites, including Trulia, StreetEasy, and RealEstate.com. Though the traffic on these sites is considerably lower than Zillow’s, they offer further exposure and more bang for your Zillow buck.
- An IDX website with a custom domain name: Even though most agents considering Zillow Premier Agent already have a web presence, getting additional real estate (ahem) on the internet is never a bad thing.
- Featured directory placement: Many consumers use Zillow to find representation, not just look at homes. Zillow’s Agent finder is so important that it has its own spot in Zillow’s top navigation, alongside the site’s Buy and Sell features. Premier Agents enjoy premium top-line profile placement in searches for the communities where they advertise.
- Access to the Zillow Premier Agent CRM: The Zillow CRM isn’t going to blow you away with its form or functionality. Still, it’s designed to seamlessly integrate with the Zillow Premier Agent App and flawlessly transfer all your Zillow leads into its system, every time. So it’s worth checking out, if only for Zillow leads.
Zillow isn’t the only game in town when it comes to lead generation. If you’d like to try something different, consider one of the following:
As we note in our recent review, zBuyer uses cutting-edge analytics to uncover early indications of interest in selling or buying. Potential sellers are offered a chance to discover their home’s worth and potentially a cash offer. Buyer leads are captured through the company’s site, HousingNow.com.
Potential leads must confirm their interest at several points along the way, verifying their intent, which results in higher conversion rates. zBuyer then provides the agent with the lead’s contact information in real time via the zBuyer app, email, and to your customer relationship manager (CRM) of choice. While the leads aren’t exclusive, zBuyer says they work hard to “limit their exposure.”
With REDX, real estate prospecting is a more hands-on, but often more affordable, lead generation technique. As an auto-dialer, REDX gives you the tools to reach out to potential sellers proactively rather than trying to entice them to reach out to you. If you are a cold-calling master, it’s definitely a system we recommend checking out.
Predictive analytics is hot in property technology, and SmartZip is leading the way. Using data analytics and a sophisticated algorithm, SmartZip predicts which homes in your community are likeliest to list. SmartZip often pinpoints homes before the owners have decided that this is the year they plan to sell. You can use this tool to supercharge your real estate farming strategy or your postcard marketing campaigns.
Market Leader uses strategically placed ads on Google and social media to drive traffic to one of two places: a home valuation page for seller leads or a personally branded, IDX search-enabled landing page for buyers. And as we point out in our review, Market Leader has a crucial differentiator: guaranteed lead volume.
Frequently Asked Questions
Didn’t find what you were looking for in our guide? Not to worry—we’ve answered some of real estate agents’ most frequently asked questions about Zillow Premier Agent here:
Are Zillow leads any good?
Yes, but you’ll get very few pre-approved leads calling you because they’re ready to buy or sell a million-dollar property. Most Zillow Premier Agent leads (and just about every other internet lead) come to you lukewarm, at best. Because they tend to be more top-of-funnel, you’ll need to build that relationship.
You’ve got to be ready to nurture your leads for weeks or even months before you can expect to convert them into clients. Use these scripts to quickly build rapport with new leads and hit the ground running.
Does Zillow work?
Depends on who you’re asking, but overall, we’d say yes, it does. Zillow is a great place for consumers to browse real estate listings, find agents, and learn more about their area. It’s also a great place for agents to connect with potential buyers and sellers.
Will it make you money? That depends on how well you can balance your budget and follow up with leads. Keep in mind that with Zillow’s “share of voice” model, if you aren’t investing enough into your ZIP code, you might not see much traction.
Spending more than your ZIP code is worth isn’t a winning formula, either. Going over your budget is going to put you in a stressful situation and ultimately produce negative results in terms of ROI.
But, if you can balance all three legs of this stool (budget, follow-up, and proper investment), you’ll likely see success with Zillow Premier Agent.
Does Zillow Premier Agent require a contract?
Most agents are on a contract with Zillow Premier Agent. Zillow offers an advertising bonus to be on an autopay contract. They generally last six months, but as we noted above, every market is different. As of October 2023, agents can cancel their contract but will have to pay an early termination fee that’s twice the monthly minimum spend outlined in their contract.
Why does Zillow Premier Agent have bad reviews?
Listen—our readers have varying opinions on Zillow and it’s important to remember that every agent runs their business in their own way. We know that Zillow doesn’t do much vetting for agents to screen leads who already have an agent, or haven’t been prequalified. However, it’s a numbers game. If you get dozens of these leads and put in the work, some of them should convert. At the same time, from our research we’ve found that in more expensive ZIP codes, agents might expect to pay thousands of dollars for just a handful of leads from Zillow.
Let’s also keep in mind that, according to NAR’s 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, only 10% of buyers found their agent when inquiring about a specific property they found online. So you’re looking for a needle in a haystack when we’re talking about finding a buyer online. And when agents are paying Zillow thousands of dollars just to snag a handful of lukewarm leads, that’s naturally going to leave a bad taste in some agents’ mouths.
Is Zillow Premier Agent the same as Zillow Flex?
No, Zillow Premier Agent and Zillow Flex are two completely different lead generation programs. Zillow Flex offers access to Zillow Leads, but instead of paying a monthly upfront fee, Flex users pay a hefty portion of their commission after a deal closes. Though this no-money-down option sounds good in theory, it winds up being a very expensive choice. That’s why The Close no longer recommends it to most agents.
Bringing It All Together
The lead gen landscape in real estate is constantly evolving. There are always new players, new approaches, and new ideas, but Zillow has remained a visible and important part of this conversation throughout its existence.
Until Zillow’s dominance as the go-to consumer real estate source wanes, a presence in the Zillow Premier Agent program is a valuable asset for most serious real estate agents. As long as you have an adequate budget to reach a critical mass, an impeccable profile, and the follow-up skills to convert your leads into clients, investment in Zillow Premier Agent is a lead gen tool we can stand behind.
Ready to make the leap? Visit Zillow Premier Agent’s website to see how this lead generation platform can fit into your marketing strategy this year.