Have you been wondering about what your return on investment (ROI) would be from the Zillow Premier Agent program? Is it worth your time, money, and effort?
The short answer: Yes, it is.
But there’s a catch. Zillow Premier Agents are only going to see that sort of return if they possess three particular traits critical to success: a competitive budget, a complete profile, and excellent follow-up skills. If you’ve got all of these in place, find out the rates in your ZIP code.
If you’re not sure if you’ve got those traits, we’ll go into each one in detail. 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, over 200 million unique visitors spend time on Zillow’s website looking at homes and searching for real estate agents to work with. With so many prospects spending time on Zillow, advertising on this platform makes perfect sense for real estate agents looking to grow their business.
Zillow Premier Agent is the answer to this strategy. By paying for branding and exposure across Zillow’s network of websites, Zillow Premier Agents are better positioned to be contacted. When Zillow’s website visitors have questions about a property or want to set up a showing, they can easily find a Zillow Premier Agent profile right next to properties in specific ZIP codes.
There are definitely some mixed feelings about Zillow’s long-term role in the real estate process. But on one topic there is no debate. Most buyers visit Zillow at least once in their home search. Advertising on this platform must at least be considered.
Listing Agent vs Premier Agent
Before we go any further, it’s important to point out the difference between being displayed as a listing agent vs a Premier Agent.
If you have an active profile on Zillow, regardless of your Premier status, you’ll be displayed as the listing agent for claimed listings. However, if you haven’t claimed that listing or are not active on Zillow, you won’t have that chance.
Premier agents, however, appear next to every listing they’ve got a share of in their chosen ZIP codes (plus any listings they have outside their chosen ZIP code), thus expanding their exposure greatly.
What Does Zillow Premier Agent Cost?
The cost of Zillow Premier Agent is determined by two major factors. These include the average home price in your chosen ZIP code and the number of other agents competing for space. Using Zillow Premier’s cost estimator for Michigan, for example, we found monthly ad budgets ranging from just shy of $150 to close to $1,000.
If the average home price is high, Zillow charges more (since the expected GCI is higher). As interest from real estate professionals in a ZIP code grows, so does the cost.
We used one of Zillow’s tools for helping agents determine where they want to advertise and how much they want to spend. The table below outlines what various budgets would be necessary to acquire five monthly leads in five different communities in the state of Michigan.
If this is still feeling a little confusing, try thinking about the Uber model. If it is 1:30 a.m. on a Wednesday and nobody is looking for an Uber, you won’t have much competition from other riders, so your cost will be low. But, if the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade just let out and it’s raining, you are going to have LOTS of competition, so prices are going to be much higher.
Zillow Premier Agent Alternative: Zillow Flex
If you’re not feeling warm and fuzzy about paying Zillow a significant upfront spend, in certain markets there is another option. Zillow Flex is the company’s alternative payment option. It allows real estate agents to get leads upfront with no cost, and then charges a referral fee when the transactions close.
Is the higher cost per lead worth preserving your existing operating budget? Check out our article all about Zillow Flex and decide for yourself.
9 Major Benefits of Zillow Premier Agent
Zillow Premier Agents enjoy a lot of benefits. Yes, leads in your inbox, but in addition to that, you get a bunch of other perks. Fantastic exposure on Zillow and other Zillow platforms, an IDX website, a customer relationship manager (CRM), and exclusive ad placement options, just to name a few.
Here are our top nine benefits of becoming a Zillow Premier Agent (ZPA):
The primary deliverable on the Zillow Premier Agent platform is leads. Now that we understand the ZPA pricing model a little better, we know that the exact number of leads is going to depend on market, competition, and budget.
Based on the table above, we can see that agents in Michigan who are looking to add five new leads a month can typically expect to pay anywhere from $29.40 to $182.60 per lead.
Clearly, there are multiple factors that determine your lead volume. But, Zillow’s estimation tools are intuitive and easy to understand, so making a game plan is easy. This starts with a phone call to a Zillow sales rep to talk about options available in your area. From there, the sales rep can unlock all your planning tools in your Zillow Premier Agent account, and you’ll be on your way to Zillow Premier Agent status.
2. Market Presence
The number of monthly Zillow users is staggering. According to the Zillow Investor Analysis, there were over 200 million unique monthly visitors to Zillow in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Such a dense population of your target audience makes being a premium service provider a valuable and visible asset. Just about every real estate agent working today has at least a free profile; it makes sense to consider a premium presence.
3. Zillow Premier Agent Reviews
Even as a non-Premier member, real estate agents can collect reviews on Zillow for free. However, Premier Agents have positioning on the site that highlights those reviews and makes them easier to get to, upping your social cred among users.
Zillow Premier Agent Reviews consistently rank near the top of the list of reasons why consumers choose a particular real estate agent. If you’re light on client reviews, use these nine tips to earn more reviews.
4. Exposure on Other Zillow Platforms
In addition to Zillow’s flagship site, Zillow Premier Agents also have premium placement on Zillow’s network sites: Trulia, StreetEasy, and RealEstate.com. Though the traffic on these sites is considerably lower than Zillow’s, they do offer further exposure and more bang for your Zillow buck.
5. You Can Study Your Zillow Premier Agent Competition
Unlike other premium services, Zillow Premier Agents have access to their competition’s profiles AND how much they are spending in each ZIP code. Is there someone in your area that is absolutely crushing it? Head over to their Zillow profile and then into the ad tools to see what they’re doing!
Imitation is the purest form of flattery, and also could make you some extra bucks. You don’t have to rely on the Zillow help sections to craft a great presence. You can study EVERY great profile on the site and figure out what will work for you.
6. An IDX Website With Custom Domain Name
Even though most agents who are considering Zillow Premier Agent already have a web presence, getting additional, *ahem*, real estate on the world wide web is never a bad thing.
If you aren’t happy with the performance of your current website, you can easily migrate your domain name over to your Zillow site. This lets you take advantage of the Zillow branding and search engine optimization (SEO) work to drive customer traffic.
7. Featured Exposure in the Zillow Agent Finder
Many consumers use Zillow as a place to not only look at homes, but also to look for an agent.
The Agent Finder is so important to Zillow that it has its own spot in the top navigation along with the likes of Buy and Sell. Premier Agents enjoy premium top-line profile placement in searches for their community where they advertise.
8. Access to the Zillow CRM
The Zillow CRM isn’t going to blow you away with its form or functionality. Not to mention its ability to seamlessly integrate with the Zillow Premier Agent App and flawlessly transfer all your Zillow leads into its system, every time.
As a Premier Agent, you get access to this system.
9. Enhanced Ad Options on Zillow & Facebook With Premier Agent Direct
Enhanced ad options are available only to Premier Agents. These allow you to place ads directly in the search results when someone is searching for a property on Zillow. These ads are then coordinated with Facebook ads for those same users.
Ever wonder why you see ads for blue jeans from The Gap after you’ve browsed their site looking for new pants? Same technology, just put to work for you.
3 Essential Traits Successful Premier Agents Need to Convert Zillow Leads
The Zillow Premier Agent program clearly delivers a lot of benefits to its users. But, not everyone is going to be successful with ZPA.
Remember earlier, when we said that in order to succeed, you needed to have the three traits critical to Zillow success? Let’s dive into those right now.
Critical Mass Budget
Unfortunately, while there is no real ceiling to investing in the Zillow Premier Agent platform, there is definitely a floor.
There is a minimum amount that you can spend, and even that minimum might not get you the results you want. Your results will depend on where you are looking to advertise, the average home price, and the agent activity in that area.
It all comes back to the expected lead volume for what your budget will afford you. For instance, let’s say you can only afford an expected 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%, it is questionable whether or not you will close a sale from Zillow.
That being said, because of the flexibility of the Zillow pricing model, there is usually a way around this roadblock!
Try building your Zillow business in a different ZIP code first—one with some lower prices and less realtor demand. Your gross commission income (GCI) may not be quite as high. However, as long as your return on investment (ROI) is positive, you can take the cash flow from this new area and use it to continue to build. Or you can save it until you have enough to wade into the waters of the more expensive area.
For example, in the Northern Michigan town of Traverse City, it takes an estimated $743 per month to acquire five leads in the ZIP code 49686. However, in the neighboring ZIP code of 49696, five leads would take only $672.
A Great Profile
In a lot of ways, the Zillow Premier Agent program is like online dating. People are searching for others in a particular area. They arrive in a list, and when someone catches your eye, you click on them to learn more. But, when you get to their profile, if there is nothing that impresses you, you move on to the next.
This is why a fantastic profile is critical to success. Complete, dynamic profiles rich with a great headshot, information, positive reviews, and content consistently outperform those who can’t find the time to complete this step.
So, what makes a great profile? Let’s take a look at one together.
Meet Craig Hartranft. Craig is from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and his Zillow Premier Agent Profile is KILLING IT.
Craig’s profile has got a number of great things going for it.
First of all, he and his team have taken the time (a lot of it, from the looks of it) and claimed ALL their past sales. With more than 2,000 transactions listed on Zillow, his track record of success is easy for visitors to see.
Craig has also made soliciting great reviews a priority, as evidenced by his more than 300 reviews. None of them are less than 4 out of 5 stars. In many cases, Craig has responded to these reviews, too. He thas thanked the reviewer, further demonstrating his commitment to engaging and connecting with his clients.
Craig’s profile narrative is well-written and has a clear message. He talks about numbers without getting bogged down by them. The strategically bolded text draws the consumers’ eyes, leveraging the platform’s formatting options. Craig also deploys hyperlinks, including linking readers to his own external website.
Finally, Craig supplements his profile info with high-quality video content complete with the Zillow branding throughout. This reinforces his image as not just an expert, but an expert partnering with and implicitly endorsed by Zillow.
Excellent Follow-up Skills
We are in a new age of customer service. The cornerstone of that new age is stamped with the words “ON DEMAND.”
In a world of artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots, where cellphones are always on, and email is always within arm’s reach, most real estate professionals are trying to return calls and messages within the hour. The very best are replying to clients within five minutes of their inquiry.
Here are some strategies you can use to make sure your follow-up is top-notch:
- Use Zillow’s Live Leads feature to connect immediately
- Have a solid email and text response plan for each of your Zillow leads
- Be ready to convert your lead into a client
- Have a long-term lead nurture plan ready for colder leads
- Don’t forget: Your lukewarm leads are still leads
For more information on these follow-up strategies, click here to download our guide to effective Zillow lead follow-up.
Zillow Premier Agent Review
Here’s a Zillow review from an agent who speaks to the importance of lead follow-up and nurturing:
“I’ve been a Zillow Premier Agent for four to five years now. When I first started, I was only paying $80 per month for Trulia mobile ads. That quickly turned into a sale for $500k with several subsequent referrals from that client.
“We’re in an area where there are not a lot of leads but with nurturing, we consistently close several deals a year, getting 3-4x on our investment. We just closed a $1.275 million, four-unit property that was a Zillow lead. We called right away and had a good long conversation with the seller. Took some time but six months later, we were able to sell his place off-market with a 3% commission to us!”
Zillow isn’t the only game in town when it comes to lead generation. If you’re wanting to try something different, consider one of the following:
- BoldLeads: Offering exclusive leads, BoldLeads drives traffic by placing ads on social media and in Google search results. A part of the Propertybase ecosystem, BoldLeads integrates well with their CRM.
- REDX: Real estate prospecting is a more hands-on, but often more affordable lead generation technique. REDX gives you the tools to reach out to potential sellers proactively rather than trying to entice them to reach out to you.
- SmartZip: Predictive analytics is a new and exciting field in real estate lead generation, and SmartZip is leading the way. Using big data analytics and a sophisticated algorithm, SmartZip works to predict homes in your community likely to list for sale. Often they pinpoint them before the owners have decided that this is the year for a new home. Use this tool to super-charge your real estate farming strategy or your postcard marketing campaigns.
Looking for more options? Check out 5 Smart Ways to Buy Real Estate Leads.
Zillow Premier Agent 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 ZPA right here:
Are Zillow leads any good?
Yes, but know that you’ll get very few pre-approved leads calling you that are 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.
You’ve got to be ready to nurture your leads for weeks or even months at a time before you can expect them to convert into clients. To hit the ground running, use these scripts to build rapport with new leads, quickly.
Much of the agent frustration that stems from Zillow comes from them not delivering overnight success leads—something that just isn’t a realistic expectation.
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, agents, and learn more about their area. It’s 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. If you aren’t investing enough into your ZIP code to get any real traction, Zillow probably won’t be successful for you.
Spending more than your ZIP code is worth isn’t a winning formula, either. You won’t get a positive return on your investment. Spending more money than you can afford is going to put you in a stressful situation and ultimately produce negative results.
But, if you can balance all three legs of this stool (budget, follow-up, and proper investment), you’ll be a successful Zillow Premier Agent.
How much do Zillow leads cost?
The cost of a Zillow lead for Zillow Premier Agents depends on the average sale price in your ZIP code. It also depends on the number of real estate agents competing in your area. The higher the sale price and the more real estate agents competing for space on the Zillow Premier Agent platform, the higher the price per lead.
Bringing It All Together
The landscape in real estate marketing is constantly changing. There are always new players, new approaches, and new ideas, but Zillow has remained a visible and important part of this conversation.
Until Zillow’s dominance as the go-to consumer real estate source wanes, a presence in the Zillow Premier program is a valuable asset for any serious real estate agent. As long as you have the critical mass budget to get started, an impeccable profile, and the follow-up skills to convert your leads into clients, investment in Zillow Premier Agent is a no-brainer.
Ready to make the leap? Visit Zillow Premier Agent’s website to see what ZIP codes are available in your area, and how this lead generation platform can fit into your marketing strategy for 2021.