Have you been wondering 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. Why? Zillow Premier Agents who use the platform effectively enjoy a typical ROI of 195%, according to agents with whom we’ve spoken.
But there’s a catch. Zillow Premier Agent isn’t perfect. The program is plagued with poor reviews from vocal agents, a reputation for customer service focused on selling rather than solving problems, and rising costs (which nobody can seem to really pin down). The strong feelings in the comment section just serve to illustrate the heated debate.
Many, many agents are building and scaling businesses using Zillow Premier Agent (ZPA), and have been for some time. But 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, you should check out ZPA’s rates in your ZIP code. This way, you’ll know if it’s even available for your particular business.
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 198 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 across the Zillow network. Zillow will show Premier ads to prospects in the specific ZIP codes agents pay to target.
When Zillow’s website visitors have questions about a property or want to set up a showing, prospects are presented with featured Zillow Premier Agents. The platform displays Zillow Premier Agent ads in key positions next to properties for sale, and boosts Zillow Premier Agents to the top of their 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 vs 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 outside their chosen ZIP code). This expands their exposure significantly.
💡 You should definitely have an active profile on Zillow, at the very least. It’s free, and you can use it to collect reviews, claim listings, and organically increase your brand visibility.
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—to your questions. But we want to be upfront with you, our readers, about the facts. Despite an exhaustive effort to clearly and succinctly give you an answer to what Zillow Premier Agent costs, we have no 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.
It is the position of The Close that Zillow Premier Agent is a valuable service that should be considered as a paid lead generation option by the right agents. However, we don’t agree with the company’s lack of pricing transparency. And we 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:
- Major metro markets: The typical price per month for agents turning a profit with Zillow Premier Agent starts at about $1,000 per month.
- Outside of major metros: The typical price per month for agents turning a profit with Zillow Premier Agent 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?
The Close Recommends
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 Zillow Premier Agent a perfect platform or even the right choice for every agent? No. Are they worth investigating and at least considering? Absolutely.
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. 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 a new and exciting field in real estate lead generation, 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.
3 Elements for Zillow Success
Though the Zillow Premier Agent program clearly delivers significant benefits to its users, not everyone will be successful with ZPA. Remember earlier, when we noted the three key elements that are critical to your success as a Zillow Premier Agent? Let’s dive into those right now.
1. Critical Mass Budget
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 to make for a self-sustaining strategy.
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 in a different ZIP code first—one with lower prices and less industry demand. 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 new area to continue to build your business (and budget).
2. A Great Zillow Agent Profile
In many ways, the Zillow Premier Agent program is like online dating. Say you are searching for others in your geographical area, and when 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 has a great headshot, a solid bio, tons of positive reviews, and a big list of active and sold listings.
Here’s How to Create a Great Zillow Agent Profile
So, what makes a great profile? Meet Craig Hartranft. Craig is from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and his Zillow Premier Agent profile is killing it.
Craig’s profile has several great things going for it: Craig 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, his team’s track record of success is easy for visitors to see.
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.
Craig has also made soliciting great reviews 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. He thanked the reviewer, further demonstrating his commitment to engaging and connecting with his clients.
Finally, Craig supplements his profile info with high-quality video content, complete with Zillow branding throughout. Doing so reinforces his image as not just an expert, but as an expert partnering with and implicitly endorsed by Zillow.
3. Excellent Follow-up Skills
We are in a new age of customer service, which can best be summed up as “on demand.”
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 are replying to clients within minutes of their inquiry.
Here’s How to Improve Your Follow-up Skills
- Use Zillow’s Live Leads feature (free with ZPA) to connect immediately
- Have a solid email and text response plan for each of your Zillow leads
- Have a plan to convert your leads into clients
- Create a long-term lead nurture plan for colder leads
- Don’t let lukewarm leads slip through the cracks
For more information on these follow-up strategies, click here to download our guide to effective Zillow lead follow-up.
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:
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.
You’ve got to be ready to nurture your leads for weeks or even months before you can expect them to convert 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. 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. Going over your budget 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 become a successful Zillow Premier Agent.
Is Zillow Premier Agent the same as Zillow Flex?
No, Zillow Premier Agent and Zillow Flex are both lead generation platforms with completely different programs.
Zillow Flex offers access to Zillow Leads, but instead of paying a monthly cost upfront, Flex users pay a hefty portion of their commission when 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.
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 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 this year.