Zillow became the trojan horse of marketing. Through clever marketing techniques, Zillow.com, has become a household name.
In the beginning, they convinced the Realtor® population to refer their clients to their website to leave a review or testimonial. Agents followed their recommendation and sent their clients there. I call this word of mouth advertising.
Send Your Clients to Zillow?
I thought to myself, “what, are you kidding me?” Send your clients to your own website. Have all of the testimonials & reviews there.
Little did real estate agents know, they were a trojan horse.
They used a simple word of mouth advertising program to promote their website to all of the Realtors’ clients. That was clever from a marketing point of view.
Make Stuff User Friendly
Brilliant idea. Make the website more user friendly like I do at RedWagonTeam.com.
Then, they added property records of houses and condos nationwide to their website. The property records of each home, condo and townhouse enabled them to rank in the search engines for everyone’s property before it becomes available for sale.
I really wanted to do the same but could not get the same data. Immediately, my competition online went from ZERO in the early 2000’s to Zillow in about 2011.
Online Real Estate Portals are Not the Authority in Long Beach Real Estate or Anywhere
It seems like the media quotes Zillow on what is happening in the real estate market. I find that just silly. What happened to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for market trends?
- I would think that NAR would be quoted more than Zillow which is an advertising and marketing company.
I do a monthly video on my YouTube channel of beach cities statistics and trends here in Southern California. We have a cool statistics program of real data from recent sales that helps me create informative videos on market trends for consumers.
The Facts about Zillow
Zillow is really an advertising and marketing company. I call them an “online real estate magazine”. They advertise listings to consumers, sell advertising space to agents and other companies. 71% of their revenue comes from advertising.
- Now, they are buying homes direct from sellers at a discount and charging consumers 9% – 12%. (oops that was losing business idea and they closed it down).
Update: Zillow has become a real estate brokerage now in California. They say it is for selling properties that they bought at a deep discount from sellers but I think it is beyond that.
There new Flex program charges agents a referral fee to Realtors of 35% for each consumer.
Listings Up to Date or Out of Date?
My clients call and say, “Jay, I saw this home in Long Beach on Zillow. I want to see it.” I look it up and it is in escrow or no longer for sale.
- I share with my clients that my real estate website, RedWagonTeam.com, has a data feed of all listings from the California Regional Multiple Listing Service.
My Long Beach real estate website updates the listing data feed every 10 to 15 minutes…and I’m baffled at times why anyone would go to Zillow. It is hard to search by your favorite features on their website yet easy here.
Should You Trust Zestimates from Zillow as Correct Market Value?
No. The Zillow estimate is just a guess at best. No appraiser I know from a bank would ever use Zillow to appraise a home. I’ve been in real estate for 30 years and I don’t use them for house values.
I have all of the real data at my fingertips through the California Regional Multiple Listing Service, my local title insurance company, property records, and our Realtor® Property Resource.
Zillow says…like Simon says..
Yet, I have clients that tell me “but they say the house or condo is worth X”. I feel bad when I have to tell them that is not how market values are determined. Some of their zestimates are off by as much as 30%.
My last client took the value on Zillow.com as being real. She asked me where do I get my home values? I said I get home values from our real estate multiple listing service and property data records…not an online portal. No Realtor® or bank appraiser I know go to online real estate portals for property values.
But consumers still believe them. I’ve been doing real estate for 30 years and I think I know more than Zillow. I’ve helped so many clients over the years with home pricing for them to buy or sell.
I feel like they are creating mistrust between the consumer and me. It’s a little crazy. I have good intentions for all of my clients but I feel like they trust Zillow more on home values.
Maybe this video would help…
Video on How Accurate are Zestimates
Not All Listings Are On The Internet
I have access to properties that are NOT in our MLS but don’t display on Zillow or any internet website.
Sometimes homeowners don’t want the public to know their home is for sale. Or they have something going on in their lives and are not ready yet.
For me, it is off market properties inventory that most of my colleagues in real estate don’t even know about.
When I take someone on as a client, then I search off-market listings and network with local agents about pocket listings. These two types of listings are not on Zillow.
Pocket listings are sellers who want to sell if their agent has a buyer. This is where my networking skills come into play. Good old fashion talking to people beyond the internet and text messaging. It is a concept most agents forget about.
Real Estate is a Relationship Business Not a Computer Add to Cart Business Model
At the end of the day, you, as the consumer, need to trust that your local Realtor®, who is looking out for your best interests.
Real estate is a complex investment at times. There are so many obstacles in a real estate transaction. You would be amazed at the stories I have gathered over 29 years of real estate.
I suggest that you get to know your Realtor® and learn about the home buying or selling process so you know what to expect in a real estate transaction.
Home Buyer’s Guide & Home Seller’s Guide Help My Clients with Real Estate
I authored two guides for my clients. One is a 51-page Home Buyer’s Guide and 46-page Home Seller’s Guide to help consumers understand the real estate process step by step.
- And, not get deceived by companies like Zillow and others who are not looking out for your best interest.
Reach out to me by email or phone at 562-413-7655. Let’s meet and talk about your real estate plans. I’m here to be a real estate resource for you and your future real estate professional representing in you buying or selling.
Other References about Zillow Zestimates that You May Like to Read
Washington Post – “How accurate is Zillow’s Zestimate? Not very, says one Washington-area agent“
Bill Gasset – Are Zillow Home Value Estimates Accurate
Forbes Magazine – How Accurate Are Zillow Estimates?
Chris & Karen Highland – How to determine Resale when Home Shopping
Podcast & Youtube Video Interview of Jay Valento – “The Truth About Zillow Zestimates – Inside Secrets“
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