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 Zillow to leave a review or testimonial. Agents followed Zillow’s recommendation and sent their clients there.
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, Zillow, was 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.
Then, they added property records of houses and condos nationwide to their website. The property records of each home enabled Zillow to rank in the search engines for everyone’s house 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 no one in the early 2000’s to Zillow in about 2011.
Zillow is 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 for market trends? I would think that they would be quoted more than Zillow.
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%.
Update: Zillow has become a real estate brokerage now in California. They say it is for selling properties that they buy at a deep discount from sellers but I think it is beyond that.
Listings Up to Date or Out of Date?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 has a direct data feed of all listings from the California Regional Multiple Listing Service. Zillow does not.
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.
In my opinion, our property search is easier to use than Zillow. I make sure that the listings are updated so that my clients have the best property details.
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 26 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.
Yet, I have clients that tell me “but Zillow says 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 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 Zillow. No Realtor® or bank appraiser I know go there for property values.
But consumers still believe them. I’ve been doing real estate for 28 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 Zillow is 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 don’t trust Zillow on home values. I’m baffled.
Maybe this video would help…
Video on How Accurate are Zillow 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, there is a little shadow 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 28 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“
If you are a Realtor® reading this article, please remove all Zillow “widgets” from your website sharing with the public you are 5 Star agent. Why? Because Zillow has a link from that widget back to their website to help Zillow rank in the search engines above your website. This does not help you at all. Take all of your reviews and add them to a separate page on your website called “Reviews” or “Testimonials”. Get an account from RealSatisfied.com or RateMyAgent.com for independent reviews from your clients that you control where they are posted on the internet.
If you are a Realtor® reading this article, please remove all Zillow “widgets” from your website sharing with the public you are 5 Star agent. Why?
Because Zillow has a link from that widget back to their website to help Zillow rank in the search engines above your website. This does not help you at all.
Take all of your reviews and add them to a separate page on your website called “Reviews” or “Testimonials”. Get an account from RealSatisfied.com or RateMyAgent.com for independent reviews from your clients that you control where they are posted on the internet.
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