Zillow is making quite a stir in the real estate sales sector in 2017. Pundits are awarding its success to things like Big Data or company culture, but the real reason may be technology and Realtor’s frustration with NAR and the MLS. I’ve written a post on Zillow and its leads generation program. Have a look if you’re an agent.
Zillow Group (NASDAQ) is actually made up of 7 brands serving conumers including internet-based real estate and rental marketplaces. Zillow is growing fast, grabbing a good share of mobile phone searches. With almost 2000 employees today, and the 48th most visited website in the US, Zillow Group has come a long way in a short time becoming a force in the US housing market.
But it hasn’t been without controversy. They’ve drawn criticism from MLS associations and by others for selling home buyers personal information, for not protecting consumers from dishonest sellers/advertisers, and for their advertising practices in general. As a home seller, you may like that you have Zillow to help you reach more buyers. As a Realtor wanting to leverage the Zillow search and advertising system, you may like the potential visibility but not like the home buyer interaction results.
In 2017, Zillow is now to Real Estate what Uber is to a taxi driver
Take their home search for a test drive, using a search for Los Angeles Homes. The video walkthroughs are a unique feature you might like. Have you used Zillow to search for homes for sale before? How did you like it? Was the Zillow Zestimate tool helpful to you? Do a Zillow homes for sale in Los Angeles now.
The upstart company’s zealous enthusiasm for growing marketshare and online services delivery, and making home and mortgage searches more enjoyable for home buyers might be factors that aren’t discussed enough. The company has invested big time in marketing and advertising and in doing things NAR and realtor.com won’t.
If you’re a Realtor, have you used Zillow Leads generation program called Zillow Premier? Does it compare well to other lead generation services? Is Zillow’s success suggest that Real Estate sales is being Uberized?
You can read all about Zillow’s update to its Premier Agent platform at Inman.
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The market is heating up and like so many homeowners, you’re wondering if this is the right time to sell? And what will your home sell for in 2018?
The latest MLS sales reports show that most listings in the hot Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Houston, Seattle, and Miami regions for instance, tend to sell over asking price. That means the seller got more than they were asking for. That’s a nice bonus that actually vaporizes the cost of selling of your home. You get your cake and you get to eat it too.
We’ve seen years of homeowners all playing the waiting game, hoping for the market to fully ripen before they harvest. It looks like the fall harvest has arrived. But will sellers get what they’re asking for or more? Will they be too late?
How to Get the Best Price for Your Home?
For those of you in hot markets, the price you ask for is just a starting point on the way to the price you’ll ultimately receive. The key to maximizing the return on your real estate investment is in how your Realtor conducts marketing for your property — not in high pressure negotiation which brings smaller gains.
It’s important to know what to look for in a good Realtor so you don’t get unpleasant surprises and have to work with a poorly qualified buyer. Big sales prices come out of strategy and targetting well qualified buyers – not last minute tactics.
The Market Changes Month to Month
Right now you may not get the all-cash offer from a wealthy buyer. Instead you may have to sell to someone who saw your mls listing, or who is financing the purchase, or who is buying conditionally. When you cancel out all the “on the edge” tire kicker type buyers, you’re left with a small number of well qualified prospects. These are the ones you want to market to strategically, and whom your Realtor should have fixed on his/her radar.
Sell at a lower price than you want to. If you price high, few will be interested. If you price low, you’ll get a herd of tire kickers and your real buyers will be more motivated to get an offer in. It’s a common practice and in this era, it’s a fool proof approach. In fact, the bidding war news stories you’ve heard about likely were priced low.
Home Pricing Tip #2
Have Your Realtor do a Foolproof Market Evaluation. Your Realtor’s free market evaluation will generate a price, but it won’t always get the comps right. Your Realtor will look for similar homes and it’s important to know why they sold for the price they did. Your Realtor likely knows what’s happened and will be ready to utilize that knowledge.
Home Pricing Tip #3
Set the asking price just below a round number. Sell at $105 lower than a major number. If your house could sell for $1 million, don’t just price it at $999,995.00 Everyone is familiar with that pricing trick. Instead, take the third last number down by $5. So your new price would be $999,895.00 Psychologically, that 8 stands out. It looks like a nice discount when in fact, it’s only $105.
“Our study suggests that by using the just below pricing strategy sellers can price their home slightly higher without driving away potential buyers,” says Eli Beracha, author of a study published in the Journal of Housing Research. “As a result, they end up selling their house for more.” The study revealed a 2.5 to 3% increase in sold price.
Home Pricing Tip #4
Many homebuyers look for homes for sale in a certain price range that varies from city to city. In Toronto where the average price of a single detached home might be $1.4 million, a home priced just below $1 million is going to be found by more home searchers. Your first goal is maximimum visibility since you’re likely to get a better offer from 100 people than you are from only 15 people.
Home Pricing Tip #5
Create a home marketing plan and a home pricing contingency plan with your Realtor or a marketer before you put it up for sale. You want a marketing campaign that’s going to ensure 100%, that you get maximum exposure and the very best price. Better safe than sorry! If you price low and your Realtor relies only on the MLS and his own small circle of buyers, you could be in for disappointing bids.
Home Pricing Tip #6
Definitely go for a bidding war. Ensure your home’s most salient features, the ones buyers drool over, are clearly explained and shown in photos and video. Ensure your Realtor has good exposure online, has a great website, is advertising, and looks like they’ve got their stuff together. Everyone’s should know you’re selling your house in this market of desperate buyers.
Home Pricing Tip #7
Use hi definition photography, video and 3D home tours. People look online, and the impact you make is key to getting call from prospective buyers. Some videos are spectacular and the cost might be very reasonable. Seeing is believing and when you’re transparent, the buyers know they’re not wasting their time. Their time is just as valuable as yours.
Home Pricing Tip #8
Listen to your Realtor’s pricing strategy. If they’re experienced, they know how the selling game is played. All Realtors say they can close any prospect, but it’s just not true. They should be able to explain the jist of how to get the home priced right and how to negotiate with buyers.
Home Pricing Tip #9
Have your home professionally staged. Get your stuff out of there and let them bring in the furniture and dressings to appeal to the targeted buyer. It’s another cost, but if your marketing and pricing plan is good, you’ll easily recover that money.
Home Pricing Tip #10
Time your open houses well and advertise heavily during that time. There will be buyers driving around and they may be using a variety of house hunting apps on their smartphone. Buyers are desperate and thorough these days. Don’t rely on the MLS listings only.
Home Pricing Tip #11
Ensure your listing is well advertised and that your open house is visible via Google. If you know of a real estate blog that is high trafficked, advertise on it, or better yet ensure your open house listing page is indexed in Google and optimized for “open houses + city name, or neighborhood”
Home Pricing Tip #12
In your marketing, ensure you’re not just selling a house – a big box made of wood and cement. You need to evoke the buyer’s dreams because a home is all about dreams. Dreams are why some buyers will pay $1 million over asking.
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I can predict you’ll be meeting more buyers and sellers in 2018 if you get smart about your marketing. And your strategy might include some new technology that’s giving realtors predictive powers. Who wouldn’t want their own crystal ball?
For instance, let’s say you discovered 300 young people, graduated and employed (linkedin), mentioning moving, houses, lack of space, frustration, or weddings (facebook), and displaying intent on instagram, blogs, twitter and other social media. Those behaviors tell you which of the 300 have the highest purchase intent.
Sellers too, express things long before they actually decide to sell such as retirement locations, health issues, kids moving, travel, and vehicle expenses etc. These are the events that lead to the sale of a house.
I Wish I Knew More about My Target Prospects
Your biggest challenges as a real estate agent or mortgage agent is a lack of information about potential clients and what they’re up to – especially for seller leads. Think of the potential value of you knowing who might be buying or selling way ahead of everyone else?
See the videos below and you’ll learn something fascinating.
Forecasting or predictive analytics is a dominant technology innovation happening right now and obviously has big implications for marketing and sales. Companies such as SmartZip have hopped on it and are providing techniques to mine social media activity to predict buying behavior.
There are other companies too, such Adgorithms who use artificial intelligence software to assess click behavior which leads to buying and selling.
What if you could watch your social media followers and draw a good picture of when they might be ready to sell?
Predicting Buyer and Seller Behavior
Google itself is into predictive modeling/analytics extensively with their RankBrain technology. They use it to serve up ads to searchers because they know what consumers will be searching for next in their buying journey. It’s sort of a precognition unit of Google. It works and has grown their ad revenue significantly.
Major national real estate forecasters have had access to excellent market data to map out predictions on housing markets resulting in a few good predictions (well, okay very few:) So forecasting and prediction can work if there is enough high quality data, and an algorithm which can filter through it.
Amazon has their AI software helping them predict what their customers are going to buy next based on past searching and buying behavior. Then they suggest behaviors and products to their visitors.
It’s easy to lead someone if you know where they’re going.
You may have watched the Steven Spielberg movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise. If not, check it out on Netflix. The movie presented an interesting corollary to predictive modeling and predictive analytics. In it, 3 human brains are used as “precognitive” oracles and are fed all the data known (big data) in order to predict every person’s future behavior.
This is the beginning of what may become the precog world of the future. I’ll introduce you to one of the most intriguing lead generation services going — SmartZip which is unique approach to real estate sales forecasting.
How to Read Homesellers and Home Hunters Minds
What if you had some sort of crystal ball or oracle that could tell you where people wanted to live and when they were going to buy a home or condo? What if you could narrow down the most likely home seller leads?
With Predictive Analytics, real estate agents may be able set up and use their own predictive modeling of their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Linkedin, and other feeds to find buyer and seller leads, and other realty trends. This could help with your word of mouth networking since it at the very minimum gets you to focus on the daily activities and psychology of your connections.
The Amount of Data Available keeps Growing
Work that Data! Predictive analytics or predictive modeling. That’s why programmers are making so much money and why some startups are hot properties themselves. Investors and businesses want to know what and when their customers will purchase in the coming days to years.
As a realtor, this information can also help you find buyers in your city or those interested in your city, who may want to sell their home and buy another.
How do they do it? Analytics experts are extracting data from social listening and other data held or data transferred in the cloud. Whatever activity is viewable and therefore downloadable, is extracted into a database and analyzed.
Big Data, and There’s Small Data Too
Big Data as it’s called is often collected from the cloud and other private databases and pooled to create an informative source of real estate information for realtors, investors, developers, politicians and civic planners. And the other part, small data, is the stuff you can collect from your own circle of connnections (social media).
The process might also be called data mining, however the semantics of it all is confusing. The key point of predictive analytics is that this huge amount of data makes it possible to extract patterns of behaviour online and foresee possible future behaviours and intentions.
The experts including those at NAR are using it to predict housing prices and investment risk. Understandably, a lot of people are pumped up about predictive analytics.
“Linking information can give you an incredibly detailed picture,” he said. “NAR’s strategy going forward is to determine the strategy and initial objective, identify models worth emulating, assess existing Realtor® resources, acquire and develop missing capabilities, run a pilot project, and then scale up.” – NAR 2013.
Core Logic is one such company utilizing data from the MLS databases.
Key CoreLogic ListingTrends metrics include leading indicators of house prices, listing inventories, days on market, and absorption rates by listing type—new, active, pending, closed, and sold. With deep and broad coverage of U.S. Multiple-Listing Services (MLS) data, CoreLogic ListingTrends provides monthly snapshots of time-series housing data—at the ZIP Code-level.
Enter SmartZip Predictive Analytics for Realtors
In a previous post on , I mentioned Smartzip, who offers services for real estate agents and mortgage lenders. You’d be wise to check out their service packages and give them a try. They offer insight on ZIP code level which is a little more practical and relevant or the average agent. This can work in concert with my work as your real estate SEO specialist.
What you’ll want to focus on with SmartZip is their data backed selling predictions service to identify seller leads. If you’re selling income generating condos, luxury homes, rental properties, commercial real estate or purpose built student housing investment units, SmartZip could be a big asset.
SmartZip uses up to 24 segments or 2000 variables of data from a number of large listings and real estate firms. As Peter Grace, SmartZip VP says, “You’ve got a 1-in-20 chance in finding a potential seller client if you randomly knock on doors… but you’ve got a 1-in-10 chance if you knock on the doors we tell you to knock on.”
According to a report on mortgagenews.com, that after identifying the best prospects, SmartZip provides a multi-channel marketing program that produces emails and direct mail pieces, including digitally hand-written letters and post cards. It also has a backend lead management CRM feature that looks good. What can it integrate with?
SmartZip’s latest development is called Sphere Targeting – offering home seller analytics and targeted marketing campaigns for an agent’s sphere of influence — or your databases. You upload your personal contact databases to Sphere Targeting’s predictive analytics engine and their software delivers rich data insights and seller predictions for each contact on an ongoing basis. Very interesting.
SmartZip Reviews and Testimonials
Avi Gupta, President of SmartZip explains how SmartZip Works
If you combine predictive analytics with SEO, social media marketing, PPC and maybe remarketing, you’ve got a powerful online arsenal.
Zillow.com has become the largest real estate advertising network on the web. Only ten years ago, in 2006, the company was launched by two former employees of Microsoft. Since then, the Seattle based upstart has purchased a number of businesses to increase its reach and service offerings and its partnerships with Yahoo and MSN give it plenty of reach into the homebuyer and renter marketplaces.
Zillow generates its revenue via advertising. It gets the majority of its traffic (40%) from Google and it is said to have up to 40 million visitors per month. That means it is a successful real estate site, one of the top visited sites in the US, and a key source of leads for realtors. I’m not sure that it does have more traffic that Realtor.org, but we know it is one of the top real estate portals.
With its unique value proposition covering services and opportunities you won’t get from your MLS or brokerage, you may have to pay more attention to Zillow. Zillow is an attractive home listing publisher for home owners and those renting their properties.
Zestimate Tool and Info on 100 Million Homes
It’s said that Zillow has info on 100 million homes in the US including prices, home values over time, and home and property details where publicly available. It is competing effectively against the MLS boards. Zillow’s Zestimate tool is much ridiculed but it is highly used. Although the Zestimate home evaluation tool is often $8000 off on average, it still
As you’ll learn in this post, Zillow offers an extensive lead generation service which a few realtors believe in called Zillow Premier Agent. The video included in this post offers some good insight from one of their active clients who fields questions from some real estate marketers. As you can see in this chart below, agents actually do use Zillow for buyer/seller leads. That leaves us with the questions of lead quality, volume and cost.
I am a Zillow premiere agent and that means I show up to buyers and sellers on Zillow when they are looking for a house or looking to sell their house. I used to be a Trulia agent and we have had experience with Realtor.com as well. In my opinion Zillow has been the best lead source so far. Zillow gives us less leads, but they are higher quality. Zillow is a little more expensive than some other sites, but I think it is worth it — quote from Investfourmore.com
Zillow competes with other lead generation firms such as NAR’s Home Values, Bold Leads, Market Leader, Agent Locators, Agent Pronto and a fast increasing other lead sellers. Are these the best lead generation sources? In the long run, the best solution is the one I provide which is via Google and Social Media lead generation. The issue with these lead generation firms might be with the quality. With Zillow as with any other ad generated lead, realtors must respond very fast before the weak lead becomes very cold.
The speed at which a lead becomes cold really tells you a lot about the quality. If you develop leads on your own idx website, the leads are warmer, better oriented to your offer and brand image, and likely to stay loyal. They don’t go cold because this buyer or seller expects you to become their realtor.
Zillow’s reputation took a beating this summer when the company settled a sexual harassment suit out of court. An aggressive LA law firm put persistent heat on the company which was claimed to have been run like an “animal house.” And Zillow was also punished regarding the hiring of Earl Samuelson of Realtor.com. Apparently, trade secrets were divulged or could be divulged. The law suits could cost Zillow some cash.
Here’s the company President speaking on CNBC
And here is Genny Williams of Get A Real Estate Life speaking with a realtor who relates his experience in using Zillow’s lead program.
Zillow vs Your Own Lead Generation System
I believe, that as an enterprising Realtor, you might well use the Zillow or Home Values system while building your own lead generation website and social media presence. You’ll always be paying for leads from Google Adwords or the real estate leads generation companies. Long term for the sake of your career and the possibility of a 7 figure income, you need to have a sustained, owned presence that you can groom and provide as an online focus for your inner circle of clients.
Consider how your clients just don’t get the clear Realtor branding message or the opportunity to calmly go to your website, ask questions and get the right response from you — because your brand and value proposition were properly built and you’re ready for the types of questions they will ask. That makes you look very good and is the reason why they won’t bother with another realtor.
Think about how the best realtors in the business such as Jade Mills, Santiago Arana and Tami Pardee in Los Angeles, or Merrily Hackett in Vancouver started out. They built equity and didn’t rent their success.
Gord Collins — Real Estate SEO Consultant — I generate leads for realtors in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New York, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, St Louis, Minneapolis, Green Bay, Charlotte, Tampa, Miami, Orlando, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Oshawa, Hamilton, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Oakville, Calgary, Kelowna, Mississauga, Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Malibu, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Mountainview, Palo Alto, Portland, Washington, Atlanta, Irvine, Nashville, Sunnyvale, Salt Lake City, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, Costa Mesa, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Raleigh, Albuquerque, Glendale, Oceanside, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Carlsbad, Santa Clarita, Henderson, Mesa, Temecula, Kirkland, Redmond, Kansas City, St Louis, Stockton, Scottsdale, Palm Springs, Indianapolis, Columbus, Colorado Springs, Fort Worth, Chula Vista, Escondido, Santa Monica, Miami Beach, and Honolulu. Find a Los Angeles Real Estate Agent who will actually work for you.