It’s not me, it’s you.
We’ve had a good thing for a long time. Of course, I paid you tons of money, poured tons of data into your silo, and recommended you as a primary resource to my customers and friends. And for quite a while, you returned the favor.
In return for a monthly sum of money, you have sold me solid leads and provided a portal that has helped me build my reputation as a top agent. And you had something that no one else offered – a sexy UI and trendy Zestimate that kept people coming back time and time again.
Seriously, most of my Gen X and Gen Y friends saw their Zestimates go up and down and up (the horrors of the Great Recession and real estate crash still linger in our memories) as our fathers checked their updates. of stock in the daily. newspaper.
But things have changed.
A few months ago, the quality and quantity of leads I was paying over $ 5,000 a month for started to deteriorate – rapidly. We used to have real and valuable relationships with clients who were serious buyers of beautiful homes in this neighborhood.
I met many of my first clients this way – they were qualified buyers who wanted to find a knowledgeable, professional and reliable real estate agent to help them navigate a new area and find a comfortable home.
It was a pretty cool setup – to log in, our buyers had a choice of two or three agents to choose to âcall nowâ to choose from (we made sure to collect reviews and post sales to make us so attractive. as possible !) ; they selected the agent who seemed like a good match and our phones were ringing with someone asking for a visit.
Sometimes these calls would lead to a great long term relationship and the purchase of a home; sometimes they didn’t, but that was okay. Because the tracks were always better than worse.
I should have known that this was the beginning of the end when Zillow changed the login system to a âturn-aroundâ model instead of letting end users (potential buyers) choose their game.
Zillow took away the autonomy of choice from buyers, and as agents our future customers did not see our incredible reviews and past sales. Our profiles no longer mattered. The login process seemed haphazard and anonymous, like logging into a rest stop.
In fact, one of my last live hookups was to a vacant, nearly doomed house at the lowest price available in my town. I hadn’t received a lead from Zillow in a long time, so I took a chance and went to meet him on 20 minutes’ notice. This particular person brought a large Solo Cup full of dark red wine to the tour and breathed and spoke a little too closely for my comfort. It was one of the only times in my real estate career where I felt uncomfortable and a little unsafe.
And then, around the same time as the Solo Cup guy incident, we started hearing rumors that Zillow was completely changing his business model. Word on the street was that they were going to slow down or stop the Premier Agent program and move to a SEO-based model – where agents wouldn’t pay for connections to prospects; instead, Zillow would collect a referral from the deals that had been completed. But we didn’t know how or when it would start, or who would be part of it.
Soon after, a few of my close colleagues started receiving recruiting emails from local mega-teams.
“We drink pellets from a fire hydrant!” The emails said. They were new to the Flex program and they needed a LOT of HELP! It was like a slap in the face and a huge betrayal.
Not only were we caught off guard by news about Zillow’s plans from our competitors, but we also never received any information on how the new program would affect or change our investment in connections or results ( although this was evident from the recent rapid decline in the quantity and quality of lead).
And to top it off, little team leaders like myself should fight aggressive recruiting efforts from Zillow’s âflexible partnersâ to keep our agents.
It’s like a race to the bottom and a downward spiral right now, and I don’t like the feeling of spinning or drowning, so I decided to retire. I reduced my Zillow spend by about 80% the day before this last billing cycle started (I only kept a small expense so I could keep pulling my data) and I feel like I’m m ” being separated from an unpredictable, unreliable and narcissistic romantic partner.
But maybe – just maybe – Zillow wants me to come back. This week, just days after cutting back on my spending, I received the following email from my representative Zillow, D .: âI wanted to check your availability because I know this team is starting to look at the next wave of partners. potentials. for Flex. What are the chances that you will be available Thursday at 1 p.m.? “
I’m a kind person who always believes in second chances and the good of people and businesses (yes, I know, hope is forever), so I accepted a call. Also, I never like to turn down an opportunity or offer until it’s extended. I’ll be on the road, so I asked D. to call me at 1 p.m.
Thursday at 1 p.m. came and went, and my phone was silent. I called and emailed and still haven’t received anything. I guess I became a ghost.
I interpreted this as a sign that this is truly the end. Thanks Zillow, for the great times and for a handful of awesome clients (whom I paid dearly for), but it’s time for us to go our separate ways.