How to date an 800lb gorilla?


How do you date an 800 pound gorilla? If we’re talking about 800 pound gorillas in the residential real estate space, we’re talking about Zillow.

Zillow is the single largest consumer brand recognized in the residential real estate space. They are here and they are here to stay. Everyone has an opinion about Zillow – I used to have a very strong opinion about Zillow. Then I thought “What is the opportunity with Zillow being in the Cincinnati residential real estate space? Where’s my opportunity?”

There are some things that we need to accept and respect about Zillow.

The first one is they are phenomenal at marketing to consumers. They draw a ton of people to their website. They’re also amazing at generating leads from those consumers, typically through inquiries. The other thing that Zillow is really good at is selling those leads to real estate agents.

So Zillow is a legitimate lead source, a way to accelerate the growth of your business. How do you do this?

How do you date an 800 pound gorilla and not get mauled in the process? Here are the things you need to know…

Zillow has two types of leads, Flex and Market leads. Flex is a special program where you pay nothing up front, they refer clients to you, and you pay a referral fee back to them, somewhere between 25-35%. For Market leads, or market-based pricing, you pay for a percentage of all the leads generated in a specific zip code. If you’re buying leads in a zip code with a very high average sales price or a very in-demand consumer location, Zillow will charge you more than they would for a less popular zip code.

Market leads get very expensive very quickly, which is why you need to know how to pay for them. The way you pay for them is by partnering with at least one lender that you have a good working relationship with. The return on investment is not super awesome unless you can get somebody to help pay for it.

Finally, let me give you the real reason why you would date an 800 pound gorilla. This industry really is about relationships – 66% of all buyers and 70% of all sellers work with somebody they already know who is an agent or are referred to somebody who is an agent. Use the 800 pound gorilla to create leads, to create sales that go into your CRM so that you have long-term relationships and those people over time will use you again and will refer you multiple times. That’s actually how you do a great job dating the gorilla.

Now three caveats: do not work with Zillow leads if any of these three things are true. Number one, you can’t afford to pay for these leads for at least 6-9 months before you make a decision on whether or not they’re going to work for you. Number two, you have to have a really good follow-up game. If you’re not good at following up, these leads are too expensive to purchase, call once or twice and give up. Number three, the zip codes you want may not be available. Ask yourself if you’re willing to go outside of certain geographic areas so you can get into the game with Zillow and maybe pivot to more in demand zip codes later. That’s the scoop on how you play the game. I hope you find this helpful.