Zillow launches WordPress sites for real estate agents

May 31, 2012

New WordPress websites for agents

Zillow has announced the launch of “Premier Agent Websites1” which are customizable template websites for real estate professionals. The cost is $10 per month, or is free for Zillow Premier Agent program subscribers. The company touts ease of set up, alluding to agents not being required to be tech savvy.

Now making full use of their 2011 acquisition of IDX company, Diverse Solutions, agents can add an IDX feed from the MLS to offer site visitors real estate search, and while some MLSs charge a fee, Zillow says IDX comes standard with their sites and they do not take a cut. The company says the acquisition of Diverse Solutions “allowed Zillow to accelerate this important initiative to help real estate agents better market their business online.”

“It’s incredibly important for real estate agents to have a Web presence, but building and maintaining a custom website with local IDX feeds is often time consuming and complex,” said Jay Thompson, director of industry outreach and social media at Zillow. “We created this product for the tens of thousands of agents in our Premier Agent program, as well as any agent who wants an easy and affordable website for only $10 a month.”

Domain names, customization, and widgets

Zillow notes that the websites are designed for agents that do not have their own websites, and add that it could be an option for agents who wish to improve their current website. They also offer a personalized domain name at no additional cost, and the ability to add custom content through widgets, such as a blog, videos, mortgage widgets, school information and photo slideshows.

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This announcement puts Zillow one step closer to being a complete marketing solution for real estate professionals which appears to be their goal, after announcing a free customer relationship management (CRM) platform that manages leads coming from the website, acquiring Postlets and Diverse Solutions, and now putting a pretty bow on the package by offering agent websites.

While this will not be a solution for all agents, and it is ideal for an agent to own and control their own web presence with no third party involvement, it is an inexpensive option for agents just starting out. It is unclear what kind of data Zillow will collect from these sites or what they could potentially do with it, but it is a smart long term plan for the company looking to compete more directly with Move, Inc., operator of Realtor.com and Top Producer.

1 Zillow Agent Websites

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  1. Advantage goes to Zillow … they’ve figured the way around contending with large agencies who are walking away from syndication by marketing directly to individual licensees with such a product.
    Disadvantage goes to Agents … because syndication will be bundled into the product whether they like it or not.

    • Hi  @corleybrooklyn Jay T. from Zillow here.
      The IDX solution provided through the Premier Agent Website is completely separate from listings being sent to Zillow.com. The IDX provider and MLS enter into an agreement that the data isn’t shared — just like the agreement that exists between Diverse Solutions (the IDX provider) and respective MLS’s.
      In other words, there is no syndication of listings between Premier Agent Websites and Zillow.

  2. I’m all over giving the real estate community the advantages of both WordPress and an IDX solution for their online marketing.
    I think the jury is still out with me on whether or not those agents and brokers, who don’t have a current (or functioning) site, will do anything with this opportunity ? And, at only $10/month…the possibility of saturating the market with the same looking site for thousands of RE professionals may do little to give them the added online marketing edge they so vitally need to set themselves apart!
    Kudos to Zillow for offering this advantage to the RE industry…I’ll be very eager to see the results.

  3. @GeoffONeil Agreed.

  4. Just the other day I was talking to a young, new agent. He has the standard Keller-Williams site via yourkw etc. It’s a total disaster from a number of angles, SEO being just one. He’s willing to do the work required to rank in his market but the platform he’s on is not acceptable.
    For guys like him, stuck on a barely serviceable system, but working hard to make it better–this will be a Godsend. And for people who aren’t sure what the value of their website is at all it will be a no brainer as well.
    I would not want to be a purveyor of mediocre websites right now. The vendor market will have to cede the low-end to Zillow on this. Maybe the middle-end too. The wisdom of putting the online presence into the hands of an aggregator might be questioned, of course. But, as in the case of the guy I was talking to, the tools he’s been given are such a disaster that I don’t think he could be hurt more by switching over. 

    •  @Gahlord Dewald Will the SEO value of listings now be further diminished now that they’re going to be so much more widely available/distributed? 

      •  @jimduncan Raw SEO value of listings on sites have been devalued for years already. You just need one piece of duplicate content for there to be duplicate content. Listings on sites are just table stakes really for inflating page count.I don’t see this move by Zillow as making any significant change in that picture. Perhaps in really small markets that previously didn’t have anyone doing much in the way non-framed IDX it will matter. But those places are few and far between.
        The real SEO value in sites using the Diverse plugin requires configuration time and taking a moment to understand your strategic approach to your market/geography/pricepoints/etc. Which is then followed up with a clear content plan (and executing that plan). Many on the low end never had time for that anyway so I don’t see an influx of well-configured sites full of relevant content into the market because of this. That said, the on-ramp just got a metric ton shorter and if people see value in using their sites, they’ll learn the little tricks and tips and take time for strategy. I see this as good for the consumer who is seeking someone who can publicly demonstrate a thorough understanding of their geography/market/price/etc.

        • @Gahlord Dewald “I see this as good for the consumer who is seeking someone who can publicly demonstrate a thorough understanding of their geography/market/price/etc.”
          Not to pick a fight. But. :) 
          How does having a (really good) real estate search solution demonstrate understanding of a market? If 5 or 10 or 50 agents in the same market place have the same solution without accompanying insight and commentary, aren’t they providing the same thing?
          I think it’s a great push for Z, but don’t see the differentiating value for the individual agents.

        •  @jimduncan The search is table stakes. The SEO value comes from the surrounding content and the Diverse plugin is good for making that happen.We agree. You’re right that having the search shows nothing. It’s table stakes. Doesn’t even help SEO all that much.The content around the search, however, does demonstrate value/knowledge. This move is good for consumers because it will further highlight the difference between those who simply have a search enabled site vs those who show the meaning behind those search results/property lists.All the IDX solutions are pretty much the same as it is. They have to be because that’s how the policies work. The differentiation comes with the content around it.These $10/month websites will make it easier for site owners to stop stressing about the part that doesn’t matter as much (the search) and start focusing on the part that does (the content) through the use of a tool that is superior (WordPress) to what they were using (some piece of junk).We agree far far more than we disagree on this, Jim.  

        •  @jimduncan one of these days I’ll take the time to figure out how to shove a line break so I can make proper paragraphs in Livefyre.

        •  @Gahlord Dewald  Hey Gahlord, Dhara here from Livefyre. Doesn’t hitting Enter/Return introduce a line break for you? Just making sure you aren’t using “Shift +Enter”, since the comment box doesn’t recognize that command at the moment.

  5. @1000wattmarc beginning of the end of http://t.co/CKydDMIL and outdated real estate marketing. Now it’s all real marketing. It’ll be fun

    • @Skonefsky Not sure if it’s the beginning of the end. Could be the end of something old & the beginning of something new.

      • @1000wattmarc I agree, but only for those who can take themselves out of an outdated mindset. Trade assoc’s can’t. Entrepreneurs can.

  6. @GeoffONeil So, they’re just cookie-cutter websites? Great for older real estate crowd, I guess.

    • @ronschott Facebook had a nice laugh at your comment.

      • @GeoffONeil The two are not even remotely related. I think it’s a great tool for novice internet users… but way to be a dick

        • @ronschott I’m being a dick? Do you realize how condescending you sound in your previous tweet?

        • @GeoffONeil Pot.. meet Kettle. I was saying it’s cool. Just that it was low level… wasn’t saying it was bad.

        • @GeoffONeil As a Z stock holder… I’m probably not inclined to root against them.

        • @ronschott My fb comment is relevant though. Having http://t.co/AHGNm6Ra is very similar. Just a more direct audience

        • @GeoffONeil Didn’t see that part (Which is awesome). How much $ does it take to be a Zillow Premier Agent?

        • @ronschott Pricing depends on region/demand I believe.

        • @GeoffONeil So, is that like what Justin “sells” then?

        • @ronschott Yes

        • @GeoffONeil Dude, we can scheudle B-Lot posts now (or soon.. depending on what server we’re on) http://t.co/RU7G2nQE

    • @ronschott But yes, its geared toward those who don’t have the time/money/skills to maintain their own website.

      • @GeoffONeil At $10/month… its’ a freaking steal!~

      • @GeoffONeil Most people would pay that much just to host… this way they get the whole package, which is money.

  7. @rosigreen Are design examples for agent sites available? I have couple more questions too. Where do I get more info on this?

  8. Syndonography.

  9. my predictation, they are templated and the more agents use them will result more in SEO growth for Zillow in SERP space.

  10. Looks like all the DS clients like me just got thrown under the bridge.

  11. WOW!  Talk about throwing the Diverse Solutions clients under the bus.  I guess i can cancel my DS account and get the same thing for $10/month

    •  @EdNeuhaus Ed – Jay T. from Zillow here. There is no intention to throw existing Diverse Solutions clients under the bus. The Zillow Premier Agent Website product offers an inexpensive WordPress solution that while full-featured, does eliminate some things like the ability to add plugins, themes and widgets. It also removes the ability to edit core code, plugins and CSS. This is all done for security reasons (pretty much the same reason WordPress.com limits features). If you need full and complete control, then you should absolutely stay with your current provider/host and DS. 

  12. Over the years I recall social media/web/blog guru conference speakers sharing that the only way to go was owning your own content.  Apparently for some of them, now a $10 per month templated website is the way go? What gives?   

    •  @kenbrand I still believe that owning your own content is important. The wordpress platform allows for this and makes the content portable. I’d have to see the Zillow product to see if they’ve turned that off, but I’d be very surprised if they have. With the WordPress platform you continue to own your content both in terms of copyright and in terms of practicality (ability to export the database).There’s nothing wrong with templates either, for the record. Templates performance simply depends on the appropriateness of the design for the audience. I’ve seen $10k custom sites perform worse than free template sites. There is little to no relationship between performance and custome design vs template.What Z is offering here is the core functionality of contemporary real estate website for $10/month. The Faustian bargain is that you are now paying Zillow that $10 instead of a web vendor. Plus whatever is in the details. How Faustian it truly is will be discovered over the next few days I’m sure as we all dig into the meat of the agreement and of the code that is produced.For many many real estate professionals, what is being offered by Zillow is better than what they have access to now in terms of usability, SEO, and real estate search capabilities. 

    •  @kenbrand I want to re-iterate that what makes content ownable on a WordPress site is the ability to export the content database. If Zillow isn’t allowing that then I’ll be first in line to explain how the service is not good for real estate professionals.

      •  @Gahlord Dewald This issue can’t be emphasized enough, though with a well known company I’d imagine they know better than to make it difficult to migrate content OUT of the platform. Mind you, this is a challenge with WP no matter what, at least this is what I’ve found to be the case.
        Overall, I’d always recommend just spending a little money upfront and having a site built in WP on some server/ISP space you pay for directly (hostgator for e.g. or whatever). Proprietary platforms seem to always turn messy for people. There really is no excuse anymore for having a terrible website/blog. WP is free. Hosting services are reasonable. And you can hire it done for relatively cheap if you’re smart about it and find a WP savvy designer who doesn’t sell you a bill of goods you don’t need.

        •  @karriflatla WP Database Backup is a plugin that makes it fairly painless to take content out of a WP site and load it into a new WP site somewhere else. It’s not terribly difficult but it is more difficult than sending an email to support. ;)I agree that it’s better to have your own site on your own domain (which it appears Zillow offers as an option) with your own host. But $10/month is hard to beat for all that. It’s a really really low price. How proprietary Z gets with it will determine how messy it is. I don’t think they’ll need to be very proprietary about it and still get what they need from the service.

        •  @Gahlord Dewald Yeah, I use WP Backup. But it’s not “readable” format, at least to my knowledge. Which would be cool/useful. Ten bucks/mo. IS hard to beat. Personally, I would still rather have direct control. Proprietary platforms seem to always create *mess* for people, at least in my experience when I was consulting.

        •  @Gahlord Dewald …plus there’s the SEO aspect which is almost always poorly executed. Mind you, WP makes this pretty painless so hopefully that part isn’t ruined :)

        •  @karriflatla I definitely would prefer direct control and continue to believe that this is the ideal. Some people won’t have the time/budget/attention, the sort of people who end up on the sub-par systems today. <br/>Load the contents of your backup into a SQL database and you can read it that way. It’s really no big deal. 

        • @Gahlord Dewald@karriflatla Jay T here from Zillow. Export functionality (that which is built into WordPress) was just added to Premier Agent Websites.  
          Export functionality is now live on the Premier Agent Websites. Agents can chose to export posts, pages, community pages or “all content” – posts, pages, comments, custom fields, terms, navigation menus and custom posts.
          Import functionality (to bring existing WordPress site posts, comments, etc) will be added in the next few days.

        •  @Jay Thompson  @karriflatla Glad to hear that Jay!

        • @! @Jay Thompson  Can you confirm for me that the import functionality has been added?

        •  @John Treck Yes, import (as well as export) functionality is included in the Zillow Premier Agent websites.

      •  @Gahlord Dewald  @kenbrand Zillow IS allowing content to be exported (import functionality is a couple of days away). If an agent wants to take their free domain name elsewhere, they can do that too (though they will be required to transfer the domain registration). My name is Jay T. and I work for Zillow.

  13. @kenbrand agree with you. this is just ‘more blah’ as you might say.

  14. @rickgorod I read about this last night going to check it out!

  15. @kenbrand interesting point, but generally it’s the platform ur paying for. Content should ALWAYS be urs. Not sure this is the case for…

  16. @kenbrand (cont’d…) Plus ppl often run into nightmares when using proprietary site software. Migrating later can be a nightmare.

    • @karriflatla i agree. Eventual migration would be certain 4 those who understand the value. Choose independent now, avoid dependence.

      • @kenbrand YES! Proprietary software is always tricky. And from an #SEO perspective …well, blech! =) #realestate #marketing

  17. Guess you have to be Zillow to get press like this – not just on AGB.  Other IDX vendors, like iHomefinder (which provides the IDX offering for MRED), have been doing WordPress for some time. 

  18. @AllThingsBHGRE No I will not.
    BHGRE Metrobrokers agents have had our own professional websites 4 years, as well as in house tech support

  19. I guess this is how Z is using their recent purchase of Diverse Solutions? They wanted the feeds and the plugin. 

  20. MONSTER conversation going on in the RTB Facebook group about this (168 comments so far!) *squeal!* https://www.facebook.com/groups/RaiseTheBar/permalink/299540400138862/

  21. @Prompton http://t.co/fGEhgtYB

  22. looks good, i have some clients in the real estate business.. will work for them! thanks for the post and keep up the good work! :)

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