Two new features on Zillow
Today, Zillow added two features, both aimed at real estate professionals rather than consumers. First, agents that pay to use the Premier Agent Program will be able to add a logo or their own picture to all of their listings, a branding move that is long overdue for the Zillow offering, and one that agents have likely requested for some time.
In addition to being able to better brand themselves, agents in the Premier Agent Program can use “Zillow Special Offers” which allows agents to add an offer for homebuyers who find a listing on Zillow. Zillow told AGBeat that the new program is “designed for sellers who are interested in providing an incentive at closing. It’s a marketing vehicle that helps to shine a strong spotlight on those properties that the agent, working with the seller, has decided to market in an additional way to the millions of shoppers looking for homes on Zillow,” adding that the program is a “way to merchandise, market and differentiate a listing through a seller-funded concession.”
Because Zillow users will be able to filter their search by only looking for “Zillow Special Offers,” and they will be featured at the top of the search results, the media company is likely banking on the fact that in a down market when everyone is deal hunting, consumers will search first for what they perceive to be the best deals (as “Special Offers” sounds like a coupon or a price reduction). The new feature could act like glue, attracting agents into the pay-to-play model which some may enter out of desperation to sell a listing, some may sign up out of hope for more exposure, others may sign up because they feel forced to, others will simply start using the service they already pay for, and others will do so because the seller is aware of the option to do so. Regardless, anything that resembles a coupon is hot right now and other real estate search giants may find their own way to compete with this feature.
Zillow says, “The seller may feel an added incentive will help their listing be more attractive to buyers – whether it is new on the market, in need of new appliances, or lacking blinds. These seller-funded incentives give buyers a little something extra after closing such as $3,000 credit off closing costs or a gift card to go buy those new appliances or blinds … extras that make the listing stand out.”