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Zillow banks on new Special Offers feature to entice agents to pay up

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.”

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Tina Merritt

    October 7, 2011 at 6:40 am

    I like the Zillow's site. Unlike many RE peeps, I don't view Zillow as the "enemy". I think Zillow has captured what the consumer wants as far as information goes. Too many brokerages fail to meet that need. That being said, I despise Zillow's telemarketing sales strategy aimed at the real estate industry. Zillow is an online business; and, as an agent-customer, I should be able to conduct business with them online, NOT via telephone. Zillow, your constant sales calls are annoying and soooo 1985. Fix it.

  2. Steve Roesch

    October 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I agree with Tina. I got a call from Zillow and because I wasn't interested in giving them a Pro Account, he said, "I'm sorry, I confused you for someone that wants to increase their business". Well excuse me, insulting the customer never works. Well Zillow, you are still pulling my 20 listings to your site via IDX. And guess what? I'm still getting calls from buyers surfing your site, without me giving you a DIME! I think I'll take the Non Premium Service please and you can keep insulting other agents.

  3. Sara Bonert

    October 7, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Sara from Zillow here. Steve- fortunately (or unfortunately for one sales person) we keep track of all outbound calls, so we will certainly follow up internally on your comment. I am sorry about that comment and certainly not the tone we endorse here at Zillow. I am glad the free exposure Zillow offers agents is working for you and hope you continue to take advantage of it. Tina- along the same lines, as I said, all calls are logged with one of the goals being that we don't bombard any one particular agent. We will look into the frequency of which you were called and see what happened. One of the beauties of this new product is that they can be fulfilled online, so hopefully that partially addresses your desire for more online interaction.

  4. Collier Swecker

    October 9, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    In my opinion Zillow is out there not trying to be a partner with the agents but rather lure them in and then turn around raise their rates once an agent has been a paying member for some time. After 2 years my rates just jumped 800%, needless to say I told them not to bother calling back and to cancel my ads. Every single time they call you, magically a price increase was right around the corner. On a different note, I can't tell you how many Realtors and consumers are turned off by Zillow's inaccurate Zestimates which Zillow must know to not be accurate and I think are not transparent with that fact. I do want to say that there are some nice and smart folks working at Zillow.

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