Zillow’s other big announcement: higher quality leads for Premier Agents

Zillow’s concierge service will connect agents with validated buyers and sellers instantly for phone calls or texts at times of mutual convenience

Zillow Group this month plans to roll out a new update to its Premier Agent program that will now filter quality buyer and seller leads directly to agents 24/7, the Seattle-based company announced.

The rollout will begin later this month in Butte, Montana, and then expand nationwide this year, according to a Zillow announcement on Thursday. It will allow agents paying to participate in Zillow’s Premier Agent program to text or talk by phone to potential buyers after being validated by a Zillow representative. The update will allow potential buyers to schedule calls during a time that’s convenient for all parties, rather than spontaneously, a Zillow executive said on Thursday.

“We’re really moving away from the concept of a lead, and we’re really moving to the concept of validated human beings,” said Greg Schwartz, chief business officer at Zillow Group, in a promotional video Thursday. “We’re going to qualify that consumer to make sure they’re serious about buying or selling, that they really want to move forward, and then we’re going to find out when they want to talk to an agent. It could be immediately or it could be the next day.”

Through Premier Agent’s concierge system, buyers can immediately schedule a time to connect with an agent, but if the agent misses a call from a validated client, he or she won’t lose their place in the queue. Instead, the agent will receive a call from the next qualified buyer.

At last count in late 2017, Zillow’s Premier Agent mobile app had 150,000 active users, though the company officially stopped reporting numbers of Premier Agent advertiser customers overall (on desktop and mobile) beginning in 2017, saying the metric was misleading, given some of those customers were teams and not individual agents.

Agents must pay to place advertisements for themselves on Zillow (and its brand Trulia) through Zillow’s Premier Agent program. The Premier Agent program accounts for the bulk of Zillow’s revenue– some 71 percent, according to Zillow’s latest investor presentation for the first quarter of 2018.

In the same presentation, the company said it expects annual revenue to grow from $1.077 billion in 2017 to $1.309 billion in 2018.

The latest Premier Agent update came on the same day as Zillow announced it would expand into the iBuyer market with plans to buy and sell up to 1,000 homes by the end of 2018 in Phoenix and Las Vegas, markets that last year experienced growth in sales activity and property values.

The program, which comes one year after the launch of Zillow Instant Offers, the Seattle-based company’s proprietary marketplace for iBuyers, will partner the company with Premier Agent partners to ensure that agents have a stake in the sales transaction, according to executives.

“Just like before, when a potential home seller says I’d like to get an investment offer for my home, we will provide an offer and alongside that we will again provide a [comparative market analysis] from one of our Premier Agents,” Zillow Chief Industry Development Officer Errol Samuelson said on Thursday. “Now, in the event that the home seller decides they wish to go for the instant offer, we’ll be working with a local agent at a local brokerage in the market to represent us as the buyer of the home and we will also recommend that the seller work with the local agent. In fact, we’ll introduce the seller to one of our Premier Agent customers.”

Article by Jotham Sederstrom

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