Zillow Flex is a new program that real estate agents can use to get referrals from Zillow. But how does it work, and is it worth the 35% referral fee? We break it down for you in this blog post.
As a busy real estate agent, you’re always looking for new leads. And if you’re like most agents, you’re probably pretty familiar with Zillow. After all, it’s one of the most popular home-buying websites out there.
So when I heard about Zillow Flex – a new program that allows agents to get referrals from Zillow – I was intrigued. But how does it work? And is it worth the 35% referral fee?
I did some digging and here’s what I found.
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What is Zillow Flex and how does it work
Zillow Flex is a new program that allows agents to get referrals from Zillow. For a 35% referral fee, agents can receive leads from Zillow with no upfront cost.
The leads are similar to the current Zillow Premier Agent leads in which agents pay upfront for a zip code and receive all leads in that zip code. However, with Flex, agents only pay for the leads they close at the end of the transaction.
In addition, agents can use the program to get more exposure for their business. They receive a featured profile picture, agent bio, and contact information on Zillow’s website.
So how does it work?
When a consumer submits a request through Zillow’s website, they are connected with an agent in their area. That agent then has the opportunity to work with the consumer and close the transaction. If the agent doesn’t close the transaction, they don’t pay anything.
Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?
Keep reading, there’s more you need to know.
How to get started with Zillow Flex
At this time, Zillow Flex is only open in certain markets and by invitation only to “high-performing partners”. Currently, Zillow Flex is the exclusive lead distribution model in Phoenix, Atlanta, and a few other select markets around the county.
As Zillow identifies willing and able agents to participate in the program, they are slowly transitioning out of their Premier Agent program that sells leads by zip code.
So if you’re interested in Zillow Flex, your best bet is to reach out to your local Zillow representative and express your interest.
Pros and Cons of Zillow Flex
Now that we know what Zillow Flex is and how to get started, let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
- There is no upfront cost to join
- Agents only pay for the leads they close
- Agents can get more exposure for their business
- The 35% referral fee is a bit high
- There is no guarantee of leads
- The conversion ratio is similar to Premier Agent or Google PPC leads (~5%) so agents must work many dead-ends to close a deal
- Must be selected by Zillow to participate
So is Zillow Flex worth it?
That’s a tough question to answer. On one hand, it’s a great program for agents who are looking for more exposure and don’t mind paying a higher referral fee. On the other hand, the program is still in its early stages and has some kinks to work out.
Only time will tell if Zillow Flex is here to stay. But in the meantime, it’s definitely worth reaching out to your local Zillow representative and expressing your interest.
How does the 35% referral fee work
Zillow calls the 35% referral fee their “Success fee” for closing a transaction. This fee is paid at closing on any transaction Zillow has procured.
When you work with Zillow Flex you’ll log all details of the status of any lead within the Zillow Premier Agent app, including once the client goes under contract.
Once under contract, you complete a form and choose between two options of payment for the success fee.
- Option 1 is to pay through a closing service or title company.
- Option 2 is to pay Zillow directly after closing.
In either case, Zillow periodically checks in with leads to verify the status and ensure agents are upholding their end of the agreement.
How to maximize your profits with Zillow Flex
If you search for Zillow Flex reviews, you’ll find many mixed opinions.
In my opinion, Zillow Flex leads are no different than the current Zillow Premier Agent leads or even Google PPC leads, for that matter.
They can be great options if you have the proper expectations going in and are willing to put in the effort to get a deal to closing.
The typical conversion ratio for a lead of this quality is around 5% (if you’re really working them). This involves a solid follow-up process, good closing skills, and your overall ability to connect with a semi-warm lead and make them want to work with you.
Some of the most important things to remember with any internet lead, including Zillow flex are:
- Speed To Lead – Calling internet leads in the first 5 minutes increases your conversion ratio of that lead by over 2100%!
- Multiple Follow Up Exposures – It often takes between 6-8 attempts to get in touch with an internet lead. Don’t give up too early. Switch up your method for contact. Don’t just call and text. Send an audio message or even better, a customized video text.
- It’s The Long Game – Remember many internet leads are just starting their journey. Plus, a lot of your ROI will come from repeat and referral business down the road. Don’t judge a lead source before you’ve given it enough time to really impact your business.
Can I Get Removed From The Program
Zillow tracks the performance of all agents participating in the Flex program. If Zillow sees agents underperforming (closing a smaller percentage of leads given compared with other agents) they may remove you from the program.
Keep in mind that Zillow has massive data on leads and agent performance across the country. Zillow does have an inside sales team that does their best to pre-qualify opportunities so that when they transfer the lead to the agent, they’ve already been somewhat screened.
Also, Zillow has training for agents to ensure they have the best follow-up processes in place. This training comes from other agents across the country who’ve had good success with both their Premier Agent Platform and the current Flex system.
How to decide if using Zillow Flex is the best option for you
To decide if Zillow Flex is something you should look into further, you should consider the following:
Will you qualify for the program?
Zillow is currently only partnering with “High-performing agents” in markets they are currently looking to offer this program to. If you are new or just haven’t closed many transactions recently, you may not qualify to be a Zillow Flex Realtor.
Is it worth it to pay 35% to Zillow compared to other options?
If you are a high-producing agent and you’re not currently getting deals from Zillow, does it make sense to pick this additional lead source compared with other lead generation options available? This depends on how much work you want to do.
In my opinion, you could generate the same quality of Zillow leads by running Google PPC ads to a landing page that converts traffic into leads. I’ve found that in most markets you can generate a Google lead for between $10-$20 (while some high dollar markets can be up to $50 per lead).
Assuming a 5% conversion ratio, that means you need around 20 leads to close a deal. $20 times $20 per lead would be around $400 for a closed deal.
If your average commission (on a Google PPC quality lead) is around $7,500 that would be much cheaper than sending over $2600 for Zillow leads (35% times $7,500).
Do you want to work with Buyer Leads?
Zillow Flex leads are going to be primarily buyer leads. Some will have a home to sell as well but I’ve found that out of 4 closed buyer deals with similar quality leads only 1 will have a home to sell. This means you’ll be working with many more buyers than sellers.
This may be your preference but as you know it’s much more difficult to scale a buyer-based business than it is with listings. That said, there are many more buyers to work with currently so it might seem more productive currently to work with buyers and build your book of business so that in later years, you’ll have a database of sellers to remarket to.
Alternatives to using Zillow Flex
If Zillow Flex doesn’t seem like something you’d like to participate in or perhaps you’re not qualified for this type of program, there are many alternatives.
Sign up for Zillow Premier Agent – this is their current program which offers a lot of features and is open to all agents.
YouTube – Create helpful, hyper-local real estate-related videos to get in front of your target audience.
Google PPC Ads, Bing PPC Ads, or Facebook Ads – Learn how to post your own Google PPC ads and generate similar quality leads to those using Zillow Flex (but for less money).
Generate leads through your own personal website or blog – this can be done through online advertising, SEO, or social media.
Look into real estate lead generation companies – there are many reputable companies that offer high-quality leads for a fee like Boomtown, Real Geeks, Placester, or YLOPO.
Work with a real estate coach – this is someone who specializes in helping real estate agents generate more leads, create systems, and make more money.
Offline methods like direct mail or door-knocking – this may be more difficult in today’s market because of the high competition but can still be a viable option in certain markets and use cases.
So, is Zillow Flex worth it? I’ve given you the pros and cons, as well as my personal opinion.
The bottom line is that this new lead source could be a great help if you know how to make use of it correctly, but it could also end up being more of a hassle than it’s worth.
If you decide to give it a try, make sure to take advantage of all the resources available to you so that your experience goes as smoothly as possible. And always remember – nothing ventured, nothing gained!
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