In this training episode we’re covering everything you need to know about buying leads from Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com. To begin you can listen to the podcast episode here and read the rest of the article below.
Should you buy leads from Zillow, Trulia, and/or Realtor.com?
Are they worth your money?
Which ones are better?
These are some pretty common questions I get from real estate agents. They are good questions, but these agents are asking the wrong things.
The RIGHT question to ask is….
I would like to generate more Cold Online Leads from Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com. What are the best practices for generating more leads from these websites and what should I know about them.
The right questions will always dig deeper into what the real truth is. Unfortunately, when it comes to Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com marketing there is often no easy single answers.
Each one of these platforms has the potential to generate substantial leads for any agent. However, they don’t all produce the same results for all agents. There are several variables which can each play a role in whether this type of marketing will work for any one particular real estate agent.
In this article, video, and podcast I’m going to break it all down for you so you can make the best decision when it comes to purchasing Zip Codes Leads from Zillow, Trulia, and/or Realtor.com. This is the information your brokers simply don’t know, and what most other agents will not share with you.
First let me answer the three questions I posted above.
Should you buy leads from Zillow, Trulia, and/or Realtor.com?
It depends on what your marketing plan is. These can provide cold lead sources for your business. But you’ll have to understand how to work and qualify these lead sources. Plus, make sure you have a good system in place for responding back to these leads quickly.
Are they worth your money?
They can be if you’re able to convert these leads into buyers. There is no guarantee that you’ll get an actual qualified buyer.
Each one of these leads will be in a different step along the home buying process. Some leads are ready to buy today, while others are at least six months away from when they will be ready to buy. In both case, these are good leads. It’s just how you manage them.
Which ones are better?
I wouldn’t say that any one of these is better than the other. I’ve seen agents produce phenomenal results on Zillow, but have had really bad results on Trulia for the same zip code. I’ve also seen other agents do great on Trulia with poor results on the other platforms.
Different agents and different zip codes will just produce varying results. I wish I had a better answer there for you, but it’s the truth I see from my experience.
How Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com lead systems work…
Before you can make an educated decision about purchasing leads from these companies we have to make sure you understand how these marketing programs work.
Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com all sell what I call “Cold Zip Code Leads”. These are inquiries from buyers who are on these websites and searching for homes. The buyers see a real estate agents profile picture along with some minimal information in the agent advertising space and then makes contact from there by entering info and clicking. When the agent purchases these leads they are purchasing them from one specific zip code. Ads are sold to be placed into only one single zip code.
Example of Agent Advertising Space on Zillow for a Non-Featured Listing
Example of Agent Advertising Space on Zillow for a Featured Listing
(NOTE: on Trulia the setup is almost identical)
All three of the websites usually require the agent purchase these leads in a contract for a minimum of six months. The prices for these leads vary from each zip code. The main variable which determines the costs is the amount of search activity taking place in that zip code. The more prospects that search in the specified zip code, then the higher the price will be for purchasing those leads from it.
There is no guarantee to how many leads you will actually get from any one of these programs. However, the sales reps who work for these companies will usually try to hard sell you on them because of the success they say they’re seeing other agents having with it. Be really careful about that when you do get a sales call from one of these reps.
Leads generated are then filtered into the built-in CRM on each one of these platforms and an email is generated and sent to your inbox.
Zillow and Trulia sell ads for listings which are “non-Featured”. This means if an agent doesn’t pay to Feature a listing on Zillow/Trulia then they will sell advertising space adding an additional 3 agents to the listing. If the listing is Featured then no advertising space by other agents is sold.
If you’re an agent this one should really make your blood boil….
Realtor.com operates a little differently. If you don’t purchase a Featured listings package on Realtor.com then the leads from the listing are all sold to whomever purchases that zip code. Your information is on the actual listing, but the contact form will not be connected to the agent. Leads generated by call in’s to the posted phone number or by using the contact form are submitted to Realtor.com and then handed down to the agent who is purchasing those leads.
At least on Zillow and Trulia you share the advertising space equally for a non Featured Listing. You don’t really get that with Realtor.com.
Example of a Listing on Realtor.com without a Featured Listings Package
Example of a Listing on Realtor.com with a Featured Listings Package
Why Different Agents get Different Results
Several factors go into determining how effective these advertising programs will work and I’ll list them out here for you.
1. Incomplete or Partially Incomplete Profiles.
Many agents will purchase these leads but have incomplete profiles. This is a huge mistake and you’re literally just throwing away money if you don’t have a completed profile with a good pictures, reviews, and closed sales info.
2. Bad Profile Pictures.
This is pretty common. Many real estate agents have a huge problem with their profile pictures. Some pictures are really outdated and others are super cheesey with the typical “Salesperson” pose.
3. Some Zip Codes Just Don’t Produce Leads.
Certain zip codes just don’t produce the amount of qualified leads you’re going to want. Usually, the lower and uppers ends of the property searches can produce mixed results for lead generation from these websites. Your middle markets are always going to produce the best results.
There is also some other variable at play here. Sometimes its just changing up your profile picture which can make the difference. During a six month contract of purchasing zip code leads if you’re getting poor results you have to change something up and since your profile picture is the most obvious point of distinction on the advertisement just changing it for something better can turn it around for you.
Lastly, sometimes Zillow and Trulia oversell the advertising space for a single zip code. If you want to see an example of this in real time simply go to Zillow or Trulia and pick a popular zip code in your area to search for properties on. Then search for properties and choose one property which is not featured. Next, refresh your web browser several times.
You’ll see the list of agents names in the ad space change over. Count to see how many different agents are purchasing zip codes and how many times you have to refresh the page to have them all repeat. If it takes several refreshes then there are too many agents on that single zip code. When this happens the zip code advertising space becomes too diluted and will generate poorer results.
4. Follow Up, Nurturing, and Qualifying Leads.
It’s so important to realize that not all leads which come in from these ads are ready to buy now. Many agents are expecting to quickly qualify buyers and write up a contract from a Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com lead. It simply doesn’t work that way.
Concentrate on starting to build a relationship first than making a sale. All cold leads (even if they are ready to buy now) need some relationship building at first. Ask questions, find out more about what they are looking for, make small talk, be nice, and don’t try to hard sell them on a house.
A professional attitude, being courteous, and not being a pushy salesperson goes a long way when you’re first communicating with a cold lead on the phone or email.
Many of the leads you’ll get inquiries from will already be represented by an other agent. In many of these cases the prospect is looking for information online about properties and they may want a showing or just get some questions answered. They aren’t trying to waste your time, and don’t often realize they are if they already have representation. It’s important to know this on the first phone call you have with a lead.
Finally, many buyers will not be ready to buy at the moment they reach out to you. In these cases, it’s crucial you add them into your database and schedule follow up phone calls and emails. Many real estate agents are quick to drop these leads simply because they are not ready to buy now. Even more agents don’t have a database or follow up system in place to manage and nurture a lead like this.
5. Slow Response Times.
We live in a world where we get information instantaneously. Prospecting leads online expect to get an email, text, or phone call back quickly. Remember, this is a COLD lead and it can die off very quickly.
You’ll have to make sure you have the capability and drive to respond back promptly to these leads.
6. Pushy Phone Salespeople.
I cannot stress enough to be cautious when your talking to a salesperson from one of these companies. In my experience these are energetic pros at phone sales.
Don’t get caught up in all of the hype they are trying to sell you on. Typically, they will tell you a story of an agent in the proposed zip code who is really “crushing it” with these ads.
You can always ask for name of that agent and then look up the agent online and even contact him/her yourself to verify if what the salesperson is saying is actually true.
We’ve done this multiple times with agents to verify if what was being sold was actually true.
Should You Buy These Leads?
Each one of these websites can be used to create more lead generation into your business. I’ve met many agents who are successfully using each one of these platforms and performing well with them. On the other hand, I’ve met agents who have had poor results from their Cold Lead Zip Code ads on these websites.
Many zip code ads are not cheap ranging any where from $150/month to $300/month. With a six month commitment you can easily spend over $1000 on these ads. However, the payoff if you can convert just 2 leads from them will pay for itself and leave you with a profit.
Purchasing zip code leads from Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com should only be executed once you have all of your other basic marketing in place. For example, if you don’t have a basic database system to add prospects into then you should work on that first. Furthermore, you have to get your profiles 100% up to date with a good profile picture.
Make sure you have done the marketing basics first and see how these ads can fit into your overall marketing efforts to determine if it’s the best use of your time, money, and other valuable resources.
You can use my Real Estate Agent Marketing Plan to help you put together your own marketing plan for your business.
Finally, I want to make sure you know something about me and this article. I don’t love or hate any of these websites. They are not perfect, but not completely bad either for an agent to use in their business. One is not necessarily better than the other. I ask that you keep an open mind about these websites and don’t completely write them off because they all play a big role in how buyers and sellers are getting their real estate information today.
My job is to help you make a better informed choice about where and how you market your brand and listings online.
What to do now…
Are you purchasing leads from any of these websites now? If so, share your results and experiences with me here in the comment section below.
Hope you enjoyed this training article for real estate agents, see you on the next one. George
The Real Estate Agent Marketing Plan