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— by Hana LaRock

What Brokers Can Do To Stay Level With “Owned By Zillow”

For some real estate brokers, “Zillow” may be a word that’s banned from the home and office. It’s kind of like the “Voldemort” of the business…you just don’t speak its name if you don’t want to make people uncomfortable. On the other hand, those who can come to terms with it and just accept Zillow for all its glory, well, the better off they may be.  

Over the last few weeks, Zillow has reinvented the real estate game by taking on their own listings. This has made many brokers quite apprehensive towards the industry.  

According Nick Baldwin, co-founder of Lab Coat Agents says, “You want to survive in this industry? Here’s some of what you need to do more of…” 

Prioritize Your Customers 

One of the reasons people like Zillow’s new business model is because they feel as though their needs aren’t being met with a broker. Many people hire brokers to help with the process, because they don’t feel like they can do it on their own. Zillow’s new approach, however, has demonstrated to buyers and sellers that a broker is no longer necessary.  

But, before you lose your wits, remember that just as there are people who prefer paying their bills in person, meeting with someone face to face instead of over the phone, or cooking their own food versus going to a restaurant, there will always be people who prefer working with a human directly — a broker. They don’t trust this new system, and they may never. Your job now is to hone in on these types of customers, find out what it is that they like about using a broker vs. a computer, and crack down. If you make your current customers and future clients a priority, business will still continue to come in.  

Streamline Everything You Can 

Another reason people may prefer the Zillow method is because it takes the headaches out of buying or selling a home. When Noel and Patricia Levine of Arizona contacted Zillow to help sell their home, they described it as an easy process. According to a conversation Noel Levine had with Geekwire, he didn’t have to worry about the “trials” and “tribulations” of listing the home, showing the home, closing the home, and all the stress and “what if’s” in between.  

Zillow now lets users get an offer on their home in just a few clicks of a button. First, the clients fill out a survey. Then an inspector comes to the home. After inspecting, Zillow provides an offer. If the seller likes it, forms are signed, a closing date is set, and Zillow takes it from there.  

Most brokers would have to admit that this process is pretty ingenious. Unfortunately, though, if people like this too much, they will no longer have a need for a broker and jobs will cease to exist. This isn’t too different from what Uber did to the taxi industry, Netflix did to (some of) the movie industry, and Airbnb did to the hospitality industry.  

But, you can compete with this. If you know that the one thing that buyers and sellers hate most about working with a broker (not that it’s your fault), it’s the process. And, though you can’t change much about the process, you can find ways to streamline as much of it as possible, so that your client doesn’t have to stress. Luckily, there are many apps and resources out there to help you. For instance, Xome Signings is an app used to make sure all parties involved receive all the appropriate documents, and can sign them in a timely manner. Never stop taking advantage of all the resources out there that are available to you to make your life and your clients’ lives easier.  

Offer More Where You Can 

Streamlining the process so that it’s easier for your clients is just one of the many ways in which you can lure them closer to you and further away from Zillow. But, that’s not the only way. Real estate brokers, if they really want to, can offer what companies like Zillow can’t. This could mean anything from a free consultation, to a small discount on broker fees, to a closing gift that they won’t be able to say no to.  

Stop Worrying 

Zillow may be making headlines, but it’s going to be a long time before this becomes the norm. Even if Zillow is rapidly successful with their new model, there’s going to be plenty of clients who won’t be familiar with it and won’t want to be familiar with it. After all, even after Uber, Netflix, and Airbnb, there are still taxi drivers, movie theaters, and hotels, and people still prefer them. And, after Zillow, there will still be real estate brokers.  

Tristan Ahumada, co-founder of Lab Coat Agents says, “We can all learn from what Zillow is doing. They have listened to the consumer. Now it’s your turn.” 

So, for now, stop worrying, pull yourself together, apply these strategies, and remind yourself that Zillow has nothing on you! 

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