What Do The Significant Changes for Premier Agent Mean?

Zillow’s recently announced new screening process for leads appears ready for the market. This new rollout has meaningful impacts for both consumers and agents.

Instead of chasing leads, you have more time to focus on what matters — building relationships and closing deals. — Zillow

For consumers, what was previously an instant connection with a Premier Agent on the other side of the ‘contact me’ form may no longer be so, now subject to a vetting process through Zillow. For agents, leads that were once able to be called back at a later time are now shuffled on to the next available agent (unless the lead specifically selected that agent) and lead volume is likely to decline.

The flip side of course is that agents now get passed (potentially) more qualified leads, while consumers may not get through to an agent.

“Quality buyer leads for Premier Agents and Brokers”

Agents rightfully complain about lead quality from Zillow because leads are not qualified, already working with an agent, or poking around and just asking questions.

On both sides of the equation (buyers and sellers), how Zillow qualifies leads will be interesting. Are they simply just asking questions about pre-approvals, estimated timelines, and if they’re already working with an agent, or are they reviewing that user’s search activity on Zillow to better understand how actively they’re searching? It would be quite interesting to run into a scenario during a screening where a prospect says they’re pre-approved for up to $250,000 but have exclusively been looking at $10M dollar homes on Zillow. How well can you qualify that lead?

“Serious seller leads for Premier Agents and Brokers”

Zillow will incorporate their Instant Offers program and continue to expand that throughout the country. By reaching potential sellers and engaging their interest in an all cash offer from Zillow, the company can better gauge how ready the seller is to move forward. If the seller doesn’t accept the offer, Zillow pass the lead through to a seller’s agent.

What about Consumers?

While it appears that Zillow is serious about putting agents first by ensuring their dollars invested in lead gen with Zillow result in higher quality leads, it will likely exclude buyers or sellers who perhaps aren’t ready yet, but represent a long term prospect for agents.

The ultimate question of course is whether the vetting process produces a favorable tradeoff between lower volume, higher quality leads or higher volume, potentially lower quality leads?

What do you think? How well will Zillow qualify leads? Will consumers drop off the phone once they’re called for a screening? Should agents ramp up their spend on Zillow?