Real estate is becoming increasingly digital. Zillow.com and other brands like Trulia.com and Realtor.com are the first destinations most buyers and sellers go before deciding to make a move. They feel they can get free information 24/7 and they don’t have to commit to anything or anyone.

Indeed, these platforms have become so well known that every single lead you will get will be a “Zillow lead”. Meaning that the buyer or seller will have stopped by Zillow first and will have his head full of the more or less accurate information he has gathered there.

This is even more important when dealing with foreigners who have limited familiarity with your area. They need the reassurance of a “big name” and the Internet is a perfect way to start.

Therefore you need to be prepared and act accordingly as soon as you have your first contact with a prospect, which can happen in a number of ways, depending on your marketing model.

The best way to start is with referrals: people will come to you directly following the advice of someone they trust, a real person. This is a level of confidence that Zillow and the like will never be able to emulate.

But even if they are already willing to work with you, they will do their homework online. This is the moment when you need to beat Zillow at its own game. But what is it? We are naturally talking about data collection and compilation. The beauty of the web is that you can find a host of relevant information in a very short time and get a general feeling of what you looking at.

Zillows Limits

Yet the limit of Zillow and the like is that they don’t have all the relevant facts. They operate mostly on public records, without the support of MLS data. They can never get inside a house and cannot really evaluate the current state of a neighborhood or a location.

How can Zillow truthfully assist someone who is looking for a place where to relocate or is searching for a vacation home? Its approach is too general and it could not be otherwise. Additionally,  its automatic valuation system is often wrong and cannot be relied upon in preparing an offer or in determining a sale price.

That said, yet you cannot just walk up to a customer and say: “Zillow is wrong.” You would look defensive and unprofessional. The best way is to provide graphics and statistics that communicate the true numbers and your competence. They need to be visually attractive and easy to grasp. But, at the same time, they must be detailed and narrowly targeted to a very specific neighborhood.

The buying and selling incubation process is getting longer, therefore you also need to frequently update your customers and provide them with free quality data that they can access 24/7. This is very important. After talking to you, they will always do her “due diligence” by themselves, and you must be their trusted source. It can be a web site or a Facebook page, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure it is always available for them when they need it.

The person will make up her mind by herself and eventually will work with you. You also need a follow-up process that isn’t obnoxious. Start by listening. Be interested. Become what Zillow will never be: culturally aware. Follow up and be consistent in your approach. It will eventually pay off.

Roberto Mazzoni

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