By Tiana Baur
We’ve been talking a lot about Zillow Instant Offers. At some point, there will be buzz in your offices about them and your agents need to know how to clearly articulate their value. In our last post on this topic, we talked about what they potentially mean for agents and how important it is to continue to provide comfort and trust to their clients. But what does that mean in tangible terms? How does one properly position themselves then? Providing value, client satisfaction, and being the trusted advisor to all clients is easier said than done.
To review, Instant Offers works like this: It connects homeowners with investors, helping them receive multiple offers based on their “home details and comparative sales.” All the homeowner has to do is answer some questions, submit some photos, and pick an offer from a verified investor. They then schedule a free home inspection and close on the date they choose. Simple, painless, virtually no work done by the homeowner. There is an option to use a realtor, but the fact that homeowners don’t have to is the key.
Here’s how you can combat this and position your value proposition against it:
Have their back.
Agents need to keep doing what they’re good at. Show your prospects and clients that you care. That you’re human. That you’ll be with them every step of the way. Show them your unique knowledge of their neighborhood that you specialize in with articles and statistics and information that only you could know by working in the that area for a decade or even before Zillow existed. Agents are the experts.
If they’re thinking of using Instant Offers, show them why you’re worth it.
Instant Offers doesn’t answer phone calls at 2am when the home seller is crying and stressed because something unforeseen went wrong last minute during the transaction. Instant Offers doesn’t send a bottle of champagne to congratulate them on their great home sale. Instant Offers doesn’t promise to hold their hand from the very beginning, all the way until they’ve moved and settled into their new home. Instant Offers doesn’t care that the people who bought the home aren’t a right fit for the unique neighborhood’s culture. Agents do. Even if your prospect went this route, call them, check up on them, see how they’re doing. Chances are, they’ll regret their decision and realize they need to change their route.
Show you know more than an algorithm.
There are a lot of things an algorithm knows about people. Arguably, too much. But what they don’t know is that the house they’re trying to sell actually has more square footage than the neighbor’s house that sold last month, and because their view is only partially blocked, can actually make more than what Zillow Zestimates says it’s worth (which is wrong most of the time…ahem). The thing is, Zillow and these other websites are only as good as their data, which isn’t always accurate. Even an error margin of 8% (not uncommon with Zillow), means homeowners are missing out on money. The average listing fee is 6%, so even when it’s all said and done, you’d still be making more by going through an agent.
The bottom line.
Technology will continue to grow and evolve. Look at us. We’re a tech company that is changing the way the industry operates. The difference? We want to help the brokerage. Our entire business model is built around the purpose of making brokerages more profitable, by helping make their agents be more productive. Not all technology is out to eliminate agents from the real estate game. There will always be certain things in life that require a human element: Starting a family, comforting someone dear to you, and helping people find the right home to do both of those in.
We all heard the roar coming from NAR (National Association of Realtors) yesterday, who announced they will now be offering free
Placester websites. In the past, these have been offered for $5 bucks a pop, but now are completely “free.” The problem is, free doesn’t always mean free, and this news puts a big dent in the brokerage value proposition.
Moxi Works CEO, York Baur, weighed in saying, “It’s not good for the industry to have the NAR leveling the playing field for technology. The brokerage is the sun in the real estate solar system and should be allowed to create their own unique value proposition – we don’t need the NAR meddling in that.”
It’s important to note that none of these websites will carry brokerage branding. We believe it’s essential for brokerages to encourage agents to include brokerage branding, and although these sites can add your brand, it is not entirely automated. These sites are great for agents to create their own brand and image, but it also creates an extra step for the brokerage to maintain their brand and therefore becomes a headache.
“I hate things like this and brokerages should too. It’s not right that they’re taking away the brokerages ability to generate their own unique value proposition. Brokerages should be able to do that without NAR giving away tech,” said Baur.
Finally, there’s the upselling factor. This is a “freemium” play as everyone is saying. Freemium models are intended to get something in front of people for free in hopes of upselling them to paid products and services later.
Like all startups that raise incredible amounts of money (Placester is somewhere around $100 Million), there will be unbelievable pressure from their investors to get a return. That means they’ll be upselling agents like crazy, which only dilutes a brokerage’s value proposition that much more. “We’re in the business of helping brokerages, so this is unsettling,” said Baur. “The NAR might as well have knocked on the door of the brokerage and slapped them across the face.”