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.
By Tiana Baur
2017 has brought a lot of change and disruption to the real estate industry; some good, others upsetting at the very least. In the spring, Zillow announced Instant Offers, allowing homeowners to potentially cut out the agent. This is one of many efforts to remove real estate agents from the transaction, but client satisfaction may say otherwise.
What is Instant Offers?
Instant Offers 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. It’s that simple.
What this means for agents
For obvious reasons, Instant Offers can seem very attractive to homeowners. There is little to no work needed and they get to do it all on their own schedule. Plus, they don’t have to pay any fees to an agent.
What these homeowners don’t take into account, is having someone they can depend on, call when they need help or advice, and trust what’s going to happen with the transaction. Given that Instant Offers is new, many homeowners will shy away from it because of fear of the unknown. Because we’re humans, right? We want security. We want to know the largest transactions of our entire life are going to go smoothly.
How agents and brokerages can combat this
People don’t buy luxury cars just for the car. They buy them because they also get incredible service and are never left stranded on the road, waiting for a tow truck they had to call themselves. They buy them for the unreal customer service, knowing they are in good hands. Real estate agents are that person for homeowners and homebuyers everywhere. You provide comfort, and most importantly, are someone to depend on.
Stay true to your clients. Your clients will choose you over Zillow again and again if you’ve earned their trust and confidence as their advisor. They know you, they’ve transacted with you, they want you to handle the transaction for them. Earn your client’s trust to get and keep their repeat and referral business.
Although the real estate world is turning to tech for just about everything, there is something to be said about the human element, which Instant Offers doesn’t provide. Never doubt your importance when it comes to couples, families, and loved ones going through a major transition in their lives.
We firmly believe brokerages and agents play a vital in real estate. Moxi Works helps agents be more productive, while making brokerages more profitable. Find out more at moxiworks.com.
While the idea behind Zestimates® seemed awesome for homeowners, it’s entirely frustrating for agents and often ends up disappointing their clients with inaccurate pricing forecasts. Even though Zestimates know a home’s approximate size and location, there are many factors they don’t take into account. That is why homeowners need to hire a real estate agent that can be their trusted advisor through every step of the home selling process, because Zestimate accuracy doesn’t cut it.
Zestimate Accuracy Backlash
What happens when Zestimates are seen without proper context or guidance? A lawsuit. While this is the first lawsuit of this kind, we are not surprised to see it come to light. It states that, “Homeowners, realty agents and appraisers have been critical for years about the valuation tool, citing estimates that too often are far off the mark — sometimes 20 percent or 30 percent too low or too high — and misleading to consumers. Zillow itself acknowledges errors.” That’s why we empower agents on our platform to be true consultants.
“The idea of an AVM (automated valuation model), an algorithm, that determines the price of a house is flawed from the very beginning,” said York Baur, CEO of Moxi Works. “There’s no such thing as standard housing product. If I buy a car, it comes off an assembly line, and they’re all the same. But every piece of property is different.”
Baur went on to say that, “Zillow has been very clever to give consumers a ballpark idea of what their house is worth, but it’s just that: A teaser to get them onto the website. So, why would anyone leave the most financially and emotionally charged transaction in someone’s life to a computer? You wouldn’t. Like with any large investment decision, you would seek professional advice, and that’s what realtors give you.”
Our CMA presentation tool, Moxi Present, encapsulates the relevant information about a house and enables a professional agent to consult and advise their client with accurate information, and information that can give true context to a Zestimate. “A realtor using modern tools like Moxi Present, has access to a wealth of data beyond what some computer algorithm is using and in particular can access things that no algorithm can,” said Baur. He means things like the details of a home’s interior or the exact character of a given neighborhood, which only an agent, a human, can speak to.
The importance of using a trusted advisor cannot be overlooked. As we all well know, this is one of the most important and personal transactions in someone’s life, and it needs to be treated accordingly. If you were to get a surgery, would you consult a professional first?
Moxi Works is honored to have York Baur, our CEO, be recognized as an industry leader in the 2017 Swanepoel POWER 200. This is a big milestone for us as a company and we are thrilled for our fearless leader and Moxi Works team – a lot of hard work went into 2016 and we are thrilled to see it pay off!
Along with Moxi Works, many of our brilliant clients were featured on the list as well. We want to give them all a shout out – it is a privilege to work with all of these amazing people!
- Windermere Real Estate: OB Jacobi, Jill Jacobi Wood, Geoff Wood – Managing Principals
- Long & Foster Real Estate: Wesley “Wes” Foster – Chairman & CEO, and Jeff Detwiler – President & CEO, and Cindy Ariosa – SVP
- Howard Hanna: Howard “Hoddy” Hannah and Helen Hanna Casey – Chairman & CEO, and Howard “Hoby” Hanna, IV – President
- RE/MAX: David Liniger – Co-Founder, Chairman, and CEO, and Geoff Lewis – President
- Century 21 Real Estate: Rick Davidson – President & CEO
- Coldwell Banker Real Estate: Charlie Young – President & CEO
- Sotheby’s International Realty: Philip A. White, Jr. – President and CEO
- William Raveis Real Estate: Christopher “Chris” Raveis – President
- Lyon Real Estate: Pat Shea – President
Along with our wonderful clients, we also have some truly amazing partners. In fact, Moxi Works has over 30 integrated partnerships and is growing rapidly. These tools and services are leading industry players that are now being made available to Moxi Works brokerages. They use the Moxi Works platform API to exchange data and synchronize everything from roster and property data to personal records data. Not surprisingly, many of our world-class partners made the Swanepoel list with us:
- Dotloop: Austin Allison – Founder and General Manager
- Skyslope: Tyler Smith – Founder & CEO
- Imprev- Renwick Congdon – Founder & CEO
- DocuSign: Georg Gerstenfeld – General Manager of Global Real Estate Solutions
- Zillow: Spender Rascoff, CEO
- The Zillow Group: Amy Bohuntinsky – COO, and Greg Schwartz – Chief Business Offer, and Errol Samuelson – Chief Industry Development Officer, and Jeremy Wacksman – COO
- Trulia: Paul Levine – President
- LeadingRE: Pam O’Connor – President and CEO, and Paul Boomsma – President Luxury Portfolio International
Watch Cindy Ariosa, SVP from Long & Foster talk about why Moxi Works is the backbone of their brokerage.
*Photo courtesy Real Estate Trends