The days of buying leads from Zillow and Realtor are come to an end. When you really think about it, it makes sense. They can make a lot more money from getting a referral fee on a successful transaction then they can from selling a single lead.
So what does that mean to the agents that are currently buying leads? Well the downside is that (at least for now) they aren't being given an opportunity to even participate in the referral program. Having a chance to interact with about 50 top producers during a recent conference (FUBCON 2022), I had the opportunity to chat with a few of those who this has already happened to.
One of them was from Fort Worth TX, they got an email from Realtor.com stating their lead program is coming to an end in 30 days. That was it, no explanation other than we are pulling these zip codes. After further inquiry by the broker he was told that they partnered up with Ops City & are now working on a referral basis only. They are given the opportunity to go on the list to be one of those agents who would be considered as a referral partner, however, unfortunately a brokerage was already selected in their area who they are working with.
Alright, so let's unpack this a bit more. They won't be charging a fee for the lead which is amazing, what they want is a % of the actual transaction. They are doing a bit more work here which is qualifying the lead further and then passing a better more qualified lead to the agent.
We've seen this before with a few companies. What you can expect is that they are going to have a baseline that they consider a make or break deal. If you aren't able to close leads within that baseline % you are going to be kicked out of the program even if you do get a chance to be in it in the first place.
If Zillow or Realtor programs are your primary or only source of business, you really need to come to reality that will come to and end eventually. No one knows 100% how long it will take them to pull every zip code across the country but the fact that they are able to make more money from referrals will always stand and they will eventually completely pivot to that model no matter what.
The contract you have with Zillow & Realtor does not guarantee that they won't change their business model. Call your rep and confirm.
We all know that portal leads are much better than any other lead source, however, knowing that it's going to come to and end, you need to look for the alternative. The #1 alternative by far is Google PPC through Google Ads.
I got into detail breaking down why Google PPC is the way to go and how you can get started if you haven't already.