I attended and really enjoyed the Zillow Summit in Seattle yesterday. Here are my notes from that event:
Spencer Rascoff, CEO:
Zillow has two key focus areas: to improve software tools for real estate agents; and to grow consumer audience via advertising and partnerships
Mobile audience has grown 6X in the last two years. Largest mobile audience for homes. Largest real estate website in Seattle and virtually all 100 top cities in US.
Street Easy in NY was acquired for $50M, and is now #1 website in NY.
Partnership with Google and Apple launched recently. Many partnerships and acquisitions to grow Zillow as the #1 real estate website.
Zillow does not have an international presence, just in the US for now.
Second largest competitor is Trulia, but what distinguishes Zillow is that there is information on EVERY home, whether listed or not.
Listing leads are generated through Zillow for premier agents when homeowners are looking up the value of their homes.
Market Leader and Top Producer are the products sold by Zillow's key competitors.
Zillow acquired Hot Pads for $20M about a year ago; has significant rental leads. This makes Zillow more relevant to property managers.
Zillow also owns Postlets, but still has some challenges in dealing with Craigslist (which has recently disallowed html links).
Clear trend: ascension of the agent team. Internet has changed expectations of customer service.
Another major trend is the use of mobile device.
More aspects of the transaction will be automated. Yet there will also be human interaction in the real estate transaction.
As a professional, you are there to interpret what people see on the internet (such as Zestimates).
"Zillow special offers" includes special offers to buyer that gets many more views. Not as relevant in current market.
Agent panel: Kevin from Seattle since 2005; Matt - Remax on the Lake 5years; Gordon, 24 years; Geordy Roemer broker for 10 years.
Much discussion on how Zestimates are derived, and how to talk with clients about this.
Claim your own home on Zillow to make the Zestimate even more accurate.
How fast to respond? Get back to the contact ASAP is best practice; but also need to train clients that you are not available all the time.
Set up phones to send quick text back, auto-respond. Also auto-responder email when contacts come in.
Agents can respond to reviews, and use the response as a way to brand your self.
Get consumer information quickly on your own leads; come prepared with other listings to show a buyer; many agents just go out to show houses without requiring pre-approval-don't want to be pushed, don't want to be sold, just go ahead and show
Best practices for conversion rates - three emails that go out within the first week, pointing out resources, reviews about agents, send other listings. Response time and trying to speak to a live person on the phone.
Svenja Gudjel, economist with Zillow. Zillow home value index shows that national home values are back to the Oct 2004 levels. Home value appreciation rates are up 15.2% over the previous year in Seattle.
Month over month appreciation is slowing down a bit now, most everywhere around the country after a year of rapid appreciation.
Rates may creep up to 5% by the end of 2014. Seattle metro is up 15.2%, blessed with good job growth and lower unemployment rates, doing much better than the nation as a whole.
Median home price of Seattle homes $429300 in September 2013. Very close to peak value, within 7-8% of peak value.
% of homes in negative equity: Seattle 17.4%, Everett 36%, Tacoma 39.6%, Bellevue 10.1%, Renton 28.3%. Steadily working the percentage of negative equity down.
First time homebuyers had the toughest time competing with investors for tight inventory in areas with the greatest negative equity.
18% of monthly income on home mortgages. Historically, homeowners in Seattle used to spend 25% of monthly income on mortgage. But if rate goes up to 6%, that percentage goes up that high - bubble territory.
Home values are beginning to level out, expect returns in Seattle of 6.7% for 2014.
Greatest appreciation forecast for Everett, Bellevue and Renton (areas still w negative equity).
Basics of valuing homes: physical attributes, tax assessments and prior home sales.
agentfolio allows folks to share listings with clients, and collects information all in one place. Helps with the communication, and can add agent team members. agentfolio.com to sign up free, live with NWMLS. Sign in with your Zillow account.
Use free software and tools provided by Zillow. Full mobile apps, ipad, etc.
Vision for pro tools going forward. Helping to get and convert contacts and get repeat business.
For help deciphering my notes, or for more detail, please leave a comment or message me at HomeLandInvestment@gmail.com