Momentum of Zillow Offers home-buying program signals shift in customer expectations

Zillow Group President Jeremy Wacksman painted a picture of the future of home selling and buying for an audience of real estate agents in Las Vegas this week: an always-available trade-in offer for your home, certainty on a closing date, and the ability to self-tour homes and preconfigure renovations with an app, among other consumer-friendly shifts. “It sounds so delightful and crazy,” Wacksman said. But that’s the promise of Zillow Offers, he said, and “represents the march forward of customer expectations.”

A year ago, Zillow Offers was in seven markets. Now home buyers in 21 metro areas can use the service, which takes the hassle and uncertainty out of selling a house. Zillow directly buys a seller’s house, prepares it for showings, and quickly lists it for sale. Agents from local brokerages represent Zillow in the transaction. The Zillow 2019 Unlock conference held Oct. 27-29 in Las Vegas was the largest company-sponsored industry event since Zillow Offers began to expand.  Much of the Unlock conference centered on how agents can work with Zillow to transform and streamline the home-buyer experience, and part of that includes Zillow Offers. 

Wacksman reminisced with agents about the days of corded phones and printed MLS books that were quickly outdated. “Would you go back?” he asked. “Once we see convenience and control, we don’t want to go back,” referring to the thousands of daily requests homeowners make for free, no-obligation Zillow Offers on their homes. 

Deena Carvajal, owner and broker with The Carvajal Group in Orlando, Fla., says she’s integrating Zillow Offers into her team’s services and listing presentations, and she has a property under contract with the program. “Not having to guess, ‘is this going to close?’ is what cinched it for the owner,” Carvajal said. “The stress of carrying two mortgages has lifted off him,” she said. And surprisingly, Carvajal said, the net proceeds weren’t much lower than what a traditional sale would have brought.

Zillow research shows that 60 million people today want to move, but only a fraction do, because of the stress of selling a home. “If we can remove that friction and provide more certainty, more people will move,” Wacksman said, pointing out Amazon solved a similar problem with Prime, a service that 62% of American households subscribe to. He asked agents to work with Zillow “to elevate all types of moves in the home journey” to deliver the seamless experience customers will soon demand.

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