Zillow Partners Ready to Ride the Wave of the Future


Sometimes, Mercy Lugo-Struthers is surprised by the drive of her agents to succeed.  “They asked me if we can start working on all the things we learned at Unlock on the flight back to D.C.,” she said. Lugo-Struthers is principal broker for Casals, Realtor in Woodbridge Virginia. “I am surrounded by fantastic people and I’m looking forward to getting more who want to be held accountable, who care about their clients and who embrace change,” she said. 

That’s why Lugo-Struthers welcomed a new level of expectations Zillow Group outlined for its top-performing Zillow Premier Agents who gathered for the Zillow Unlock 2019 conference in Las Vegas October 27-29th.   

Zillow CEO and co-founder Rich Barton likened it to surging, describing partners at Unlock as “the agents, teams and brokers of the future, who understand there is a wave coming.” 

“They’re saying, ‘I’m going to turn my board towards the shore and ride this out,’ and it will be fun,” Barton said. 

Zillow recently implemented customer experience rankings to evaluate Zillow Premier Agents on the service they provide. At Unlock, the company also distributed a new “Conversion Playbook.”  Steve Capezza, Zillow’s vice president of Premier Agent Sales described the book as a collection of best practices intended to “put people into the homes they love, with joy along the way,” he said. 

For agents, experience scores and conversion rates help them gain “Best of Zillow” status, recognition that an agent has gone above and beyond client expectations through the buying and selling process.

The changes are motivation for Karen Pokorney, a Best of Zillow agent with Realty Executives in Scottsdale, Ariz. “The experience score is on my mind when I call new connections,” she says. “It gives me a little kick to work harder.” 

Zillow presenters at the conference emphasized that when customers have a bad experience with an agent they found through Zillow, it can hurt Zillow’s reputation. Zillow is currently doing a small test of a program called Flex that would take this focus on partnership and quality even further – giving leads to agents who have demonstrated an ability to convert them and provide excellent customer service. This evolution of the relationship between agents and Zillow into a profitable, mutually beneficial partnership–all to the end of delivering a great experience for customers–was the focus of much of the content at Unlock. 

Steve Capezza closed the Unlock 2019 conference with the same invitation he offered at the beginning. “We’re building a rocket ship to take us to the future of real estate, and we want you to come with us, but it’s your choice,” he explained, “and if you say yes, it’s a 100% all-in commitment.” 

Lugo-Struthers is eager for the journey. ”As agents, we need to be agents of change, change that’s not only driven by technology but driven by what customers say they want,” Lugo-Struthers said. “And I think that this applies to agents who are just starting to agents that have mega companies or mega teams.”  


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