The U.S. real estate operator Zillow has announced that it is expanding its network of so-called 'Enhanced Markets' across the country.
Los Angeles, Portland, Sacramento and San Diego will join nine other local markets where the portal giant only operates its Flex program in which agents only pay the portal after a lead transacts on a house rather than paying upfront for the lead.
Throughout most of the country, Zillow's flagship standard Premier Agent product charges agents upfront for leads and is available to any agent on a zipcode area basis.
In the enhanced markets, Zillow does not run its Premier Agent product and instead exclusively uses its Flex program where selected agents don't pay the portal upfront but do pay the company a success fee (typically 35% of commission) if and when a lead transacts.
It's not just Zillow's agent customers that have a different experience in the enhanced markets. End users in the six markets get what the company calls "real-time touring" and can book a tour of a home through the portal in less than an hour as well as greater integration of Zillow's Home Loans solutions.
The move comes as the U.S. real estate industry begins to question the way it has traditionally done business with portals.
This week Robert Reffkin, the founder and CEO of the Compass brokerage company, came in out in favour of Zillow's new rival, Homes.com. The CoStar-owned upstart portal has vowed to do things differently using a 'your listing, your lead' philosophy which Reffkin said he supported.
"I’m very supportive of Andy [Florance] and Homes.com and I want to support his success", Robert Reffkin at Inman's Connect conference in New York.
The biannual Connect conference generated other noteworthy quotes including one from Realtor.com's new boss Damian Eales. The recently appointed boss of the News Corp-owned portal questioned CoStar's traffic claims and, referring the classic 80s film Crocodile Dundee, said that he welcomed the increased competition in the market.
“When somebody brings a knife to the fight, I say that’s not a knife — this is the knife... I love it. I wake up excited and our team is energized by competition and I think that’s great for everybody in this room.”
As for incumbent market leader Zillow, its President Susan Daimler gave an underwhelming update on the state of the company's much-touted 'super app' when asked by host Brad Inman if it was "bullshit".
"It's out there now... We’re assembling all of these pieces to come together into the super app. It’s not going to be all of a sudden you see on Inman that the super app is available. We are building towards it literally every single day.”