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Today’s real estate market is competitive, to say the least. There are more companies to contend with, more regulations to understand and translate, and there are more educated, hungry consumers on the prowl for the perfect home. As a result of ever-changing norms in the industry, new tools must be employed in order to continue empowering consumers with accurate information so they can make the best decisions possible about their future homes and mortgages. With so much information at their fingertips, consumers need an agent they can trust to help them sift through the vast sea of news, rates and statistics. Thanks to Zillow, a marketplace dedicated to helping consumers find and share vital information about homes, real estate, mortgages and home improvement, connecting the dots between consumers and valued, trustworthy real estate professionals has never been easier.

According to Denver, Colorado-based Innovative Real Estate Group President Scott Nordby and Managing Broker Michael Welk, affiliating with Zillow has helped them stay competitive and connect with leads that are serious about taking the next step. Not only has this led to immense company growth, but using Zillow as a lead capturing tool has also helped with brand awareness.

“The biggest impact Zillow has had on our business is that anywhere people search online, they find us. As a small firm, Zillow has helped us create brand awareness,” says Nordby. “It gives us the ability to be where the consumer is looking for homes.”

Allowing agents to be where the consumer is on a daily basis is something that Innovative Real Estate does not take lightly. Zillow has also worked as a reliable attraction tool for agents who might be looking for a company that provides leads.

“It’s a good retention tool that keeps agents busy, whether they are experienced or a brand new agent,” says Nordby. “They get handed a warm prospect who has requested info or would like to see a home. It’s a nice thing to have.”

To Welk, Zillow’s rating system and testimonials are some of the most beneficial features.

“Testimonials and ratings from clients give the consumer the ability to look at an agent and say ‘Wow, other people have ranked this agent a 4 or 5 consistently.’ It also gives agents the confidence that they provide good service,” says Welk.

The reviews system is so powerful that Innovative Real Estate gets about four calls a month from prospective clients who want to work with them based on Zillow reviews alone, says Nordby.

Using Zillow’s contact-forwarding feature, the company sends its Zillow leads to its own in-house system to be dispersed among agents based on the zip codes they work in. The company then uses a drip campaign to try to convert leads into sales. During this incubation period, the company reaches out periodically, but never with a hard sale at the gate.

“Once you get that lead, it takes some time to incubate those leads and build relationships and be in flow with them. It takes knowledge and time, because buyers want to build up a relationship to make sure you’re the person,” says Welk.

Building this relationship before stepping foot inside the first house is key, says Nordby, otherwise, that lead may just find the next real estate agent and the next home. But in the right hands, these leads could very well become motivated buyers who won’t be afraid to communicate exactly what they’re looking for with the agent.