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Zillow’s Flex model play with next-generation lead gen

Zillow recently announced that it was moving exclusively to its success fee Flex model in two major markets, Denver and Raleigh.

Why It Matters: Zillow Flex is “Next Gen Lead Gen,” featuring a 35% commission share and lead qualification by Zillow employees. It’s the future of real estate portal lead gen — and gets Zillow much closer to the transaction. 

  • In the past, Zillow has operated Flex alongside its traditional pay per lead model; this changes that.
  • By going all in in two major markets, Zillow is signaling its intent to control more of the transaction in order to satisfy its goals of doubling its Premier Agent business by 2025.

Zillow’s new strategy (Zillow 3.0: Back to Basics) has the company going back to its roots, doubling down on agent lead gen, and extracting more revenue from real estate commissions. 


Winners and losers: Next gen lead gen works for the agent partners that decide to participate in the program; those agents and brokers receive millions of leads. 

  • But those agents may become even more reliant on the portal as a critical business partner, giving the portal more market power.
  • Over the long term, agents not participating in these invite-only programs will receive fewer online leads, and may be at a significant competitive disadvantage in the race to acquire customers.

What to watch: How Zillow integrates mortgage (Zillow Home Loans) and ShowingTime into its renewed Flex program.

Mike DelPrete is a real estate technology strategist.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of RealTrends’ editorial department and its owners.

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Mike DelPrete at

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