Zillow: Two real estate career paths

As Zillow develops its influential real estate listings — and opens its class of third-party developers to become what it calls “agents” — it’s important to understand how the company was able to garner the trust of some of the most famous and influential real estate influencers in the US.

In this case, “Influencers” was defined as anyone writing about real estate.

Zillow says the term “agent” refers to a self-employed owner or manager who is essentially a company, and that the 4,000 percent markup that Zillow takes from these firms is minimal.

Oftentimes a real estate blogger will choose to be branded as a “real estate agent” and Zillow asks them to become partners. The company will seed posts with the promise of only linking to the third-party link Zillow sends the readers, so that the bloggers maintain control over who links to their posts.

But the peer pressure is apparently pretty strong: Zillow says 61 percent of the national real estate influencers use its platform.

The onus is on the journalists and bloggers to include a link back to the listed homes, but if that link is poor, readers can often ignore it. Zillow says that only 1 percent of the sponsored links given to bloggers back up by reviews. But that still leaves more than 31 million potential visitors missing out on the stars of their digital real estate pages.

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