Zillow Mortgage Leads are a highly used lead source in the industry. From local mortgage brokers to national lenders, Zillow leads are used on every mortgage front. However, has our industry considered how this is shaping the marketplace? In this comprehensive Zillow Mortgage Lead Review, we dive deep into costs, benefits, and alternatives to using this lead source as a vital part of business.
What are Zillow Mortgage Leads?
Zillow is the number one home search portal, not mortgage resources, for consumers. So how are they able to source so many high-intent mortgage leads? It is pretty simple. People come to Zillow to look at homes in their area and get connected with local real estate agents.
However, it is almost impossible to get an offer accepted without a certified pre-approval letter. To help make the process easier for the consumer, Zillow connects leads with both real estate and mortgage professionals. While Zillow began their lead sourcing on the real estate side, mortgage lenders are happy to pay for a qualified homebuyer as well.
There are a few ways to get leads from Zillow. You can sign up for their lead gen program or advertise as a local agent in the area. This gives homebuyers multiple options for loan officers, mortgage brokers, and local lenders.
However, LOs and brokers cannot just opt in to buy leads and get a flooded pipeline. You have to navigate to the Zillow mortgage advertising page and sign up. Upon signing up, you will fill out whether you are a loan officer, branch manager, marketing department, or ad agency.
For good or for bad, this gives you an idea of where Zillow mortgage leads are going to and the type of competition you will be facing.
How much does Zillow Mortgage Lead Cost?
Zillow mortgage leads are sold at a market rate. This means that price is dependent on supply and demand in each marketplace. Additionally, cost varies depending on whether you are sourcing mortgage leads or real estate leads.
With this said, Zillow leads, across the United States, cost between $75 and $120 per lead. However, I have seen exclusive real estate leads as high as $1,400 per lead. If you are planning on signing up for Zillow mortgage leads, do some research on your local market and understand what a good lead is worth to your bottom line.
Are They High-Quality?
This question depends solely on what you define as a quality lead. If we are measuring Zillow mortgage leads by other 3rd party lead sources, then yes – Zillow leads are high quality. However, if you are comparing Zillow leads to 1st party lead sources, then absolutely not – Zillow leads are average.
More specifically, a third-party lead source is any company that obtains leads and then sells them to a brand. This includes Lending Tree, Realtor.com, or any large consumer database. Often, 3rd party lead sources are low quality for a few reasons. One- you are not the primary brand the lead is expecting communication from. Two – these leads are often not exclusive, therefore, every loan officer is spamming the same leads over and over. Think about it, if you buy a list of leads from a company, nothing is stopping 3rd party lead sources from re-selling these leads to other lenders.
When comparing Zillow to other 3rd party lead aggregators, Zillow is top tier. The primary reason Zillow mortgage leads are the king of paid lead sources is that they address the primary issues in this marketing channel. First, Zillow communicates with every lead, stating that a realtor or loan officer will be contacting them shortly. This sets expectations and warms the prospect up for the hard sell. That is super important.
Put yourself in the shoes of a homebuyer on Zillow. You are looking for homes, not mortgages. Therefore, if you want to look at a home and get an unexpected call from a loan officer, it is going to voicemail. However, Zillow controls the communication, thus, controlling the sales narrative.
Take the below image for example:
When a consumer selects a home on Zillow, one of the primary calls to action is a pre-qualification button. This is the first step to getting the lead ready for a loan officer. At the core, most home buyers know they cannot buy a home without a mortgage. This little blue button allows Zillow to find serious buyers, warm them up, and then sell them to lenders.
At the end of the day, Zillow leads are one of the highest-quality 3rd party lead sources. However, they are by no means higher quality than leads that come in through your brand’s sales funnel. People that have a relationship with your brand convert at the highest numbers because they have trust. Leads that come from Zillow, Realtor.com, and Lending Tree are going to shop lenders until they find the lowest price. If that is the case, why do so many loan officers and mortgage brokers use Zillow Mortgage Leads? It is easy. Buying leads from Zillow is easy and can be profitable. Because of that, loan officers do not think twice about buying Zillow leads. With this said, are loan officers and brokers paying for their own demise?
Zillow Home Loans
Zillow has developed so much trust between consumers, they have created their own mortgage company. This has huge implications on the quality, quantity, and sustainability of Zillow Mortgage Leads. Why would Zillow sell a lead for $100 if it can make upwards of $50,000 on the transaction side?
Zillow Home Loans is a major risk to local mortgage brokers and loan officers. Not only has the industry become so reliant on Zillow as their primary marketing source, but Zillow is not even selling the higher quality leads. Instead, they are keeping them in-house while selling off the scraps at a premier price. Additionally, our industry has to look at the future of Zillow Home Loans. This goliath will transition from becoming a 3rd party lead source to one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, and a direct competitor to your business.
While buying leads from Zillow is the marketing equivalent of an easy button, loan officers and mortgage brokers need to consider developing their own brand and sales funnel.
Alternatives to Zillow Mortgage Leads
Easy alternatives to Zillow mortgage leads are other 3rd party lead sources like Lending Tree, Realtor.com, etc. However, these alternatives are just as expensive, lower quality, and are not sustainable. In my experience, the best alternative to Zillow leads comes from Pay-Per-Click marketing. This includes both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. The one similarity to Zillow Mortgage Leads is the pay-to-play structure of PPC. However, leads sources from Google Ads are much high quality, completely exclusive, and have referral capabilities. Specifically, PPC leads come into your funnel ready to act fast and many times do not have a real estate agent. This allows you to control the entire process and leverage that lead with your agents as well.
While the structure of running Google Ads and Microsoft Ads is more complex than just paying thousands every month for Zillow Mortgage Leads, the level of customization is unheard of in the industry. PPC campaigns can target specific zip codes, buyer habits, or even large email lists. This allows for coordinated marketing plans that can increase volume and decrease cost. More specifically, leads that come from mortgage PPC campaigns are often 15-25% cheaper than Zillow. This allows loan officers and mortgage brokers to get more bang for their buck.
With this said, I understand that most originators are not going to run their own Google Ads campaign. However, I highly recommend you find a PPC lead generation company that has experience with high-volume lead gen campaigns.
To find a good agency, scan a few pages of Google, look on Upwork, or ask for recommendations. It is vital that you vet each agency before you commit. When combing through PPC partners, consider the following items: price, timeline, visibility, and ownership. First, any good lead gen agency should not be charging more than 25-30% of your ad spend. Second, give your partner at least 2-3 months before you pull the plug. Often with new Google campaigns, it takes a few months of data before the campaign is firing on all cylinders. Third, if the company does not give you visibility on the data, move on. You should be receiving monthly reports with cost per lead, total cost, and conversion rates. If you are not receiving reports, this is a major red flag. Lastly, your Google Ad campaign should be owned by your Gmail. Often, agencies will want to build out the campaign under their name so it is more difficult for you to leave. This is another red flag. Ensure that campaign is in your name so you can own the data forever.
At the end of the day, Google Ads is the best alternative to Zillow Mortgage Leads on the market. PPC campaigns solve price, exclusivity, and sustainability issues that come from buying 3rd party sourced leads.
Where we stand on Zillow Mortgage Leads
At the end of the day, we understand that Zillow Mortgage Leads are a legitimate source of business for mortgage brokers and loan officers across the United States. And for most people, if it is not broken, don’t fix it. However, if you are using this as a lead source, do not put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your marketing investment across PPC, SEO, and 3rd party sources. This will give your brand a larger reach and protect your sales pipeline from ever running dry.
If you are interested in more marketing topics, dig into the following posts:
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- Zillow Mortgage Leads Review
- Digital Marketing Plan for Mortgage Companies
- Loan Officer Website Templates
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- Mortgage Automation: Zapier for Loan Officers
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Henry has spent the bulk of his career working for mortgage companies and marketing agencies. He uses his experience in the martech industry to guide his strategies and insights in the mortgage and real estate world. He firmly believes that marketing success in every industry boils down to a technology-centered strategy.