When a beautiful home catches your eye on Zillow (or Trulia) you may want to find out more information and you see a box that states “CONTACT AGENT” with several pictures or perhaps just one picture. Who exactly are those people? Unfortunately, Zillow doesn’t give a great explanation as to who those people are or what they mean to you.
In short…Those agents pay to be there. Unless it says “Listing Agent” or they are the sole picture with “Premier Agent” by their name, these agents do not have inside information on your new home. In my opinion, this is actually a good thing for the homebuyer. Even if the listing agent has inside information they might not share with any buyers, because it is their job to look out for the best interest of their client, the seller. This means you are not the top priority for that agent.
The other agents pictured have paid for the chance to become your “buyer’s agent” and actually represent your best interest. While the buyer’s agent may not have all the answers immediately, a great agent will work to get you answers. The Zillow reviews are extremely telling. The buyer’s agent will be able to show you the home that caught your eye and other homes with your criteria. When you meet the agent for a buyer’s consultation, a good agent will explain the rules and laws of Agency/Representation in your state. Then you can decide if you feel like this agent will be a good match to you and your home search.
If you only see one agent pictured and they have “Premier Agent” by their name it means that agent has paid money to be put on that page. When an agent pays Zillow, they will allow you to be solely featured on your own listings. This way agents can capture all potential buyers looking at our listings. There is absolutely no additional criteria required to become a “Premier Agent.” However, it isn’t cheap to become a Premier Agent, and you could reason that poor performing agents don’t last long enough in this industry to make enough money to pay the fees associated.
In summary, don’t go looking for the listing agent, nor assume the agents on the web page are the listing agents. Additionally, do your research. Look for agents with solid, local reviews on multiple web pages. The home buying or selling process can be months long, you want to work with someone who knows what they are doing and someone who you’d like to talk to on a regular basis. Hope this clears up some the misconceptions of the “who’s who on zillow.” Happy house hunting!