Most buyers and sellers do not realize that Zillow busts agent marketing budgets. Let’s explain what Zillow is and what they do.

Zillow Busts Agent Marketing Budgets

What is Zillow?

Zillow is an online portal that collects leads from buyers and sellers by displaying property information from the MLS. They made their mark by offering the Zestimate which was an online value generator for homes across America. Homeowners were intrigued by the Zestimate because it was a way for them to track their home value over time. It wasn’t always accurate, but that didn’t matter. It was exciting.

Later on Zillow got into the homebuying business and bought homes to flip. They later discarded this business because they admitted they were unable to accurately predict a home’s value, nor the future direction of a home’s value. So now they pretty much stick to selling leads to agents.

How Zillow Busts Agent Marketing Budgets

Zillow collects a fee on every transaction for agents in their Flex program. The fee in the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area is 40% on homes over $300,000. It is 35% between $225,000-$299,000. Most home sales in Lee County are above $300k. What this means is the agent or team pays 40% of the listing side commission to Zillow first. Then, they must split with their broker. If there is money left over, they may have money to pay employees, rent, signs, phone, internet, gas, car, etc. Then there is advertising. If an agent is paying 40% off the top to Zillow, and another 10-50% to their broker, this isn’t much money left for advertising a home, or for buyers.


 Agents become dependent on Zillow for everything. They receive buyer and seller leads, and they have little to no money left over to acquire leads or advertise in other places. Zillow has another program called Zillow Premier which allows agents to pay a monthly fee. I know some agents paying $20,000/Mo for this program. They avoid the high referral fee on each transaction, but again the money is sucked up by the monthly spend. The agents become dependent on Zillow for leads because so much of their budget is tied to one source. To be fair, there are other agents paying $5,000/Mo or less, but they get even fewer leads that way.

In the Way

All Zillow does is get between the agent and the transaction. Zillow is not alone, there are other online portals like, etc. Each of these charges leads back to agents in some form or fashion.  What if that money went to advertising a home instead of online portals like Zillow?

Who is to Blame?

Zillow is in business to make a profit. Some agents like the easy button where they acquire leads to work on for a price. Some agents don’t have or maintain a client database. They are transactional agents. They love working the deal, but then that’s it. Relational agents like to keep in touch or hold client events. It’s more of an ongoing relationship versus a one and done transaction. Consumers do not know the business and they like some of the features of Zillow. They don’t realize many of those features are available in other places. Other sites may have even better features, but Zillow spends so much advertising themselves that consumers find their way there. Zillow bids up the keywords and consumers click on the first link they see in some cases. So, nobody is to blame, and yet look at who benefits.

We Do Not Advertise on Zillow

The Ellis Team quit advertising on Zillow years ago. Our website has some better features and and we prefer to spend our advertising dollars on our clients and our clients homes. I am sure there are some very successful agents who still advertise on Zillow. We choose not to. Zillow’s success makes no difference to us as we do not use them. We do not blame other agents who do. We just want consumers to realize where their commission dollars are going and decide for themselves whish way is best for them to buy or sell.

Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty 239-489-4042 We’d love to talk to you about how we advertise your home and get Top Dollar. We’ve been voted the Best in Real Estate for 11 straight years by News Press readers.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Open House Saturday 12-3 PM

8515 Oakshade Cir #101 Fort Myers, FL $330,000

2 Bedroom 2 Bath in South Fort Myers
Open House Saturday 12-3 PM

Open House Sunday 12-3 PM

1417 NE 34th St Cape Coral, FL $330,000

3 Bedroom 2 Bath cape Coral Home
Open House Sunday 12-3 PM


I want to talk about the difference between salespeople versus order takers. Most are surprised to know that 87% of Realtors fail and leave the business within 5 years. This means that only 13% have been around since 2018.

We often see real estate agents leave the business when the market shifts. 2023 is no exception, and with real estate closings down significantly year to date, we expect more to leave the business when board fees become due at the end of year.

Skills Based Market

The 2023 Southwest Florida real estate market is a skills-based market. Only the best salespeople will survive because there are less transactions to go around. A few years ago, anyone could sell a home because the market drove sales. In many cases, you just had to show up with a blank contract in hand and write it. Buyers and sellers didn’t seek out the best agents because in their mind it didn’t make a difference. They just wanted someone there now! I would argue that did cost some of them, but that’s another story.

Sellers Need Salespeople Versus Order Takers Now

Today, things are different. Homes do not sell in a day, and certainly not with 50 offers each. It takes marketing and salesmanship to get the job done. Agents need to learn to probe deeper and find out what’s going on. When a buyer says no, there might be more to the story. Overcoming an underlying issue that has nothing to do with what the buyer said may make the difference.

salespeople versus order takers

Often the buyer’s first objection is not the real objection. Too many times we see agents solving for the objection they heard versus probing for the true objection. When agents spend time and energy solving an objection that isn’t even real, they’ve wasted an opportunity.

Imagine you were playing a game of Find and Seek. If you took the clues down the road on the right and spent all your time there, you’d be disappointed to find out the object was on the road to the left. You would have wasted all your time looking for something that was never there.

Isolate Objections

Buyers don’t intentionally lie. They throw out objections to slow the process down, because they are afraid, or they have not thought enough about what they truly want. A skilled agent learns to isolate the objection. By isolating the objection, you can determine if you chose the right road, or if you need to ask more questions. No sense spending time on the wrong road. It’s hard enough to find solutions on the right road, let alone choosing the wrong road.

This is why sellers today need salespeople versus order takers more than ever. When the going gets tough, 87% get out of the business. When you hire an agent, you want to know three things.

  1. Your agent will be there until your house sells, not quit the business.
  2. The agent you choose has been through a shifting market like this before and survived.
  3. Your agent has a plan to sell your home and overcome objections.

Experienced agents who thrived in up, down, and sideways markets give you your best chance because they have a track record. You have something to grade them by. When you hire a less experienced agent, you hire them because you like them. Liking an agent is very different than hiring the best agent. This is your home, your money, your life, and your success.

Always Call the Ellis Team

Sande and Brett Ellis have worked in the greatest Boom SW Florida may ever see, and the greatest Bust we may ever see, along with every shift in between. Today’s shift is easy peasy for us, because we’ve been here before and we thrive in a shift. We have the skills you need to sell! People skills never go out of style, and they are needed today. Call us at 239-310-6500.

If you’re an agent who is struggling, give us a call. We have sales positions available and leads. Our coaching and leads might just help you stay in this business and save your career.

Good luck, and Happy Selling!

Ellis Team Weekend Open House

8515 Oakshade Cir Unit 101 Fort Myers, Fl 33919

Open House Sunday 12-3 PM $330,000

Open House Sunday 12-3 PM
Super South Fort Myers Location

The Ellis Team at Keller Williams is introducing an online real estate auction bidding system on select listings. We are using technology to speed up the process of selling homes. This system is different than our 8-day sales program which we also offer. Both programs are designed to attract top dollar while creating buyer urgency. Most sellers do not want to show their home for months on end, so we have solutions to solve that.

Online Real Estate Auction With Online Bidding

We place the home, condo, lot, or whatever real property we are selling in both the MLS and the online bidding site. Buyers are advised that this is an online bidding system. The seller is not obligated to take an offer, although most do. The online bidding might start at a lower price than the actual price in MLS. We typically like to have appointment windows where buyers can view the property before making bids.

The seller can decide if they will accept financing or cash only bids.  Buyers can enter their bid and can even enter an amount they would go up to with an auto-bid. Other buyers do not see what your auto bid number is.  If the other bids exceed your up to auto bid number, you will receive an email that you are no longer the top bidder. A buyer can then decide if they wish to change their bid to get back in the game.


Buyers love the online system because they can see the number they have to beat if they want the property. In the multiple offer days buyers were most frustrated by wondering how much over asking price they must go to get the property. Nobody wants to overpay, and some buyers wondered if they actually did, and by how much. With this system, the buyer is in control. The buyer is not competing against the seller. The buyer is competing against other buyers, and there is transparency. Each buyer can see what it will take to score the property.

Sample Bidding History

Online Real Estate Auction Bidding System

We’ve included a screenshot of a recent auction by another agent held up North in another state. Each buyer can clearly see the auction history. This was page 3 of the auction history. This particular auction had 53 offers or amended offers.

This Weekend’s Online Auction

 This weekend the Ellis Team is hosting an online auction on 8268 Firwood Dr in Estero. The online starting bid will be $80,000.  The Ellis Team online real estate auction can be found at More info on the property can be found at in the Featured Listings tab. We will be hosting an open house preview on Saturday and Sunday from 12-2 PM for interested bidders. Bidding ends Sunday at 6 PM


Each property can have its own terms. For instance, one seller might include a home inspection upfront and offer no inspection period while another may provide an inspection period. Other terms might include how soon a buyer must close, what the escrow deposit needs to be, etc. The winning bidder earns the right to go to contract with the seller if the seller accepts the bid.

Written Offers During Auction

Sometimes buyers decide to submit written offers directly to us as listing agents during the auction period. We redirect them to the online bidding site so that all buyers are playing fairly.

Interested in Selling?

This has been a brief overview of the program. If you are interested in selling your property, we have several programs that you may love. You can speak with Sande Ellis or Brett Ellis at 239-310-6500 and we’ll be happy to help you sell your home for Top Dollar and quickly. The Ellis Team has more tools to put more money in your pocket. Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty.

Ellis Team Weekend Open House With Online Auction

8628 Firwood Dr, Estero FL

Bidding Starts at $80,000 Bid Online

Online Bidding Ends Sunday 6 PM ET

Online Real Estate Auction
Online Real Estate Auction

We’d like to introduce you to the neighborhood market report update, and it’s a good one. It’s a popular feature for those that know about it, and one we haven’t found on any other website. It’s just one of the features at that makes it the Go-To real estate website in Southwest Florida.

Neighborhood Market Report Update

Neighborhood Market Report Update

 What is the neighborhood market report update and why is it important to me you might ask? This report shows all the active listings, pending listings, and sold listings in one easy report.  However, it also allows you access to all the photos of each listing, even the pending and sold listings.

In a nice and easy to read format, you’ll also be able to see the price per square foot and the days on the market. It will also show you the sold date on each sold listing, so you can decide which listings you want to click on and check out.

We find this particularly useful for those who have a home on the market or are considering putting their home on the market. You can quickly look at your neighbor’s kitchen, bathrooms, and flooring when determining where to price your home. Many times, those considering selling see what their neighbors home sold for if they are lucky. They really don’t get to see the upgrades and renovations unless they personally go inside.

We’ve included a sample report. We randomly picked a neighborhood that only had a few listings so you could get an idea of how the report shows the actives, pending, and sold properties. This neighborhood doesn’t have any pending sales currently.

Upcoming Changes

 We believe there may be a change coming soon to the way listings are displayed in MLS and on the portals. If these changes occur, it could drive more traffic to the bigger players who hold more of the listings, and the data. Currently holds more of the data, and the Ellis Team combined with Keller Williams controls a large share of the market. By control I simply mean we work with a larger number of listings than a lot of brokers.

Find Out What Your Home is Worth

One of the other things people love on this site is the Free home valuation report. The quickest way to get there is but it is hosted on the site. The home valuation tool not only gives a fast value for your home, but it also automatically updates the value each month. This is especially helpful when the market is changing.

Advanced Searching Capabilities

Customers love the advanced search, which gives you control over 20 additional MLS features you can search on. And if that’s not enough, our agents can log in and help you create a search on every single MLS feature, even the ones you don’t know about.

In Person

Of course, Sande and Brett Ellis love talking with people about their real estate needs. We don’t hide behind a website to serve you. Our website is there to provide additional tools nobody else offers. Brett and Sande are here to provide insight and experience few in this market possess. Simply call us at 239-310-6500. We can’t help you if we don’t talk to you. Even if you’re not ready yet, no question is a dumb question.

Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty and let’s see what’s in your future.

SW Florida Real Estate Market Update


See last week’s article “Local Home Prices Down 3.6% Officially From Last Year