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Zenlist vs Zillow: The Best Technology in 2023 for Buyers Agents



Zenlist and Zillow are two home search platforms modernizing the real estate industry but the two differ quite significantly.

What is the difference between Zenlist and Zillow?

When it comes to browsing for homes, clients often turn to Zillow for its user-friendly interface and wide range of listings. Zillow is a free, public portal that allows consumers to browse for homes across different geographies. Its sleek user experience and mobile application make it a popular choice among home buyers. However, Zillow's business model relies on selling leads to real estate agents, which means its primary focus is on collecting users' data. As a result, the platform is optimized for generating leads, rather than providing a comprehensive search experience for clients. Although Zillow was one of the first platforms to really modernize the home search experience, it also comes with a price. Zillow’s open platform poses a threat to real estate agents by putting more power into clients' hands. 

Zenlist is one of the newer proptech tools to have entered the market and offers a different experience for agents and their clients. Similar to Zillow, Zenlist focuses on creating a modern home search platform with intuitive UI and mobile application but unlike Zillow, Zenlist is a paid platform for agents and is free to clients once an agent invites them to the platform. Zenlist is not reliant on collecting and selling users' data in order to sustain its business. This means that users' data is private and agents can be confident that their clients' information will not be shared or sold. Zenlist strives to streamline the home-buying process by providing a more efficient and comprehensive search experience without compromising the key role real estate agents play in the process. 

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Let’s dive into how the platforms compare in overall search experience, communication, & tour functionalities:

  Zillow Zenlist


  • search homes across the entire US
  • limited search filters
  • delayed market updates
  • mobile application
  • intuitive UI
  • tailored search to specific market that the agent is connected to
  • extensive MLS level search filters
  • real time market updates
  • mobile application
  • intuitive UI
  • limited exclusive client communication only available to Premier Agent Account holders through "My Agent"  
  • unlimited direct communication between agent & client via in-app chat & notes
  • clients can request tours but do not have control which agent they are connected to
  • agents cannot easily modify tours once they are scheduled with a client through the platform
  • clients can request tours sent directly to their agent
  • tour folders allow agents to update tour dates, times & listings and share with their clients within the platform
Zenlist vs. Zillow platform feature comparison table

How is search different between Zenlist and Zillow?

Zillow is a useful tool for getting an overview of a market, while Zenlist offers a more comprehensive and reliable search experience for serious home buyers. Both platforms allow users to easily search for homes featuring intuitive UI and mobile applications. Users can also create and save custom searches, but when you take a closer look there are some major differences.

Zillow allows users to search for homes across the entire United States, making it easy for consumers to browse listings and see what's available in different regions. However, in an effort to build a user-friendly search platform, Zillow compromised on its search filters and property types. Although their simplified approach optimizes for a clean UI, it also makes it difficult for serious home buyers to create detailed searches for specific regions they're interested in. Zillow also does not have real time market updates so properties don’t always reflect their availability status which can be frustrating for clients. 

Zenlist is tailored to the specific market in which an agent operates so users can only see homes within their belonging MLS. While this may be a limitation for some, it offers several advantages for both agents and their clients. Zenlist provides the fastest listing updates thanks to its tight integration with the local MLS, as well as hyper-accurate filters that match the MLS and its nuances. Additionally, the platform offers extra listings in markets where "Coming Soon" listings are available to agents, and includes all market-specific private information and documents giving agents and their clients a unique advantage in busy markets. But the biggest difference is that since clients are connected to an agent on Zenlist, agents can create custom searches for their clients and track their activity.

While Zillow is a useful tool for getting an overview of a new market, Zenlist offers a more comprehensive and reliable search experience for serious home buyers. Its focus on local markets and advanced search capabilities makes it a valuable tool for agents and their clients.

Access Public + Private Listings

How is chat different between Zenlist and Zillow?

Zillow only offers exclusive agent-client communication for a limited amount of time through "My Agent". Zenlist provides unlimited dedicated communication between agent and client via its in-app chat & notes throughout the home search process.

Having an effective communication strategy is imperative to building strong agent-client relationships. When it comes to Zenlist and Zillow communication features, there’s really no comparison. Since Zenlist is only available to clients through an invite by their agent, once a client signs up they are 100% locked into just the one agent. All listing notes and chats will be directed to the agent they signed up with and will never be poached by another agent on Zenlist. Agents can also add co-buyers to one account so everyone can stay connected in one place. In addition to the in-app chat functionality, Zenlist also allows agents and clients to leave notes directly on a listing which is helpful when touring multiple open houses.

On the other hand, clients searching on Zillow are not tied down to a specific agent so they do not have a dedicated way of communicating with their agent directly through the platform and vice versa. Zillow’s Premier Agent Account “My Agent” feature gives agents an exclusive relationship with clients for a limited amount of time and will only display contact information for the Premier Agent on listings however, since this is only available for a limited time agents often have to take communication with clients off of Zillow. 

When it comes to communication between agents and their clients, Zenlist offers a more comprehensive and user-friendly experience than Zillow. Zillow's communication capabilities are limited resulting in unorganized communication through multiple channels such as email & text. For agents, Zenlist's communication tools are designed to allow them to communicate with multiple clients and keep track of shared listings and conversations. This eliminates the need for agents to rely on email or SMS to connect with their clients, streamlining the communication process and allowing for faster and more efficient collaboration.

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How are tours different between Zenlist and Zillow?

Clients can request tours for specific listings on both Zillow and Zenlist but besides that the tour functions differ quite a bit between the two platforms. Clients who request tours on Zillow cannot control which agent they're connected with which often results in lead poaching. Clients using Zenlist are connected to one agent so all tour requests are directed to the agent they already chose to work with. 

Once a client requests a tour on Zillow they fill out their contact information and desired date and time for a home tour. Zillow then reaches out to Zillow Premier Agents based on share of voice to find an available agent. Clients cannot request a tour with a specific agent from the platform. While this can be a helpful form of lead generation for some, it limits the ability of agents to control and customize their tours. It also increases the likelihood of a client being poached by another agent when they request additional tours on Zillow.

In contrast, clients on Zenlist are only connected to one agent at a time so all client tour requests will be sent to the agent they are currently working with. Zenlist allows agents to create and share digital showing tours quickly and easily with the ability to organize times and share tours with clients on both the web and mobile application. Agents connect the tour to their calendar and open directions for the tour directly in Google Maps. This eliminates the need for agents to use multiple platforms to organize tours creating a seamless collaboration between agents and clients.

Overall, Zenlist's showing tours functionality is a significant advantage over Zillow, providing agents with a comprehensive and user-friendly tool for organizing and sharing tours with their clients.

Which platform is better for real estate agents and their clients, Zenlist or Zillow?

Zillow is a helpful tool for casual home buyers browsing multiple markets with limited collaboration features. Zenlist focuses on agent-client relationships and empowers agents to become more efficient and grow their business through its thoughtful and innovative tools.

While both Zenlist and Zillow offer similar functions, it's clear that the two platforms, Zenlist and Zillow, differ significantly in their features and approaches. For consumers who are casually browsing for homes, Zillow's free and user-friendly platform may be a convenient option. However, once a consumer becomes serious about buying a property, or is working with an agent who can invite them to Zenlist, the platform offers several advantages over Zillow. Both platforms strive to offer a more modern home search tool but Zillow is more consumer focused vs. Zenlist which is more agent focused. Zillow allows clients to easily search across markets without being connected to a specific agent while Zenlist helps agents build and retain client relationships throughout the buying process with its collaborative features.

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