Zillow-Jacking (Lead Strategy)

A quick and dirty guide to how I hi-jacked high quality leads from Zillow — without being a paid member or spending a dime on ads.


A  few months back, I tried a new strategy on Zillow. It went bonkers.

It took about fifteen minutes to implement, and these are the results:

Week 1: 13 new leads
Week 2: 9 new leads

Now I consistently generate 2-3 new leads per week from this strategy. As far as I can tell this will continue forever, or until the house sells.

Why this strategy works

Here at Guerilla Realty we test new lead strategies constantly. We’re literally willing to try anything (if it’s ethical).

I’ve noticed a counter-intuitive trend lately. Our biggest successes come when we are willing to try things that are just not done.

Anytime I try normal marketing (buying leads from realtor.com for example), I hemorrhage money, work in circles for 60+ hours per week… and I do all of that for about 2 leads per week (non-exclusive leads, of course).

By contrast, whenever I try something out of the norm (the method I’m about to teach you), things go bonkers. I’m inundated with new leads, I spend minimal time and effort. Everything just starts to click.

While it’s counter-intuitive, it also makes a certain kind of sense. Think about it.

There are over a million real estate agents in the U.S. all marketing themselves using only a handful of old strategies. Even many of the “new” strategies are just updated variations of the same old ideas. When you deviate from script, you might look weird. But you also suddenly have very little competition. Just lots of lead opportunities.

This Zillow leads strategy is a major deviation. I call it “Zillow-jacking”. You might raise a few eyebrows with it, but rest assured it’s totally ethical and extremely effective.

Some things that could have been improved

Once you factor in the cost (it’s free) and the time investment (about 15 minutes),  I think any agent not willing to try it is crazy.

I used this strategy to generate 13 new buyer leads in one week. I’m not a Zillow Premier agent, I didn’t pay for leads, and I achieved these results in spite of a series of obstacles that made this case study sub-optimal.

  • I don’t have any active listings. (I’ll show you what I did instead.)
  • I did very little testing. I spent about 15 minutes upfront and never went back to tweak or improve it.
  • I’m in a low trafficked market. It didn’t seem to matter.

In fact, none of those things seem to matter. My results speak for themselves.

Backstory of how we started generating leads from Zillow

Five years ago we created a free photo branding tool. We got tired of seeing giant companies like Zillow and REALTOR.com use our listings to generate business for our competitors.

Don’t get me wrong. We love the additional exposure that Zillow brings to our listings. But Zillow displays their “Premier Agents” in such a way that it makes it confusing who the listing agent is.

When we created Free Photo Branding, our goal was to make it abundantly clear who the listing agent is and maybe generate a few extra leads per month from it (if we’re lucky).

Back then Zillow was a fledgling startup. Today they are the number one home search in the world. Zillow generates so much traffic that we started to wonder, “Is there any way to tap into that traffic without becoming a paid Zillow agent?”

The answer is yes.

We tested the following method, and our results were umm… well, let’s just say they exceeded expectations.

I ran this test for seven days and generated 13 authentic buyer leads (some will also be seller leads, but we don’t have numbers on this yet).

I feel pretty comfortable saying that is probably more leads than a Zillow Premier Agent in my zip code received during the same time period — and they are paying $500+ per month.

All right, enough introduction. Here is a step-by-step guide to implement this strategy in the next fifteen minutes.

Step 1: Claim a listing on Zillow

If you have one or more active listings, great! Follow this guide to claim each listing and then move to step 2.

If you don’t have any active listings, don’t fret. You can still implement this strategy if you’re willing to get creative.

I have transitioned to full-time running Guerilla Realty the technology business, so I don’t have any active listings. Here are two options that I have tested (both work).

#1 – List your home FSBO. I have been considering selling my home in North Carolina for years, so I finally pulled the trigger to see what kind of offers I can get.

#2 – Contact FSBOs through Zillow, and set this strategy up for them. Let them know you’ll be calling all the buyers who decide they don’t want their property.

Both methods will work. I chose option #2, because most agents will be too chicken to try it. I want to show them that it works.

Here’s a video that shows you how to list a home FSBO on Zillow.

Step 2: Create an awesome listing video for the property

Next, create a video tour of the the property to use as a bribe to attract leads. You can use Listing Cake to create an awesome interior tour of the house. It’s free and awesome.

Once your “bribe” is ready, set it aside. We’ll come back to it in a minute.

Step 3: Brand the listing photo(s) with a CTA

Next take a photo of the house and run it through Free Photo Branding.

Brand it with this simple call to action (CTA): “For free video tour text 55555 to 555-555-5555”

It’ll look basically like this:


If you don’t have a text auto-responder with unique property codes, we include this tool and unlimited SMS texts with our Pipeline Pro Tools system. Check here to see if it’s available in your area.

If you’re dead broke and you just want more leads, you can always ask them to text a made up code directly to your mobile number. You can manually reply to a link to your Listing Cake video.

By the way, I’ll take this opportunity to address a huge myth. The myth is that you need amazing photos of your property to generate quality leads. In fact, professional quality photos will actually the lead generation value of the listing.

Why? Simple. If you post 50+ beautiful HD photos of the property from every angle, you’ll satisfy the buyer’s curiosity, and they’ll move on to the next Zillow listing.

If you limit the number of photos posted, curiosity will kick in and drive more leads your way.

In my Zillow listing, I post only a few photos. Nothing fancy, just the basics.

Step 4: Finally, upload the photo

Set this branded photo as the lead listing photo, and that’s it. Now sit back and wait for the leads to roll in.

You’ll begin receiving a steady flow of buyer leads by text. I received a total of 13 leads in 7 days. My total expenditure was $0.00.

The best part about this method is that it’s scalable. Imagine how many leads you could generate if you had 3 listings, or 10?

There is lots of low hanging fruit in real estate, but this is about the lowest hanging fruit I’ve ever found. I can’t wait to see other agents implement this method and share their own results.

If you like this method please click the share button. It means a lot to me.

Quick Disclaimer

The legal geeks are going to come out of the woodwork to tell me it’s against Zillow’s Terms of Use to use branded photos.

Yep, you’re right. However, that rule is for spammers, not agents. Freephotobranding.com has been shared hundreds and hundreds of times and used by thousands and thousands of agent, and I have never heard of a single story of a branded photo being taken down.

In the end, I don’t think you’ll experience any problems with Zillow’s Terms of Use. But frankly, I don’t want to pay Zillow $500/mo for weak leads, so if this method is the end of my relationship with Zillow, I’ll be okay.

Freephotobranding.com is free (duh). If you want to use the method exactly like I do, then you’ll need a text capture service. You’ll get it with our Pipeline Pro Tools system along with a bunch of other tools. Altogether it only costs $99/month.

The only thing that might stop you from getting it is if we’re sold out in your market. It only takes about 10 seconds to find out. Just click this link to check.

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