Compare Zillow Flex Program and Jovio

For Sellers

Referred Agents
25%-40%
Referral Fee
Zillow Premier Broker program does not provide real estate services to home sellers. Instead, this program matches consumers with various real estate agents in exchange for a 25%-40% referral fee. Zillow Premier Broker results suffer from pay-to-play bias because the network does not match consumers with agents unwilling to pay a significant part of their commission.

For Sellers

Listing Rate
1%
Commission
A minimum listing fee of $3,995 and other terms may apply. Buyer's Agent Commission (2.5%-3%) is not included, but sellers may be able to negotiate this as well.

For Buyers

Referred Agents
25%-40%
Referral Fee
Zillow Premier Broker program does not provide real estate services to home buyers. Instead, this program matches consumers with various real estate agents in exchange for a 25%-40% referral fee. Zillow Premier Broker results suffer from pay-to-play bias because the network does not match consumers with agents unwilling to pay a significant part of their commission.

For Buyers

Buyer’s Savings
33%
Commission Rebate
When Jovio Real Estate represents home buyers, it contributes 33% of its Buyer's Agent Commission (2.5%-3%) to the buyer as a way to financially compete for buyer’s business. Home buyers do not pay any taxes on the amount, the refund amount is always tax-free. A minimum commission and other terms may apply.
Question: What is the difference between Zillow Flex Program and Jovio?
Answer: Zillow Flex Program is a referral fee network that enables broker-to-broker collusion with use of blanket referral agreements while Jovio is a full-service real estate agent that offers savings to homebuyers and home sellers
Compare Zillow Flex Program and Jovio for home buying and selling. HomeOpenly is an impartial and an open resource focused on trending real estate services, portals and start-ups.

First published: 31 August 2019
Last updated: 25 April 2021

Buying and Selling with Zillow Flex Program

Consumer Warning

Zillow Flex Program is a broker-to-broker collusion scheme, where all real estate agents agree to pay massive kickbacks to receive your information. As a consumer, you will always overpay for broker commissions subject to hidden kickbacks and pay-to-play steering promoted in their referral scheme. United States federal antitrust laws prohibit consumer allocation and blanket referral agreements between real estate companies. Do not allow your information to be "sold as a lead" between brokers in exchange for massive commission kickbacks paid from your future home sale, or your future home purchase.


Zillow Flex Program is a real estate referral fee network that is designed to collect undisclosed referral fees from real estate agents. Within this network, Zillow Group screens and refers consumers to real estate agents with a pre-existing "blanket" referral agreements. Zillow Group refers to this referral service as a Zillow Flex Program because it allows brokers to participate without paying any upfront costs to Zillow Group.

As a consumer filling out a contact form on the Zillow-owned (Zillow, Trulia, etc.) web site, "you authorize Zillow to make Real Estate Referral and acknowledge Zillow may be paid valuable consideration for facilitating such referral." Zillow Group does not disclose to consumers how much "valuable consideration" it receives from participating brokers. "The established referral fees are specific to each market in order to account for local pricing trends," according to Zillow.

Zillow Flex Program is a form of pay-to-play consumer brokering product that relies on the use of blanket referral agreements to pay for each referral. Blanket referral agreements between brokers are a per se violation of the Sherman Act. With Zillow Flex Program consumers are effectively pre-screened by Zillow and “sold as leads” to whoever is willing to pay for this information with a share of their commission.

Zillow Flex Program Pricing

Zillow Premier Broker does not offer paid services to consumers directly, instead, the portal generates revenue with estimated 25%-40% referral fees from real estate brokers. Zillow Group declines to disclose the exact fee amount.

Listing Services

  • This Service Does Not Represent Sellers

Buyer's Agent Services

  • This Service Does Not Represent Buyers

Zillow Flex Program Editor's Review:

This review is focused on the Zillow Flex Program program only. Two separate reviews are assigned to Zillow Instant Offers and Zillow MLS aggregator programs. Since Zillow was first founded, it has idolized itself as a real estate Internet company. However, with an introduction of Zillow Flex Program in 2018, this is no longer the case.

Today, Zillow acts as a "paper" real estate broker. This fact allows Zillow to receive referral fees from real estate agents across the United States.

Zillow operates under the following real estate brokerage license in the following States:

Arizona CO580407000
California 01522444
California 01980367
Colorado 100080923
Florida CQ1058944
Georgia 76885
Minnesota 40638657
Nevada B.1002277.CORP
North Carolina C30388
Texas 549646
Washington 21212
Wisconsin 835987-91

Real estate agents are allowed to pay one another referral fees with a narrow RESPA provision that is needed to allow individual agents to refer business to other individual agents outside their service area. Despite being registered as a broker, Zillow does not perform real estate services, it simply sends leads to specific agents within its network and uses a real estate license to collect a back-loaded referral fee in the process.

Referral fee revenue is 32x that of a regular advertisement revenue because it results in an economic process called reverse competition, where consumers suffer from elevated costs and lower service as a result. A referral network is anything but free.

The following are some telling quotes from Zillow itself and a Premier Broker program participants. These words speak for themselves.

  • "We receive listing and buyer referrals directly from Zillow's Premier Broker concierge services. These leads have been scrubbed and vetted before they are directly handed off to you." Source: Sonoma County RE/MAX Marketplace, Zillow Flex Program participant.
  • "We will validate all leads first, then send agent-ready buyers to you." Source: Zillow website.
  • "What happens if you miss a call? Don't worry. You won't lose your place in the queue and we will call you with the next connection we validate." Source: Zillow website.

Zillow Group does not disclose the exact amount in referral fees it collects from Premier Brokers, aside from stating that it is an "industry standard." Similar referral fee networks typically receive 25%-40% of the agent's total commission. This is a good reference for the amount in commissions consumers can expect to overpay for their real estate services with a Premier Broker. Zillow Flex Program is a pay-to-play process that harms the industry as a whole and makes buying and selling homes more expensive.

Why does the Zillow allow for such poor UX? There are thousands and sometimes tens of thousands in fees collected from each transaction effectively hidden in consumer’s commission.

Consumers in the United States have been systematically conditioned to a 6% "standard" commission structure, a non-negotiable fact that needs no justification. Unfortunately, this inefficiency alone breeds uncompetitive behavior where real estate agents can easily pay tens of thousands in fees because they are recoverable with a high commission.

Consumers are truly forgotten in this model as an afterthought. When these exigent commissions are amortized over the first five years of homeownership, these fees are the highest single expense line-item - more than the insurance, more than the interest, more than utilities. Clearly, real estate agents only sign-up with Premier Broker because the price of the referral fee can be easily incorporated into their client's agreement with excessive commissions.

RESPA allows for an exception for real estate agents if and only if “all parties are acting in a real estate brokerage capacity" so that individual agents can refer each other when they are out of the local area. This exception has now been turned up-side-down where a referral network does not act in the capacity of a real estate broker. Zillow Group simply uses a license to collect fees without any tangible services done as defined by said license.

Consumers looking to work with a legitimate real estate agent on fair terms should absolutely avoid Zillow Flex Program and never release their full name, email and a phone number to Zillow Group.

The issue of having all US residential real estate markets heavily subjected to these schemes results in noncompetitive behavior, higher costs to consumers and lower quality of service. Having agents "commonly" pay networks 25%-45% of their commission is the true reason why real estate is broken.

Zillow Group matches consumers with "great, amazing, top-producing, perfect agents" based on who first picks up the phone and who is willing to kick in a chunk of their commission, this is the main basis for this process.

What happens when this flawed revenue model is no longer sustainable due to competitive commissions entering the market? The next stage of real estate innovation will have to account for this reality. In play are now competitive open rates, flat fees and buyer’s refunds from highly qualified real estate agents.

Transparent commission rates will eventually bring and end to a pay-to-play phenomenon in the real estate process where programs like Premier Broker simply cannot exist.

Today, consumers should be careful and only negotiate with agents that have no referral fee agreements signed, this is the only way to negotiate for full service at a market rate.

Where does Zillow Flex Program operate?

Zillow Flex Program currently operates in select areas across Fort Collins, CO, Pueblo, CO, New Haven, CT, Norwich, CT, Phoenix, AZ and Atlanta, GA..

Buying and Selling with Jovio Real Estate

Jovio is a full service real estate agent based in Austin, TX. Jovio offers consumers listing savings and buyer's refunds in select service areas across Texas.

Jovio Real Estate Pricing

Offers consumers listing savings to sellers (1% listing fee) and buyer’s savings (33% buyer’s commission rebate)

Listing Services

  • MLS Listing
  • Zillow, Trulia, etc. Listing
  • Accept and Deliver All Offers and Counteroffers
  • Hold Open Houses
  • Professional Photography
  • Professional Floor Plans
  • Yard Signage Installation
  • Spare Key Lock-box Installation
  • Schedule Inspection Services
  • Schedule Private Showings
  • Closing Duties

Buyer's Agent Services

  • Find the Property
  • Accept and Deliver All Offers and Counteroffers
  • Recommend Other Professionals
  • Attend Inspection Services
  • Schedule Private Showings
  • Negotiate Needed Repairs
  • Closing Duties

Jovio Editor's Review:

Jovio offers excellent representation services for buying and selling a home. Jovio is a tech-enabled brokerage with the knowledge and tools built to help consumers archive an excellent real estate transaction experience.

Jovio listing service includes posting home on the MLS and MLS Aggregator services, professional photos, and all typical services offered by a traditional real estate agent. Jovio charges a listing fee of 1% of the final sales price of your property. A minimum listing fee of $3,995 applies. If at any point during the term of the listing agreement the seller decides to terminate the said agreement, she is only responsible for paying $495 setup fee.

Jovio recommends offering a cooperating buyer agent commission that helps to attract buyers who are already working with an agent. Sellers are free to offer any amount they like to buyer’s agents, but 2.5% - 3% Buyer’s Agent Commission is recommended. Buyers can easily negotiate a rebate with their agent to reduce the costs of the Buyer’s Agent Commission amount. Eventually, all closing costs are paid by the buyer.

Jovio claims to list a home in as little as 24 hours. The majority of Jovio sellers get their home listed within several days of meeting with Jovio. To determine your home’s listing price, Jovio first gathers local information about comparable properties in your neighborhood. Jovio furthers helps to evaluate your home’s condition and any recent upgrades or improvements to come up with the best listing price for the home.

When self-represented buyers approach Jovio about the seller’s listing, Jovio reduces the 3% Buyer’s Agent Commission to 2% in favor of the seller and then splits its commission with the buyer, meaning buyers receive 1% (33% buyer’s commission rebate) back on their new home. This allows all parties to save a significant amount in buy-side commissions, but it also requires the buyer to accept the potential downside of dual representation.

For buyers, Jovio Real Estate offers on-demand home tours and an excellent client web portal for monitoring the purchase process. Jovio offers overall great value to consumers looking to buy or sell a home.

Where does Jovio operate?

Jovio currently operates in select areas across Austin, TX; Houston, TX; San Antonio, TX; Dallas, TX; Barton Creek, TX; Bee Cave, TX; Del Valle, TX; Garfield, TX; Hays, TX; Hornsby Bend, TX; Lost Creek, TX; Manchaca, TX; Mc Neil, TX; Onion Creek, TX; Pflugerville, TX; Rollingwood, TX; San Leanna, TX; Shady Hollow, TX; Sunset Valley, TX; West Lake Hills, TX; Cedar Park, TX; Round Rock, TX; Lakeway, TX; Westlake, TX; Elgin, TX; Leander, TX; Georgetown, TX; Hutto, TX; Taylor, TX; San Marcos, TX, and Kyle, TX..