Compare Zillow Flex Program and Landis

For Sellers

Referred Agents
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

No Service
No Rates
Landis does not offer home listing services to consumers.

For Buyers

Referred Agents
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

Rent and Fees
Landis does not provide real estate services to home sellers. Instead, this company buys a home, rents it, and later offers to sell it to the tenant. The total cost of Landis program is impossible to estimate in advance. Landis revenue come from rent, origination fees, and a 3% increase between the price of the home when Landis buys it and the price it sells it to the tenant after a year.
Question: What is the difference between Zillow Flex Program and Landis?
Answer: Zillow Flex Program is a referral fee network that enables broker-to-broker collusion with use of blanket referral agreements while Landis is a rent-to-own program that does not provide real estate services
Compare Zillow Flex Program and Landis 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: 01 September 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 with Landis

Landis is a rent-to-own program that purchases the home and then rents it out to you as a tenant. Landis claims to operate a one-year program for the tenants to buy the property once they can afford a down payment. A common complaint with all rent-to-own programs is an inability of the tenant to secure a loan in time to purchase the property, at which point the tenant is either forced to walk away with a loss or continues to rent.

Landis may sometimes suggest that a customer reach out to someone (e.g. a lender) who can help them, but the company doesn’t make money from it, and only gives the info to the customer, not the customer's info to anyone else. Landis does not receive any referral fees from third parties (such as lenders, real estate brokers, etc.) and keenly guards customers' information. This is a refreshing approach that adds value to consumers. Landis states that: "companies at our stage don't have any incentive to charge hidden fees: growth and customer experience simply matter much more than revenue."

Landis Pricing

Landis revenue comes from the price of rent and a 3% increase between the price of the home when Landis buys it and the price it sells it to the tenant after a year.

Landis is silent on what happens in a situation when the price of the home drops before the tenant can buy it, or if the mortgage rates increase during the tenancy period. When consumers use Landis, they are unable to take advantage of a buyer’s commission rebate from a real estate agent because the company is the one actually buying the home.

Landis states that it receives "no rebates or commissions from agents, we pay agents their full commission, as though they were working with the customer."

When it comes to the cost of rent Landis says that "we're very upfront with our users that during the 12 months of the program, we are more expensive than owning, or even renting. That's because we need our customers to put money to the side for their down payment … our only revenue is market rent and 3% appreciation at the end of the year. The economics work out because we're in areas where average rents are high."

Listing Services

  • This Service Does Not Represent Sellers

Buyer's Agent Services

  • This Service Does Not Represent Buyers

Landis Editor's Review:

Landis program purchases the home and rents it to the tenant with an option to buy. Landis reviews full financial, credit, and work history of each potential tenant. Those few applicants who pass the screening may select a home within the allowed amount Landis sets. A tenant pays rent, a portion of which becomes a down payment to eventually buy the home. After a year, if the tenant decides to move out, Landis deducts half of the down payment amount saved, as an added fee. When purchasing a house from Landis, a tenant must and pay closing costs of the sale.

Landis has only enough cash on hand (structured as debt) to place offers against a handful of properties. This is why the company likely rejects the majority of applications as a way to reduce risk. It is safe to assume that only a very small number of applications with Landis are approved.

According to the company, "lenders send us customers that want to buy a home but can't close on a loan. It could be due to a low credit score, insufficient down payment, a recent bankruptcy, self-employment, or some other reason."

To secure a mortgage on competitive terms is a primary and the best option to buy a home. Yes, the down payment is difficult, but adding Landis to the mix doesn't solve the overall affordability. Landis claims that owning a home is always cheaper than renting it, but Landis is a landlord.

There is nothing to substantiate that renting a home from Landis is less expensive to own it during that same time frame. There is also nothing to suggest that Landis is offering reduced rent to the tenant at any given time. Buying a property is a risk, and Landis must account for this risk with added fees. The true costs of this rent-to-buy program are incredibly difficult to estimate by anyone other than Landis, and these costs are absolutely real.

Buyers are unlikely to receive a buyer's rebate from a real estate agent when buying with Landis program.

Buying a home is one of the most important transactions in people's lives, especially the first home. By adding Landis rent-to-own proposition, buyers are subjecting their transaction to the additional 3% appreciation fees, paying rent, and a possible loss of half of the down payment amount if moving out.

Landis receives a neutral editor's score because of several factors. When asked, the company declined to disclose its application volume and applicant success rates. Lack of this information makes it difficult to estimate the “weight” of overall operations and the returns the company is required to make against the total number of participants.

An undisputed positive is that the company doesn’t make money from referrals, making their claims to hold consumers’ best interest viable.

Landis claims that owning in the long term is cheaper than renting, especially in the markets where it operates. However, there is no clear evidence money is saved and there is no evidence that consumers who choose the Landis model end up with a higher chance of purchasing the home.

Landis states: “We completely agree that a mortgage is better. That's why we coach all our customers to do what they need to get a mortgage. It's the whole point of the company. We work with those who simply can't get a mortgage (because of credit score, down payment, etc.) and we coach them to fix what prevents them from getting one. As soon as they can get one, they graduate from the program.”

We find no solid evidence that Landis offers home buyers tangible savings as part of their rent-to-own program, but at the same time, some home buyers may decide for themselves that the program is worth the added fees.

HomeOpenly editorial staff remains overall neutral on the subject: we can neither recommend Landis nor suggest that buyers refrain from using the program.

Where does Landis operate?

Landis currently operates in select areas across Select markets in Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee..