I Helped Launch Zillow Offers in Central Florida - What I Learned
Zillow recruited me, prior to their launch in the Central Florida Market, due to my having an active real estate license (Orlando Regional Realtors Association top 5.9% in 2020 & top 8.7% in 2021) and my construction management experience. Initially, I was hired as a Renovations Estimator where I would perform a full assessment of a property and provide renovations estimates prior to the purchase. I also provided our team After Repair Values (ARVs) and reports of what upgrades would be most impactful from a Return On Investment (ROI) standpoint. I was promoted within Zillow to manage their renovations where I would regularly oversee a portfolio of 15-20 property renovations at any given time. After Zillow, I joined SMS Assist as an SFR Construction Manager. Besides each company having their own proprietary software, there were many similarities between the two.
Here are some things I learned during my time with Zillow:
1. We moved quickly when sufficient data was available but didn't hesitate to slow down when it wasn't. When we could burn and churn, we would but that wasn't always the case. As the only actively licensed realtor in the Central Florida Market employed with Zillow (1 of 2), I would provide the team with ARVs on properties based on different renovations being considered. The team needed a full picture of what they were getting into before moving forward.
2. We took as much time as we needed upfront to make sure the entire scope of work was captured but this didn't mean moving slowly, it meant moving efficiently. Zillow spared no expense on training their Renovations Estimators. We were initially flown out to one of Zillow's primary branch offices and then spent a considerable amount of time (months) in our market with extensive training from several Zillow National Renovations Managers. As a Renovations Estimator, I was given 2 hours for each property I was to go perform an assessment on. I would look at EVERYTHING short of anything that would require an invasive inspection. A separate local team would then analyze my reports and spend time researching any information on the property they could find from various resources (this is typically when they would also utilize my RE experience for ARVs etc).
3. Renovations will be your second largest expense (following the actual purchase itself) if you are buying cash. Renovations going as smoothly as possible are vital to your success. Understanding the scope of work as a Project Manager will help you get ahead of the potential unforeseen circumstances you're almost certainly going to be faced with. If you have several properties in your portfolio that you will be assigning to a Project Manager, you will want to avoid overburdening them since this is how things may begin to "fall through the cracks". Depending on the scopes of work, I would comfortably manage around 15 renovations at any given time.
I took what I learned and successfully flipped a property, remodeled & rented a second property, and have helped many investors do the same!