Which Real Estate Search Portal is the Best?

Nowadays, just about everyone looking to buy or sell real estate begins their search online and new real estate listings services have drastically changed the way Americans look for homes. It’s now possible, with a click of a mouse, to find the sales price of the home next door, search for listings in a given school zone and take virtual tours of homes you’re interested in.

And yes, there’s an app for that. All the major services have mobile apps, and you can get text alerts to notify you when new properties matching your search criteria hit the market. Some apps show you houses you may like based on your searches and those you’ve already looked at.

A small handful of websites have been dominating the consumer side of online real estate and home search. These sites include Realtor.comZillow.com and Trulia.com.

While each of these sites is known for something, Realtor.com for the most accurate listing data and complete source of homes for sale (the site pulls it’s data directly from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – the service otherwise accessible only to industry professionals), Zillow for it’s Zestimates or what the company claims are estimates of market value and are a starting point for determining a home’s value (not to mention their coming soon listings), and Trulia for displaying neighborhood data such as crime statistics, public transit routes and amenities.

All the sites allow you to set alerts that notify you when a new property goes on the market. That’s important in a competitive market, where you may need to jump on new listings immediately.

Despite the wealth of information both Zillow and Trulia offer, you may not want to use either site as your primary resource if you’re actively searching for a home. A 2012 study found that out of 6,401 home listings in 33 zip codes from 11 metro areas Zillow and Trulia were missing about 20% of these listings. The survey also found that Zillow and Trulia tended to lag by about a week in displaying new listings (with the exception of Zillow’s coming soon listings). By that time, a home could have received an offer and gone under contract. What’s more, about a third of properties shown as active on Zillow and Trulia were no longer for sale.

Estimating Property Values

There are many reasons why you might want to see an estimate of a property’s value:

– You’re moving, and you want to get an idea of which neighborhoods are in your price range.

– You’re thinking about writing an offer on a home, and you want to know if the list price reflects the home’s market value in the hope of avoiding overpaying.

– You’re thinking about selling, and you want to know how much money you might get.

– You want to refinance, and before you spend several hundred dollars on an appraisal, you want to get an idea of whether your home will appraise high enough to allow refinancing.

We suggest that consumers using these sites keep in mind that they are only rough estimates, and very rough at that! These sites only consider very basic information such as number of bedrooms and baths, square footage (as a range), etc. What these sites fail to take into consideration are important factors such as the specific neighborhood in which the home is located, lot size and view, the overall condition, amenities, floor plan, upgrades and improvements, level of finish (Does the home include hardwood floors or carpet, granite counter tops or laminate, a full finished basement with a wet bar and theater room or an unfinished partial basement with a crawl space? Did the comparables? Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com don’t know.) Quite simply, these sites incorrectly assume that your neighbor’s home, and any home in close proximity is a comparable property. The aforementioned factors have been referred to as unzillowables and these important data points are critical components in the assessment of real estate values.

Realtor.com provides home value estimates from three home value estimating platforms — SmartZip Analytics, DataQuick and eppraisal.com — even on homes not currently for sale.

To its credit, Zillow is forthcoming about how (in)accurate its estimates are, showing a range of possible high and low values when you click on a particular home, and useing a star rating system to show users how confident it is about Zestimates overall in various areas.

Trulia Estimates tend to differ from Zestimates, and Trulia also states that some of its estimates are more accurate than others, but this disclosure isn’t as apparent when looking at individual listings. Trulia encourages users to request a report on any home whose value they’re interested in, which puts you in touch with a local real estate agent. Both sites make it easy to see comparable listings and recently sold homes near a specific property.

Zillow purchased Trulia and the two have merged however, the two sites will remain separate: Zillow will focus on “the full lifecycle of owning and living in a home: buying, selling, renting, financing, remodeling and more,” while Trulia will retain a narrower focus on the home-search process.

Why Use a Real Estate Agent When Buying a Home

How to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent When Buying a Home

Why Use a Real Estate Agent When Selling a Home

How to Pick the Right Agent to Sell Your Home

If you, or someone you know is considering Buying or Selling a Home in Columbus, Ohio please contact The Opland Group. We offer professional real estate advice and look forward to helping you achieve your real estate goals!

The Opland Group Specializes in Real Estate Sales, Luxury Home Sales, Short Sales in; Bexley 43209 Columbus 43201 43206 43214 43215 Delaware 43015 Dublin 43016 43017 Gahanna 43219 43230 Grandview Heights 43212 Hilliard 43026 Lewis Center 43035 New Albany 43054 Pickerington Powell 43065 Upper Arlington 43220 43221 Westerville 43081 43082 Worthington 43235

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