All of a sudden, real estate has gone from the top finance topics to the most controversial of subjects everyone is talking about. Every other person you meet has an opinion about what happened, how we got here, whose fault it is and what the future holds. And it's all changing, from the digitization of old-school multiple listing service printed books, which brought listing information to the people, to Craigslist. Realtors and individuals are taking matters into their own hands. And along the way, commercial websites are cashing in, big time.
No matter who you are, client or agent, you quickly discovered that there are three main websites that are the most popular when it comes to looking to buy or listing a home anywhere in the country. Realtor.com, Zillow.com and Trulia.com are the three heavy hitters in online advertising and information in real estate sales and marketing. Each site lists homes available for sale, some for rent, and a great deal of information regarding the neighborhoods, comparable sales and general market statistics. Although each of the sites are quite similar, there are some subtle differences in them and a variety of opinions on which site offers the best information. Posing as a realtor I've been able to get some inside information on commercial sites and how they operate. A future article will deal with my findings in this regard. It's not pretty.
Realtor.com has been the standard in online real estate for some time. In Oregon the multiple listing service is RMLS.COM. Realtor.com and similar sights get their basic feeds from RMLS.COM or other MLS databases. Commercial sites are linked to the MLS so any homes that are listed on the MLS will be available to see on this site. It generally offers more specific property information that you would find on the MLS site with many more photos as well. It offers basic options on the home page allowing you to choose between finding a home for sale or rent, with filters for price, number of rooms and location. You have the ability to search for a realtor as well as to check out details on the market is particular areas. Additionally, you will find links available for assistance in finding a lender, moving and various other home and garden type websites that appeal to potential home owners.
Zillow.com is another online source for real estate information, and a lot of it. There are charts and graphs of the market from every possible angle. Trends in mortgage rates, home sales, home prices, foreclosures and any other statistics you can possibly imagine. The information is also broken down into every conceivable category. There is a link if you are a buyer and one for sellers. Information is available about the number of houses for sale and broken down to what is listed, for sale by owner or what they call “Make Me Move” listings of pre-market homes. What sets Zillow.com apart from Realtor.com is the sheer amount of information that is available for any market nationwide at the click of a mouse.
Trulia.com is very similar to Zillow.com with the differences being mainly aesthetic. It also has an overwhelming amount of information available and filters that can drill down to precisely what it is you are looking for. Advice columns and links to other professionals are important to the process of purchasing a home are all at your fingertips, just is a slightly different format than found on Zillow.com. Price reductions, new listings and even today’s average price per square foot value in any given area are available right on the Trulia.com home page.
When comparing these sites side by side, Realtor.com stands out as old school. This site gives you the basics without getting bogged down with an overwhelming amount of information. For people that are easily unnerved by too much information, Realtor.com may be the choice for you. In comparing Trulia.com and Zillow.com it boils down to what format you are most comfortable with. The court of public opinion is split on which of these sites is better to use. Although many people prefer the design and special features the Zillow.com has to offer, others find the information on Trulia.com to be more accurate than the information found on Zillow.com. The key to choosing the best real estate website is finding which one most suited to your personality and your needs.