How to Navigate Consumer Sites

If you're listing your home or searching for a new one, chances are you've used at least one of these sites. We've created a guide with everything you need to know about the differences  between the three.

There are hundreds of consumer search sites on the internet, covering every niche of the real estate industry. However, the three biggest are Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com.  If you have been in the market for a home or have your home listed for sale, you have probably been on one of these sites. They each have some key differences; here’s everything you need to know about each one.

1. Zillow - Zillow’s search seems pretty straightforward; you enter a location, fill out a few other preferences, and browse the listings that pop up. If you’re interested in a listing, you click the “Contact Agent” button - but what happens next?

When you fill out the contact agent form, you may assume you’ll be contacting the listing agent of the property. However, that’s not always the case. Unless you specifically click the button next to the listing agent when entering your contact information, you will be connected with one of the other agents shown, a “Premier Agent”.  Zillow Premier Agents have paid to have their contact information displayed alongside listings in your area. These agents may not be the most knowledgeable about the home but if you aren't already working with a buyer's agent then this is a good way to get someone who will work in your best interest.  If you already have a trusted buyer's agent then your best bet is to forward the listing to that agent.

What is the Zestimate?

The Zestimate, shown just below the actual price on each listing, is the Zillow Estimate of Value.  It is also known as an AVM (automated valuation model). This is computer generated price based on an algorithm that is supposed to use comparable sales to calculate how much the property is worth. However, the Zestimate cannot take into account everything about the property condition and the neighborhood, and it is frequently inaccurate. A real estate professional is the best resource to get an accurate valuation of your home.

The bottom line is:

Ignore The Zestimate

Also on the listing page, Zillow has a “listing history” function. While the listing history can give you an idea of how long the property has been on the market, it’s not always accurate. Don’t be scared off by a property that has been on and off the market or had frequent price changes. Ask your real estate agent; they may know more about the listing history.

If a listing seems to have a wide range of listing/sale prices, it may have previously been offered with an additional lot, furnishings, or other terms that would increase the sale price. The listing history does not show the terms of the sale - only the prices and dates.

Trulia

Trulia is another popular consumer site. Zillow purchased Trulia in 2015 - both are now under the ownership of Zillow Group.



The main difference between Zillow and Trulia is Trulia does not have the Zestimate. Similar to Zillow, when you hit the orange “request info” button, your request will go to a Premier Agent rather than the listing agent. To contact the listing agent, be sure to select them specifically, or call the number listed next to their photo. Your best bet is always to share the listing with your preferred, trusted buyer's agent. They are the person working in your best interest.

Realtor.com® has been around the longest of the 3 sites. On Realtor.com®, only the listing agent will be shown; however, the “Contact Agent” form may not be sent to the listing agent. Realtor.com® has an operating agreement with the National Association of Realtor®s for the use of the name Realtor®, but the site is owned and operated by Move, Inc. a division of News Corp.  You do not need to be a Realtor®to have your listing appear on Realtor.com®, however, if you are a Realtor® (someone who pays dues to the National Association of Realtor®s), the Realtor® logo will appear on your listing near your name. The listing broker's information is located at the bottom of the listing, along with their office phone number. You must be a licensed Real Estate Professional (different than a Realtor®) to list a property on Realtor.com®.