If you’ve ever searched for a home online it would be no surprise that Zillow is the most widely used real estate search engine. Trulia comes in second a close (did you know that Zillow owns it?) Since this is one of the biggest purchases or sales you’ll ever make finding out if Zillow helping or hurting your home search or estimate of your property’s value is important.
When I talk to buyers and sellers, they tell me how they love using it. However, did you know that Trulia and Zillow have no connections to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?
If you’re checking out homes in Virginia Beach or other areas of Hampton Roads and you’re relying on Zillow and Trulia, your property search may be limited.
What is the MLS?
The Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, is what I consider the “supermarket” of real estate. This is the place where real estate agents advertize homes for sale. Each area has their own MLS service, which operates independently of other MLS services throughout the country.
Each region chooses their own software, which varies from location to location. The various technology resources used to advertise listings means that in order to get local information on properties for sale you’ll have to get it from that local MLS. ListHub, is the only platform that has successfully synchronized listing information nationwide from nearly 600 MLS data sources.
Although Zillow is a national company, they are not members of the National Association of Realtors and don’t have access to the MLS.
How did Zillow become so popular?
Zillow had a contract with ListHub, who provided them info from the MLS. However, that contract expired in 2015 and wasn’t renewed so they developed relationships with every
independent Multiple Listing service in the country. It has hurt the real estate industry, with buyers and sellers viewing Zillow as the authority in real estate.
Some local MLS services weren’t willing to provide Zillow with real estate data, but most did. As Zillow and similar national sites aren’t directly connected to the MLS, it can only feature a limited number of listings available. Zillow depends on real estate agents and their brokerages to independently advertise their listings on Zillow.com.
I have had buyers send me a list of “homes for sale” that they found on Zillow, and almost everyone was off the market, sold, or was not for sale. Why buyers and sellers are searching on a real estate search engine where about one-third of their data is either missing or inaccurate?
Zillow is a software engine that gets their information from local Multiple Listing Services, who received the inform atom from agents and their brokerages.
Zillow is not a licensed real estate company. They have no obligation towards the buyer or seller regarding the information on their website.
What’s the #1 Thing Driving Websites Today?
Zillow takes the information of the people who search their website and then sells that information back to real estate agents and Realtors®, who pay Zillow a monthly fee for this information. It doesn’t have to mean that the information is accurate. They just have to provide information to the agents who signed up and are paying for their service.
I did this when I first became a Realtor®. For six months I paid Zillow a fee and only received 4 peoples’ contact information. I was only able to reach one, and that person was very upset, asking me where I got his phone number. After that I stopped using their service, as it was clearly not worth it for me. That doesn’t mean, however, that there are some agents who are very successful using Zillow’s service. The ones who are seem to be paying a lot of money – about $1000 per month or more.
Besides, I believe that real estate is person-to-person business. I provide information online that I hope you find helpful and will help you reach your real estate goals. However, having a conversation to understand the customer’s needs and if we can work together is the ultimate goal. If you check my Zillow reviews or Facebook page to ask others about the service I provide, you’ll hear that I’m easy to work and will not force anyone to work with me.
On my website, you can search til your heart’s content. During the process I’ll suggest that you sign up to get property updates or request market snapshot of your property’s worth. JGonzalezHomes is directly connected to the MLS and updated every 15 minutes for the most accurate search in Hampton Roads.
There are customized home searches already created so you can search by city, location, neighborhood, price, zip code, military bases, school district, features such as “3 bedroom 2 bath homes” or “homes with a pool” and much more. If there’s something in particular that you are looking for I can customize a personal home search for you. Can Zillow do that for you?
Here’s the information on the information used for Zestimates and disclaimer:
The Zestimate® home valuation model is Zillow’s estimate of a home’s market value. The Zestimate incorporates public and user-submitted data, taking into account home facts, location and market conditions.
It is not an appraisal and it should be used as a starting point. We encourage buyers, sellers and homeowners to supplement the Zestimate with other research such as visiting the home, getting a professional appraisal of the home, or requesting a comparative market analysis (CMA) from a real estate agent.
I noted that, when a shopping center was being built nearby initially, Zillow included its value into the neighborhood’s estimates. This temporarily inflated home values for a while until they got it straight. Zillow’s search engine can’t tell the difference because it’s a search engine and not a person.
How would Zillow know if you made significant upgrades, added on a room, or remodeled the kitchen? Will they come out to your house to factor that into your estimate?
So, the next time you’re searching for real estate neighborhood market information or the newest available homes on the market, feel free to check out Zillow – but don’t discount the value of a website run by a live Realtor®.
Check out my site, and if you have questions give me a call.