We live in an age of information at our fingertips (literally). If you are wanting to make the family lasagna, with a twist, search Google for the recipe or for ideas. Need to know how to fix your power seat in the SUV, search Google the the answer. Want to buy a home with out spending weeks walking around and looking at 100’s of homes, search on-line.
With the emergence of sites like Zillow.com, Trulia.com and Homes.com. searching for the new family home can be done in your pajamas while watching t.v. at home. As an individual, I LOVE THESE SITES! As a real estate professional, I like them but want to caution people about them. There is so much good stuff, in general terms, about these sites that I am even a preferred partner on all three of them:
While Zillow is by far the most known and popular site, each one has a great niche. Zillow has it’s Zetimate, Trulia has its advise and free education and Homes.com has local market insights and easy search tools. I love the functionality and ease of each site, including the wealth of information they have. I do caution people about each one as well:
Zillow.com has their known “Zestimate” feature where they let you know their “estimate” on property values and rental values. This is a great tool to get you in the ball-park, however I find that it is typically way off. What homeowners (and future homeowners) don’t understand is that this is just an estimate based off limited data. This data includes County Assessors valuations (for tax purposes), listed and sold data in the area (but does not take into account buyer/seller concessions, financing terms, etc.) and “user submitted” data. Thankfully, Zillow does not claim great accuracy in their Zestimate feature and even claims on their website to contact a licensed agent for a CMA (competitive market analysis) and/or an appraiser for a full appraisal. We have seen Zestimate values off as much as $10,000 (more or less than the Zestimate).
Trulia is great for education. they publish excellent educational resources and advise articles to assist those messing around in the real estate market. My caution to this has always been that just because you read it on-line, studied it a little off a site and read blog posts…it does not make you qualified to buy or sell a home on your own. As a real estate professional, I feel that a large part of my job is to serve as a teacher and counselor to my client’s. This site is great for breaking that ice, however, only a trained, licensed agent can quickly navigate through the complex process of buying and selling real estate. In Colorado, for me to apply for my real estate license, I had to complete a minimum of 168 hours of schooling on real estate basics and real estate law. This does not include the required 12 hours, per year. in minimum required continuing education to maintain the license, 20 hours of training with Keller Williams to work there and the 100’s of hours in annual training to be competent in the market today and the ever changing real estate industry.
Homes.com has the least features (add-on and value added features) than Zillow and Trulia, however has a easy to navigate site with many free tools and resources for you to use. If you notice, all these sites have 1,000’s of homes for sale, and most of them are already sold or under contract. This is because they do not update their status like the MLS (multiple listing service – agent search tool) does and therefore the information on the property is usually not current or accurate. Like all these sites, use it as a supplement to hiring a licensed, competent real estate professional.
NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS: Using your Agent’s website search tools (MLS service) can provide you with the most up to date information on homes for sale. Since our search tool is tied directly to the listing database, we find out first if a home has been listed, what it’s current status is and see the detailed “behind the scene” information. Every time a client calls me about a home they saw for sale on Zillow, I always pull it up in my MLS first before discussing it so I know I have all the correct information.
Join my site at: www.JustinPSheets.com for free to search for homes in conjunction with your other on-line searches. Also, I now offer a great mobile app that allows you to search homes and contact me about them directly from the car. Click the links below to download.
(AS of the date of this new posting, Zillow and Truila are in discussion of merging)