If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve undoubtedly seen the rise of real estate sites aimed at educating real estate buyers and sellers. These sites amass large quantities of information from around the country, through various public record, MLS, and tax searches, in order to give you up to date information on the market you’re interested in. Makes sense when you think about it. One portal for loads of information with the ability to compare, contrast, and research all on one site. You’ve seen these sites to be sure, including to some degree homegain.com, trulia.com, homethinking.com, and the mother of all,, zillow.com. While the sites vary on their focus, they all try to educate the public on everything from rating agents, to valuing real estate.
Some people may find these sites useful, and by the sheer numbers of registered users, it seems many people do enjoy them. I wonder though, how useful the information is, moreover, how accurate, how up to date, and how detailed. How many purchase or sell decisions have been made using this information?
I recently searched for newly listed homes on trulia.com. The most recent Lake Geneva listing added to that particular site was in fact entered into my MLS system exactly 9 days prior to it hitting trulia. Many times I personally send out emails containing new listings within minutes of that listing appearing on the MLS. A recent zestimate on zillow revealed a property that I would value in the $900k range, was in fact only worth $600k. Pretty large spread there.
An agent inquiry at homethinking.com showed that I typically sell 2 bedroom homes priced around $488k. What?? Of the current listings they say I have, three have been off of the open market for more than 4 months!! This information is so far from reality that I wonder how many consumers may be digesting and formulating market and valuation opinions from this aggressively old information.
Perhaps as consumers realize how easy it is to get up to date, accurate, and opinionated information delivered from their Realtor, these sites will lose appeal and fall by the wayside. Then again, the introduction of these sites into the consumer driven internet, may be an indictment on the real estate profession. Perhaps agents aren’t doing a very good job educating their clients after all. Pit me against zillow, trulia, and homethinking, and I promise you’ll appreciate the difference.