Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Trulia & Zillow & You


The real estate consumer is becoming more and more web savvy (otherwise you wouldn't be reading a real estate blog, now would you?), and two of the more popular sites are Trulia.com and Zillow.com. What are they and how can they be of use to you? Or, are they of no use at all?

Both sites collect and analyze real estate information in many different urban metropolitan centers, including the Bay Area. Both sites offer current listings, data on recent sales, and valuations on properties. Trulia tends to have more of an emphasis on current listings and includes a nice interactive Q&A function called "Trulia Voices." And, Zillow seems to have the edge in providing valuation information.

I recently read that 85% of real estate consumer begin their journey with web searches. Are these two sites the best place to start? I think they are a fine place to start in order to get a snapshot of the market, but I highly encourage you to work with a realtor for your transaction.

Both sites have an incomplete inventory of homes for sale, mostly including just those from the chain brokerages and those actively submitted by agents. You are better off using a more complete site like Realtor.com. And, working with a realtor will help you find the gems in the neighborhood or to best market your home.

As for valuations, the sites use algorithms and applications that lack human eye and intellect. The comparables they include are not very realistic, sometimes comparing small 2 bedroom condos to large 2 bedroom single family homes in the same neighborhood. The value of a home is truly determined by the buyer and the seller negotiating in the free market. If the buyer makes an offer and the seller accepts it, then that is the value. If a home is listed too high, especially in this changing market, no one will buy it. And that means the list price is not that house's value.

So, Trulia and Zillow are fine for market pictures and to do basic research--even I look at them sometimes. But for real guidance in the real estate world, rely on a realtor with expertise in your neighborhood. If you need expertise and guidance in Berkeley, Oakland or other East Bay neighborhoods, let me know. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or MSmartt@jps.net

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For Sale By Owner said...
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