(and Trulia) Spoiler Alert: It’s mostly hate but that’s okay.
Zillow (who also owns Trulia) is one of the most widely-used online real estate resources that people use when they are interested in buying or selling a home. But even though everyone’s using it, that doesn’t make it the best resource. Yes, it is a powerful tool and a great place to start browsing if you are remotely curious as a buyer or seller. However, everything has its pros and cons, and Zillow’s cons definitely outweigh its pros.
For BUYERS on Zillow… (stay tuned for seller Zillow review)
- It looks pretty and it’s easy to use. Plain and simple.
- There are sellers who throw their homes up on Zillow as “For Sale By Owner.” So you may be able to find off market deals if you are willing to take the risk of going unrepresented by a Realtor. Obviously, this is not advisable and we hope you don’t get involved in a lawsuit. Just kidding (but not really… Seriously, use a Realtor).
- Zillow does not sync with the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS (in Sacramento). This poses a huge problem because:
- Not all agents are on Zillow. You may miss out on a new listing if the agent doesn’t manually post it to the site.
- Zillow is not regulated like the MLS. Realtors have strict rules about updating their listings’ status in MLS. You may be wasting your time browsing pending or sold listings on Zillow if an agent “forgets” to change the status.
- The “contact agent” section is deceiving. Agents pay a lot of money to advertise on Zillow and be that first person in the “contact agent” section. You may think you are contacting the listing agent, but in reality, it could be some random agent who has never seen the house before. FYI – the actual listing agent’s contact info is in a small font at the very bottom of the page.
- Open house info doesn’t sync. Agents also have to manually input open house information, so if they forget, you might miss out!
(Of course, good agents ARE on Zillow and update the site as they would the MLS, but not all agents do!)
Your Best Bet:
- Contact your Realtor to be put directly on the MLS auto-prospector and client portal. This will give you direct access to the source. It doesn’t look as pretty as Zillow, but you get the same (if not more accurate) information in real time. Your Realtor can see which homes you save and reject, so they can get a good idea of what you’re looking for (and maybe recommend a pocket listing if they have one!).
- If you don’t want human interaction, use Realtor.com. This website syncs with the MLS and makes it a little clearer who the listing agent is. Although, the “contact agent” section works similarly to Zillow (agents pay money to advertise on Realtor.com, too). But, at least you can count on this website to have up-to-date status information.