With the recent announcement that real estate mega-site Zillow.com has come to an agreement to purchase its largest competitor, Trulia.com, we will see the two largest real estate websites combine to dominate market share for real estate search portals. These two portals revolutionized the real estate industry by providing unprecedented data including local market statistics, property history, crime statistics, school ratings, and more. The early indication from Zillow is that both sites will continue to operate independently while pooling resources and collaborating on future technology.
Although technology and the web have disrupted every industry throughout the past couple of decades, the real estate industry has been slow to react – even reluctant at times – to the evolving expectations of the consumer. In a world where you can research and shop for any product online, Zillow.com and Trulia.com recognized the industry’s broker-centric approach to real estate search and built a platform focused on the needs of the consumer. Today, these two sites account for about 25% of all real estate traffic, with the next closest competitor, Realtor.com, averaging closer to 7%.
While these sites dominate real estate traffic nationwide, they are not without their issues. Depending on your market, the listing data accuracy can be quite suspect – sold and under contract properties listed as for sale, for sale properties being listed as for rent, and automated valuation models (i.e. Zillow’s Zestimate) can misrepresent the projected market value of a home. If you are looking for 100% accurate listing data you will need to search a website with direct feed to the local MLS. Wright Kingdom’s website (wkre.com) receives a direct feed from IRES (Northern Colorado’s MLS) and Metrolist (Denver area MLS) and is updated every 15 minutes. The other issue with these sites is that the “Premier” agents that appear next to the listings pay to advertise there and are not necessarily experts on that particular property or neighborhood which can potentially lead to a less than desirable customer experience.
There is no doubt value to the resources, usability, and entertainment that both of these sites provide. But at the end of the day, they are no replacement for an experienced Realtor in regards to determining your home’s value or helping you find a property that fits your needs. When considering an investment as sizable as purchasing a home, would you trust an algorithm with unreliable data or would you trust a professional whose livelihood depends on getting the best deal for their client?