So I received a call from a customer of mine all excited about a condo he wanted to see. Its a great condo. No problem there. Went to look at it. He loved it. Problem. Zillow reported a condo fee of $48 a month. In actuality it is almost $600 a month, putting it just outside what my customer can afford. So what do you need about Zillow, Trulia, etc…. ?
This week I have received 5 phone calls from potential buyers or customers that I am working with on the fringe. They were all interested in properties they found on Zillow or Trulia. The problem of them they were not for sale or had accepted offers. It creates a whole lot of work and misunderstanding for buyers.
A Little Test Comparing Zillow to the Massachusetts MLS
I decided to run a little comparison. I got onto Zillow and checked the condos for sale in Tewksbury MA. So first let me say this is where a lot of people go wrong and that is understanding the tool they are using. I knocked out all the pre-foreclosure and foreclosures that aren’t available for sale. Zillow showed 5 condos for sale. One was a duplicate so it showed 4 actual condominium units for sale in Tewksbury MA.
I then double checked it with the actual Massachusetts MLS. It showed there are currently 7 units available Zillow was not actually showing all the inventory that is available, only showing 57% of the units actually for sale.
Zillow only had a 57% accuracy of homes actually for sale!
What Do You Need to Know About Zillow and other Real Estate Aggregates?
- They pull there information from a variety of sources. How they pull their data is effects the accuracy and value of their information. They pull from tax records, other real estate sites, old listings of the home and some times from the MLS. The most reliable source is the MLS in your area. The information is current and verified by an agent and the owner.
- Many of the houses shown are not for sale. Many of the homes that they show are not even currently for sale or have been sold. They show homes that are in pre-foreclosure or have been foreclosed upon. That does not mean they are for sale. They show homes as available that have recently sold or been put under agreement. Yes, it is confusing, but some of it can be avoided by understanding the tool you are using.
- These sites are not altruistic because they are a third party site and they provide you with free information. They want to show as much data and homes as possible so you go there and you think they are the authority. What they are trying to do is capture the lions share of buyers and sellers that are out their by being the dominant site. So yes it is free to you, but they are making billions of dollars by selling real estate agents services to connect with you. Yep, I or other agents pay for every call or email you send about information on a home. It behooves them to capture you on the internet by any means possible.
- Learn how to use the site. This goes for any real estate tool. Most buyers don’t take the time to use it effectively. They waste a lot of time looking at properties that are not really available. Spend an hour or so learning how the site works. Even on my site when you are logged in you can find properties that are under agreement, pending or sold. It is just a matter of toggling a check box to shut it on or off.
- There is no one to help. Try to call Zillow. Try to even find a number for them. No one there is available to help the consumer.
So What is My Alternative for Zillow?
Just about every agent has access to a property website. Connect with a local agent. Their information pulls directly from the source, the local Multiple Listing Service. Its always free but you do need to log in and give basic information to get all of the property information. Here in Massachusetts it is governed by the MLS what I can show you with out logging in.
But, with that said, you have access to just about all the information I have, it is updated every 10-20 minutes. You can be aware of a new property or price change just as quickly as an agents. Some times it can take the national aggregates up to 72 hours to make a change. Here in my part of New England that home, will be gone before you even find it on Zillow!
Lastly, there is a live person who can help you effectively use the tool or get you any information or even show you the property behind that tool. So you can access Massachusetts Homes for Sale on my site. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me. This is a very powerful tool learn how to use it and it can save you time, money and aggravation.
This article, What you need to know about Zillow, Trulia, etc…, was provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate. I can be reached at 978-360-0422. If you are thinking of buying or selling a home a have valuable information and tools that can help save you time money and aggravation. Just give me a call.