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Why You Shouldn’t Use Trulia and Zillow in Your Home Search

My colleague, Maureen Francis, sums up why you shouldn’t use Trulia or Zillow for your home search:

I know what you are thinking…

Your Realtor is hiding the really good homes from you.  Or you can find things that your Realtor can’t because you are more motivated.  Certainly there has to be more for sale out there, right?!?  So you head over to Zillow and Trulia where you unearth a bevvy of beauties that have never appeared on your agent’s daily or hourly updates. Gotcha!

I hate to debunk a good conspiracy theory, but the fact is that those “finds” you are tracking down on Zillow and Trulia are not actually for sale, in spite of the appearance that they are available. 

How could that be?  It’s simple.  Zillow and Trulia take information from sources that are not updated.  I know because I get calls all the time about homes that sold two years ago but buyers are still finding them on line.  Our local MLSes, Realcomp and MiRealSource are the two most accurate sources of current inventory.  Zillow and Trulia have access to those sources, but they also aggregate data from sites that are not updated with the same strict standards as the MLSes.  So mistakes slip through and remain to confuse buyers and sellers alike.

Furthermore, they include confusing listings from paid advertisers like RealtyTrac in their home searches.  RealtyTrac attempts to get consumers to pay for access to their paid services to search for potential without much transparency.  In truth, most of the homes we see listed on Realty Trac will never actually be available for consumers to purchase.  Just because a homeowner is in some stage of default, does not mean the home will be sold to the public at rock bottom prices.  The allure of paying $250,000 to snag a desirable new home worth $1,500,000 in Birmingham’s prestigious Quarton Lake Estates neighborhood baits consumers to pay RealtyTrac’s monthly subscription fee to gain access to the next great deal.  But they will never catch that deal, I assure you, because it really does not exist.

Your Realtor works on a commission.  Hiding the “good houses” will prevent her from making her livelihood.   Ask her how she can help you to access the best data sources available to you and what other services she can offer to help you find your next home.  And in the meantime, don’t be tempted by the “shiny objects” offered on Zillow or Trulia.  You are certain to be disappointed and frustrated.

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