Buyer Beware: Misconceptions About Trulia & Zillow

In separate recent articles at blog and the New York Times blog, Zillow and Trulia were discussed. In the article interviewing Zillow’s CEO, Spencer Raskoff, and the current desire of Zillow to work with agents was contrasted with the company’s stated objective when it opened. Then the goal was to give consumers an alternative to working with real estate agents.

Apparently that business model isn’t generating the desired profit level, and there’s now a greater focus on getting more agents to work with Zillow and pay for advertising there. Keep in mind that Zillow and Trulia are ADVERTISING FIRMS not REAL ESTATE AGENCIES.  Zillow charges agents for exposure next to listings in their market areas. One expectation is that more agents with closer cooperation will improve the timeliness and accuracy of Zillow’s data; unfortunately Zillow’s data is very inefficient and inaccurate.

On that data accuracy note, we get to Zillow and Trulia ourselves and looked at the accuracy compared to our local MLS and man oh man were there many many mistakes in the reporting. The results showed that:

100% of current listings were present on Redfin and our Murney .com site.

Trulia only had had 81 percent of listings and many did not have the correct pictures or information.

Zillow had 79 percent of listings and their appraisal value was WAY off base for our market.

36% of Zillow listings were shown active but were no longer for sale.

The same was true for 37% of Trulia listings.

Sure, there’s bias on the part of Redfin in underwriting this study, but the results clearly show that the local MLS data, available to Redfin and Murney Associates but not to Zillow and Trulia, is far superior in accuracy and timeliness. So, why aren’t we as real estate professionals educating the consumer to that fact, strongly marketing it, and bringing those searchers to instead of the big websites that are so wrong?

And, we’re not going to leave out of this discussion. An article on a TV station site in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area discusses Edina Realty’s decision to remove thousands of listings from due to stated inaccuracies and other problems. Other local and regional MLSs have done the same., using the Realtor logo but no longer owned by NAR, charges agents and brokerages for advertising next to listings also. Edina stated that one problem was agent ads showing up next to listings not in their area or not for sale.

Sure as agents we want to talk to anyone who we get off of these sites but when the data is incorrect or the home is already Sold, Under Contract, Withdrawn or Expired it makes us as agents look unknowledgeable in our market. The general public needs to understand that pulls a feed on all properties twice a day and the Zillow and Trulia pull once a week. Trust your local Murney Agent to have the stats and comparable for you in selling and buying your home.

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