Zillow or Trulia?

The truth is in here somewhere.

According to Trulia.com I have 472 listings. If you check on Zillow (They own Trulia by the way) I have 18 listings. If you were to check on our local MLS you would see 15 listings.  What’s going on here?

A “listing” for the purposes of this discussion, is a home or property that I am offering for sale or rent for myself or another party in my role as a licensed real estate broker. For the record I do NOT have 472 homes listed, nor do I have just 15 or 18.

Zillow and Trulia are unreliable sources to determine which homes are actually for sale. For real estate brokers these consolidators of real estate listings are popular to the public but a pain in the neck to us. My latest example was a call I received last  Friday from another agent. HIS customer found one of “my listings” on Trulia. I was listed as the listing agent on this $500,000++ home in Cape Coral. IT, however,  was NOT my listing. I knew nothing about the home.  But indeed  my name is on Trulia as the listing agent.  I promised an answer to the agent within ten minutes, then I started my research. I immediately checked county records and found the last time that particular house in Cape Coral was sold was in 2007. I had never had the listing in the past (I suspected that maybe that was the issue so I check my own software that posts listings) The agent that called me has a buyer that thinks either his agent or I are doing something shady, and the HOME OWNER wants an answer and thinks I have listed his home  without his permission.  By the way the issue is still not resolved as there was no human available from Friday afternoon to now. It was when I went to confirm what Trulia said was my listing that I saw they had 462 listed homes and lots in my name  (they added ten more since Friday).  

The above is an extreme example of why agents and brokers are frustrated with these services, and you  as a consumer should be too.

Here are some other things you may not know:

The values that are reported by Zillow  and Trulia, while getting better over time, ignore things like view,  (the same home off  and on the water or golf course may be given the same value). It’s funny, but homeowners will think that Zillow is correct if the number is high for their own home. The only way to get a good idea of what your house will sell for is to get a very good agent that will actually look at all your competition and get you a full summary report and BPO.

The Listing Status is often misrepresented.  Active, Pending. Withdrawn, Terminated, and Sold are all the possible statuses that are reported to your broker. The consolidators like Trulia and Zillow do not have that info.  So you call about a home that is already sold or under contract or indeed not even on the market.

They sell information back to agents the very agents that provide the info to them.   And they don’t just sell it to the agent that has the listing they sell it to the highest bidder. You know those agents pictures you see next to the listing?  Other than the listing agent the rest of them pay to be there. That does not mean you are getting an agent that KNOWS that market but one who pays them the most.

The list price and the AVM may be different.    Since the AVM  (Automated Valuation Model) ignores things like water access, and view, and indeed interior upgrades, an agent may list a home that has a premium location for say, $259,000,  and right next to it Zillow will say it is only worth $200,000. Kinda creates a marketing nightmare.


So what should you do?  If you are looking for a home in a certain area, get a referral to an agent that KNOWS the area, then use his or her website or seek their advice on how to search. (I have two that are pretty good:www.todaysbesthomes.com and www.marketamericarealty.com .   Trying to save money by not using a good agent can be a huge mistake.   From behind the scenes "feet on the street” search advice; to negotiating and  navigating the sales process; a good agent is invaluable.  Oh, and please choose a full time active agent, not your hairdressers brother-in-law.  

I have offed this to you before: I belong to a group of elite, successful agents, and I will hire your listing agent for you in your home town, make him accountable, and manage your expectations and success. Of course if you are looking here in Lee County, contact me unless you are already represented.

Don’t believe what you read on the internet.  The truth is in there somewhere, and perhaps I can help you find it. (By the way  - How may listings do I have? Well I only put a few of the condos I offer at www.taylorbays and www.capecaves.com on the MLS at the request of the developer ( since all of them identical).  I do not put my commercial offerings on the MLS but I put them on Loopnet – so my actual number of listings is about 128.)