Back in January of 2015 Zillow spent 3.5 billion dollars and bought out Trulia, though instead of overhauling their competitor, they have decided to maintain separate identities while working together to achieve larger real estate advertisement goals.
For most modern-day home buyers, actively or even casually in the market looking for a house, they will turn to the comfort of their computer at home or even on their mobile device while out and about. It is just so much more convenient to have the information on hand than it is to call up a real estate agent and request the information. Typically what sites do they turn too? Zillow and Trulia are the most popular public access real estate information platforms on the internet today. Zillow gives a rough estimate on the price of houses currently on the market, while Trulia offers information on the location of the home, the neighborhood, various draw-ins around the neighborhood, and even provides readily accessible information for mortgage brokers.
How does this affect homebuyers?
For home buyers this is a dream. House shopping becomes painless, quick, and convenient. You can easily bring up houses side-by-side and compare traits that you would find most favorable when making that very important decision of buying (or even selling!) a home.
How does this affect Realtors?
Realtors are no longer turned to as the gurus of knowledge for obtaining information on all houses provided for by the real estate market. Though that does not mean that we have been replaced! The most important job a Realtor can take on is being there in person with buyers and sellers, and guiding them through the experience. A LOT of paperwork goes into buying and selling houses now days, and it is a Realtor’s job to walk you through the steps and help guide you, while making sure that you are well informed of anything and everything that is known about the property. Instead of being the gatekeepers of information on the real estate market they are now more like guard dogs. It won’t be Zillow who maintains copies of counter-offers and addendums, tracks dates, and informs you of deadlines which may risk your earnest money (Nor do I foresee Zillow coming out to a home inspection and/or radon text. But who knows!). One thing that Zillow provides, which is beneficial to Realtors, is that it maintains a database of information on houses that extend nationwide. So real estate agents no longer have to maintain an area of expertise (unless they want too of course) and can participate in transactions as far out (within their state) as they are willing to drive. This is beneficial to those who are active in social media sites and like to maintain a referral network.
For selling agents Zillow and Trulia make advertising your listing a breeze, but only for those surfing the internet. Though it is nice to have easy-access internet advertising, if you wish to stand out from other listings, which have the same publicity on Zillow/Trulia, you will need to continue working those open houses!
As a side note: no matter what information Zillow or Trulia finds on a property. It will inevitably still be the listing agent who will be the most knowledgeable about specific details.
How does Zillow get its prices?
Zillow uses an algorithm known as The Zestimate. Like the very function of its name, it is an estimate and NOT an appraisal (estimates are not used legally to determine the actual value of the house). The Zillow Zestimate uses information on the property such as previous prices the home was bought and sold by, as well as houses in the neighborhood that are of similar price value. The Zestimate does NOT take into account subjective desires like: views, shops, RV parking, gardens, real wood floors, stained glass, finished and furnished basements (which are just a few of the things not considered, to give you an idea. Zillow only looks at prices and price history). Zillow’s Zestimate aims at giving you an idea of where to start when pricing a home. Some Zestimates are going to be more accurate than others depending on the activity of the neighborhood in the real estate market. In essence: if a Zestimate is too low it could be because Zillow is not taking into account a completely new kitchen renovation, as well as any other amenities that may make the house more desirable than houses surrounding the property.
What can I expect to see now that Zillow and Trulia have joined forces?
A mass information abundance! Which is a good thing for buyers, sellers, and Realtors! Providing easy access for information on houses while you are already browsing your social media sites, or surfing the internet.