R.E. Website Searches and What they Tell you

R.E. Website Searches and What they Tell you

Our world has become so online-oriented, we’re doing a great many things online that we used to do on paper or other media. Real estate investors are no exception. They are doing a tremendous amount of research online. There are a number of very popular and large real estate listing display sites, with Trulia.com, Zillow.com and Realtor.com as examples. They are national in marketing, and they advertise that they have real estate listings for sale in thousands of markets around the country.

In comparing online property for sale research sites, we need to understand where they get their listing data. Is it accurate, up-to-date, or are there properties displayed that sold months ago or are no longer on the market for other reasons? And what about those sites that publish “estimates” of market value? How are those calculated and are they accurate?

Real estate brokerage experts were consulted and here are some of their observations of the current state of real estate for sale listings on the Web:

Only Realtor.com gets listing data uploaded from local real estate Multiple Listing Services, making this data the most up-to-date and accurate.
However, Realtor.com doesn’t get all local MLS listings, as some of them have opted out of the data feed. Also, only around half of the real estate brokers in the country are “Realtors” and in an MLS that feeds the data.
Zillow.com and Trulia.com do not get these data feeds and must rely on listings being entered by real estate agents or on feeds from “syndication” services. When a real estate agent places listing details with a syndication service, they are automatically uploaded to these sites.
One survey showed that as many as 30% of listings on these sites were no longer for sale, having been pulled from the market or sold sometimes months in the past. The agents have no real incentive to make sure they are removed.
Value estimates can come from unreliable computer valuation models or information on record at courthouses that is not necessarily accurate.
For the real estate investor, the most reliable and up-to-date listing search database will by through a local agent or broker site using the IDX (Internet Data Exchange) service. This is an agreement between MLS members allowing other members to show all listings on their sites. These listings are updated daily.DClark