Whether you’re using a desktop or mobile phone, there are three major portals to help you shop for a new home: realtor.com, zillow.com, and trulia.com. As the technology advances, these apps and websites start to offer many of the same features, like maps, school ratings, market trends, and even tips for listing your own home for sale. So what sets these sites apart? Their approach to the market.
If you’re looking in a competitive market, Realtor.com offers up-to-date intel that can’t be beat. Whether you’re browsing the app or the website, you’ll see right away if a listing is pending sale. This can help you decide whether you want to rush to make a competing offer or move on. You can contact the agent directly for more information or to schedule a listing, and even “favorite” the listing so it’s easy to find it when you return to the site or app.
Zillow and Trulia (below) are similar to realtor.com in their search options, but Zillow positions itself differently. According to the site, “Zillow serves the full lifecycle of owning and living in a home: buying, selling, renting, financing, remodeling, and more.” Basically, using Zillow can help you gain further insight into your neighborhood in terms of costs for both buying or renting. Zillow’s “Zestimates” are not true property appraisals (basically, take them with a grain of salt) but they can offer an educated guesstimate of a home’s value based on the property’s historical sales and current local market values, which might help you determine whether or not you want to list your home for sale.
Until they were purchased by Zillow, Trulia was Zillow’s biggest competitor. Trulia has more sophisticated mapping, including street view, crime, and school overlays. Trulia also introduced a sort of bundling approach, by showing homes in safe communities or even allowing you to search for features like hardwood floors or remodeled kitchens.
Each of these apps varies only slightly, but when used together they can provide a more comprehensive online shopping experience for the would-be homebuyer. The housing market can be pretty competitive, after all. And while nothing beats actually walking through a home to experience it IRL, browsing through a listing’s pictures can make your on-foot search more meaningful and efficient.