The internet has changed the way we do just about everything—including something as major as buying a home. Working directly with a real estate agent and visiting a number of properties in person is still a fairly common practice. But more people than ever are using websites and apps to do the majority of their house hunting.
Two of the biggest real estate websites and apps you'll find right now are Realtor.com® and Zillow. The question is—which one is more likely to help you find the right property while getting you the best deal?
Buying a home should be an enjoyable experience, but it can also be an overwhelming one. A house is one of the biggest purchases most of us will ever make, and choosing the right property for you and your family is a huge decision. Not to mention the commitment to a 30-year mortgage payment!
In a seller's market, there's also the added pressure of having to move quickly. When interest rates are low and the available inventory is scarce—which is currently the case in a number of real estate markets—properties don't last very long. They also tend to sell for top dollar.
There are currently a lot of people looking at real estate, and homes can be on the market for less than 24 hours before they go under contract. This means that you need the best tools available when you are ready to buy.
Realtor.com is a website and app that offers a comprehensive list of for-sale properties in your area, while also giving you the information and tools you need to make informed real estate decisions. Simply put, Realtor.com is "The Home of Home Search."
The site is free and easy to use and will have your search results ready in just a matter of seconds. All you have to do is enter the zip code where you are looking to purchase real estate and Realtor.com will give you a real-time list of what is available in your area.
To narrow things down, you can filter the results based on the asking price, number of bedrooms, lot size, home size, and property type.
When you click on a home that you're interested in, Realtor.com gives you a ton of information about the property. Most listings include a number of pictures, the asking price, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, lot size, and the address.
As you get into the listing details, you'll see how long the property has been listed on the site, and you'll get a property summary. This is where you'll find information about any updates made, like new flooring, new roof, or new HVAC.
Listings on Realtor.com can also include information about the neighborhood, schools, property history, and nearby home values. You also have the option of contacting the listing agent and scheduling a tour.
Realtor.com mostly focuses on connecting realtors with buyers, but it's also a rich data source for house hunters. What sets Realtor.com apart from its competition is that it works with agents who belong to the National Association of Realtors. They are the only ones who can use the trademarked realtor moniker.
The site is also updated every hour and is directly linked to the MLS, Multiple Listing Services. This is what really gives Realtor.com an advantage. The MLS databases stream information on local properties directly to Realtor.com, which allows the site to have "the most up-to-date and accurate" listings.
Zillow burst onto the market way back in 2006 and quickly became number one in the world of home search sites. Zillow became one of the most-used real estate resources on the web because it's made for mobile devices and also has a massive social platform.
Like Realtor.com, Zillow offers house-by-house sales prices and payment estimates. Prospective homebuyers can also filter their property searches by price, agent, house features, open houses, and other criteria.
Zillow receives its property info from a variety of sources, including major national brands such as Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and Sotheby's. They also work with real estate boards in some markets. But, without a direct link to MLS, the information isn't necessarily up-to-date.
One thing that makes Zillow different from Realtor.com is that the site also includes For Sale By Owner listings, as well as foreclosures and auctions. It doesn't require agents to be members of the National Association of Realtors to use the platform. This means that Zillow will have more listings in total. But there's no guarantee the info is up-to-date.
Zillow also has a feature called "Zestimates" which is a home price estimate generated by a proprietary algorithm. Unfortunately, the price has nothing to do with an actual appraisal of the property, which can be very misleading.
The one thing that Zillow does really well is that it's made for mobile devices and can be easily synced. You can save your searches and mark a property you're interested in as a "favorite." When there are any updates or changes, you'll get a notification.
Like Realtor.com, Zillow can be helpful with your home search. But, in a hot seller's market, the outdated information can end up making your house hunt more difficult.
Buying a home is a huge decision, and you must have the best tools and resources to find the right property for you and your family. Both Zillow and Realtor.com feature a number of property listings and tons of information. But, thanks to its direct link to MLS with real-time, up-to-date data, we believe Realtor.com is the best online tool you'll find when it's time to purchase a home.
No matter which home search engine you choose, it's always a good idea to compare the information and results. Consulting with a local agent who knows your area's housing market is also a smart move.