People often ask me if, as a Real Estate Agent, I find sites like Zillow/Trulia threatening. The thought seems to be that if people can find a home they want on Zillow, why do they need a real estate agent? My answer is short - No. Zillow is great for what it is, a huge database of homes that are available to purchase or to rent, that is consumer friendly and easy to use. Consumers jump on, put in some criteria, and BAM! Zillow spits out a bunch of homes that meet their requirements, and the house hunt begins. It really is a great tool for our "do it yourself" technology driven nation, with only one not-so-small disadvantage - it is often wrong.
The data on Zillow/Trulia and other consumer driven sites - the data YOU, the consumer receives - is often old. Take as case in point a call that we received this week from some potential buyers who found a home on Zillow that they were very interested in. The home happened to be located in West Mesa Estates, which is a neighborhood Foster Beckman Group specializes in. The buyers were only in town for the rest of the day, so they asked if I could take them over to see the property right away. I said sure, and asked them for the the address. I pulled up MLS and saw that the address they had given me did not have an active listing, but the house next door was active, so I drove over to the neighborhood to meet them and discuss what was available.
When I got there, they were standing in the driveway looking at the house that was no longer on the market. I let them know that, unfortunately, the house was no longer available, but the one next door was. They were clearly confused and said, very adamantly, "But we just saw it on Zillow!" The fact is, the house had sold and closed almost a month earlier and closed over a week earlier, but Zillow just hadn't quite caught up yet. This is more the norm than the exception! The ONLY real-time, accurate source for real estate data is the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) that is available to professional real estate agents. When it comes to buying your new home, only a professional REALTOR can get you the most current pricing, listing and status information.
Another issue with Zillow, especially in a market like Las Vegas, is that their "Zestimates" of a home's value are often very, very off base. Again, this is usually due to the database being unable to keep up in "real time" with what is happening in the market, so houses can show up in the "Zestimate" as much higher, or substantially lower, than the current market value. Again, a professional Agent can give you a real-time, accurate market analysis and comparables to help you make the right pricing decision, whether you are buying or selling.
So what is a savvy home buyer to do? By all means, go ahead and check Zillow out. Research neighborhoods, schools, and the types of homes available. But when it comes time to actually look for a home - YOUR new home - contact a REALTOR, who has instant access to real-time data and knows and understands the current market trends and conditions for the neighborhood you want to call home.
The Foster Beckman Group would love to help you find your new home. We work closely with all of our home buyers to help you find the right home at the best price for the least amount of stress! Call us today at 702.686.2695.