Starting Your Search Online
The biggest misconception in the online search world is that Zillow and Trulia are the same as the Realtor Multiple Listing Service (MLS). While there are parallels, the MLS provides the most accurate picture of what homes are for sale and at what price. It is the database Realtors use and it updates in real time.
Most importantly, the information on the MLS is protected by rules and regulations that include fines and suspension for non-compliance.
Zillow and Trulia struggle with accuracy since they are not MLS. They often experience a delays in showing new ‘for sale’ properties (or not removing the ones that have sold) and they allow for paid results.
Zillow and Trulia have no such regulations and thus contain errors and omissions, many of which are intentional in order to get you to call.
What You Are Seeing
Because they draw their data from a myriad of sources, not all of which are reliable, Zillow and Trulia often display false information or exhibit a delay (sometimes days) between when a property is listed in MLS to when it becomes visible on their site. And when homes are going quickly, sometimes just a few hours can make all the difference.
Some key differences to note:
|MLS||Trulia / Zillow / Realtor.com|
|Status of Properties Displayed||Active, Pending, Sold, Leased||Active|
|Tax Record Access||Yes||No|
|New Listing Notification||Immediate||Delayed|
|Removal of Old Listings||Immediate||Inconsistent|
|Data Accuracy Enforcement||MLS Rules and Fines||None|
|Search Results||Without Bias||Paid Results|
|Number of Available Homes||At least 95% of all homes for sale||Only 80%-90% of all homes for sale|
|Advertisements||Sponsorships Only||Constant Ads|
* Most studies show that Zillow and Trulia display fewer listings than Realtor.com. Realtor.com has fewer listings than MLS.
The Client Portal/MLS Direct Link
So how do you get access to MLS? It is called a Client Portal.
A Client Portal can only be set up by a Realtor®, is free to use, and shows you the most homes for sale, the most information about those homes, and the most accurate and up-to-date information available.
To make any serious decision, the Client Portal is best…
The Client Portal is also a great communication link between buyer and agent. Notes can be kept, showings scheduled, and search parameters modified during the search. And remember, all of this occurs in real time.
Zillow and Trulia have their place if you want to window shop or get a feel for what you might be looking for, but to make any serious decision, the Client Portal is best.