As the U.S. real estate market is slowly starting to gather some steam again, real estate portals like Redfin, Trulia and Zillow are again competing as important tools for prospective buyers who want to get an edge in competitive markets. According to a new study commissioned by real estate portal Redfin and real estate company Windermere, the quality of the listings on these different sites isn’t always up to par. According to this study, which looked at 11 major U.S. cities, Redfin and Windermere.com feature about 20 percent more listings than Zillow and Trulia and almost two out of five listings on those two sites are no longer for sale.
According to this study, broker sites tend to list houses seven to nine days before they appear on Zillow and Trulia and also record the sales of these houses long before these portals update their listings. Redfin comes out on top in this study, as only 0.1 percent of the houses in its database were already sold, compared to 37 percent on Trulia and 36 percent on Zillow.
Given that this study was sponsored by Redfin, those results shouldn’t be a surprise, but the company says its study was conducted by an “independent real estate technology consulting firm.”
Update: Zillow just sent us the following statement in response to Redfin’s study: “There is no gold standard for listings data, so comparing Zillow’s MLS-only listings to an MLS isn’t going to give you the whole picture. For example, Zillow has hundreds of thousands of for-sale-by-owner, new construction and foreclosure listings, which often aren’t listed on an MLS. In addition to these listings, home shoppers visit Zillow for deep information on all homes, Zestimates, price cuts, communities, rental listings and historical home information, all of which typically can’t be found on a brokerage site. More than 36 million users came to Zillow’s site and mobile apps to research homes in August.”
Why does all of this matter? According to the latest data, the number of houses on the market today is down 29 percent since last year and, says Redfin, “you can’t afford to miss 20 percent of the listings” when there are already fewer homes on the market just as the number of buyers has finally started to pick up again.
The real estate market (which, by the way, could still use a good amount of disruption), is still mostly dominated by regional multiple listing services. Redfin, which operates in about a third of the U.S., is a full-blown online real estate brokerage with real estate agents and not “just” a portal, so it has access to these listings. Trulia, Zillow and its competitors have to get listings by asking the agents and their brokerages to post listings to their sites.