I tell people – clients and other agents alike – that the internet is where it is! Not just for funny cat memes or intriguing food prep videos, but for real estate too. Now…I’m not saying anything groundbreaking when I say that home buyers hit the internet when searching for a home, in most cases before even contacting an agent. To dot that “I” and cross that “T” though, just how many buyers? 96% of home buyers will go to sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com when starting, and during, their home search.
These sites offer a lot of different tools to showcase neighborhood trends, map “zone” perks, historical comparisons, zip code searches, school rankings, and more! All of these are very useful when you’re trying to pick where to even look for much less buy a house, which is how a majority of America measures its personal wealth.
These sites also take on a social network feel allowing you to save favorites, share with your friends, etc. In today’s age where everyone wants to know what each other is doing – and they want to know it NOW! – this is an excellent feature.
For buyers and sellers, these sites even offer home estimate tools (a la “Zesitmate”) that give them the opportunity to see what their house is worth, or what they can expect to pay in a specific neighborhood they are searching in. All of these tools prove to be immensely helpful and put at anyone’s fingertips the means to control a situation that can be one of the most daunting (and rewarding!) processes in a person’s life!
While these tools are helpful, there are some pitfalls that I’ve encountered as an agent who’s been doing this for more years than I care to divulge… Because these apps are designed to be social, sexy, and streamlined, they give a false sense of encouragement. “Finding a new home is just a click away!” or you can have Elizabeth Banks hype you up in your very own home search commercial! (Check it out below) And while these mediums offer some great resources and references, they do not, however, turn you into the “Arbiter of Accuracy” or the “Emperor or Escrow”…
The best resource any home buyer or seller can lean on is a good agent with years of experience and knowledge in the area. Zillow may offer their Zestimate, but an agent can give you what true comparable listings have sold for. Similarly, I have personally found that sometimes information on these sites isn’t as 100% accurate as it may seem. Listings that should be there aren’t, most recent transaction information isn’t as “most recent”. Like with any technology there are errors. In the end the best way to get the most accurate and best help when buying or selling real estate, nothing beats an agent!