ZillowI received a call from one of my home buyers who found a property on Zillow that they were really excited about and they wanted to go see. My first thought was great, give me the address and I’ll set up a showing. It seemed like the perfect fit for them and I was surprised that it had not come up on my radar of possible homes.

However, soon after researching the address I discovered that it had actually been sold several months ago and although it still showed as being for sale on Zillow, the reality was that it was no longer available for sale. I even went so far as to contact the new owners and they told me they had no intention of selling right now and they were in fact upset that information and pictures of their new home were still published online.

Sites like Zillow and Trulia are great for promoting properties nationwide. They have a huge Google impact but they are not always accurate in their information.

How did this happen?

truliaBoth of these online real estate giants depend 100% on the information that is being fed to them. They depend completely on what individual realtors and associations provide. They exist because individual home buyers and sellers want to see their property on these sites and they expect their local realtor to do that.

In order to be competitive in the market and to give your home as much exposure as possible then it’s required that your home is listed on these sites. However, it is the local realtor that updates the information on these sites, at least in our local Bryan / College Station area.

It’s also the responsibility of the local Realtor to keep the information updated. That means changing asking price, photographs, listing data and whether the property is still for sale or not, it’s all up to the one individual listing your property for sale. That’s where the problem is.

We as Realtors are controlled by our local Real Estate Association and the rules and guidelines for use of the Multiple Listing Service. Sites like Zillow and Trulia don’t have such rules. If an agent listing your property for sale puts that information on either of these sites, there is no direct legal or ethical requirement for them to remove it from the site once the property is sold, except those enforced by the National Association of Realtor (NAR) and the local Multiple Listing Service. With so many properties being advertised on both those sites, it’s virtually impossible for NAR to be able to monitor them all.

Yes, Real Estate Brokers have a role in this too but not all Brokers do the follow-up.

What does all this mean?

CR imageIn a nutshell it means that the information provided on sites like Zillow and Trulia cannot be guaranteed as accurate. It means that buyers looking for homes for sale in the Bryan / College Station area, or to be honest even nationwide, are not always being provided with accurate current data regarding the property.

The property you’re looking at could have been sold, the price could have been reduced, the pictures could have been updated and the condition could have been changed. All in all unless the individual realtor who has first listed the property on either of those sites, makes a conscious decision to make the necessary changes to that listing, then no one viewing it will know the difference.

Also keep in mind that sites like Zillow and Trulia provide snapshots of information regarding home values, market areas and housing conditions for almost every region and city in the country.

I am quite sure that, not one of the representatives of either Zillow or Trulia have ever set foot in Bryan / College Station. They personally have no idea of the amazing dynamics that this community provides. Instead they place all their values on national algorithms.

We as a community are above the national standard. When the rest of the nation saw depression and economic loss, we saw growth. When the rest of the nation had depressed housing markets, we saw stability and new infrastructure.

Bryan / College Station can’t be wrapped up in sites like Zillow and Trulia. Yes they provide us with a national audience but only your local Realtor can give you the true facts.

The bottom line is….

If you are looking to buy or sell your home in Bryan / College Station, then yes by all means utilize Zillow or Trulia but know that only your local realtor, the one that drives down University Drive and sees all the development or the one that is knowledgeable about local communities and whether the asking price really represents the local market, is the only one that can bring you the best properties at the best price.

All homes for sale buttonNo national sites like Zillow or Trulia can provide that. Only your local realtor can tell you about the growth and prospects for our cities, it’s only your local representatives that can honestly tell you what’s happening.