According to recent statistics, 81% of people looking to buy a home start their search online. And far and away the most popular sites for that are Zillow and Trulia.
Whenever one of my clients mentions the Zestimate for a house they are interested in, I know it’s time for a talk. This is what I tell them.
Texas is a non-disclosure state. This means a listing price can be advertised far and wide, but it is illegal to publish what that property actually sold for. The final price can only be disclosed by a realtor in a comparative market analysis. So although Zillow and Trulia are national web sites, they cannot legally divulge this information here in Texas.
This creates very skewed and misleading numbers when it comes to Zestimates because the online suggestion of what a house is really worth is only based on the listing price – not what the property actually sold for.
Another problem with these sites is that the listing information is often old and outdated. This means that the house you fell in love with online may have sold months before you first saw it.
Zillow and Trulia are the Craig’s List of the online real estate world. Although they are helpful in some ways they are often used as bait for agents. Have you ever seen properties with prices that are just too good to be true – called the agent and then found out that the house was no longer available? Sometimes agents are on there simply to solicit new leads. I always tell people to look for an MLS Number on a Zillow or Trulia listing. In the Austin area this should be a seven digit number. If the property does not have the MLS number or it has more or less than seven digits, it could be a scam listing.
If you are searching for a home in the Austin area here are a few sites I recommend with reliable and updated information directly from the MLS:
I hope this has been helpful to you in your home search. Have you had good or bad luck with Trulia or Zillow? Add your comments below. Looking to buy or sell your home? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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