Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z) is an online real estate company founded in 2006. The company operates as a real estate search engine that lists more than 110 million homes across the United States. It offers a value estimate, pictures and comparable prices for each of the homes listed on the site. Zillow is considered a media company that makes revenue off of its ad placements.
Trulia, Inc., similar to Zillow, is an online residential real estate website that connects home sellers with buyers, renters and real estate professionals in the U.S. With a business model similar to Zillow's, Trulia was acquired by Zillow in 2014 for $3.5 billion.
The resulting entity is considered the largest online real estate company that operates in the U.S. While an entity as large as Zillow Group provides its users with benefits at scale, it is also susceptible to stagnated innovation and a decline in features and benefits due to a lack of fierce, albeit imperfect, competition.
Many online real estate websites have cropped up to try to dethrone Zillow Group as an industry leader. The following are five companies that provide alternatives to Zillow and its subsidiary Trulia.
Redfin is a large online real estate company that seeks to redesign the way people buy homes. It offers several benefits that make it a viable alternative to Zillow and Trulia. First, the website is set up very similarly to Zillow and Trulia, where users can search for properties through a map-based function. After searching the site with a city or zip code, Redfin displays housing data, such as home value, home appreciation, square footage, year built and other data points a homebuyer might want to know. Also, users who are browsing for homes can favorite units for a side-by-side comparison.
Second, Redfin offers additional features that Zillow and Trulia do not. The company employs real estate agents who are rated by users of Redfin. The compensation of the real estate agents is directly correlated to the ratings they receive. To help homebuyers, the company also rebates part of the real estate commission back to the purchaser.
However, users should be aware that in some cities, Redfin does not disclose exact addresses if sellers prefer not to, and the site does not automatically provide home value data if the listing agent does not want it displayed. In other cities, Redfin automatically provides complete sales and listing data.
Finally, while the full data might not always be there, the company integrates with the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, and has homes listed within 15 minutes of the unit going into MLS.
Homesnap is an online real estate website that includes features such an intuitive map-based search function and a robust amount of property information. Much like Zillow and Trulia, its real estate browse function is easy to use.
What sets Homesnap apart from the competition, however, is its mobile app. It is possible to take a real-time picture of a house for sale with a mobile phone and have the app give all the necessary listing information about the property.
The mobile app even works on unlisted homes, apartments, and condos, giving users property value of the units. The app is available for both iPhone and Android users.
3. Neighborhood Scout
Neighborhood Scout provides users with information regarding neighborhoods in the U.S. All a user has to do to access the company's neighborhood information is search by city or specific address. Once the search criteria are entered, Neighborhood Scout provides average house values, local school information, demographic data, crime rates, traffic data and more. While most of the information is free for users, a subscription is needed for some of the more robust data. However, at $191.88 annually or $39.99 on a month-to-month plan, users are provided with detailed school reports, crime rates, and housing appreciation rates.
The information given to users through Neighborhood Scout's subscription service is not offered by either Zillow or Trulia, making Neighborhood Scout a viable alternative to either company.
Realtor.com is an online real estate website run by the National Association of Realtors. While the information is current, the site is more basic and does not have the robust features of Zillow, Trulia or the other companies on this list. However, it is connected to MLS with the most current listings on the market, and is a good place to start searching for a home. Once a home listing is found, a blended strategy can be used to search for that home on one of the three websites listed previously. This way, it is possible to be the most informed about a listing so a buyer can be the first to view the property on Redfin, Homesnap or Neighborhood Scout, and then contact the realtor quickly.
5. Home Value Websites
The previous four companies on the list are the top four alternatives to Zillow or Trulia. If a home valuation or unit price is all a person is after, there are a few websites that provide great alternatives to Zillow or Trulia's valuation services.
Real Estate ABC: This company is known to provide users with more accurate home values than Zillow and Trulia. Real Estate ABC gives users the ability to compare the prices of homes, and it even recommends homes in the surrounding neighborhoods that are truly comparable.
HomeGain: This company sets itself apart by offering market and census data, along with the home values it lists. It is known to provide accurate market data and home valuation data.
The Bottom Line
While Zillow and Trulia are popular real estate sites, there are a host of other online real estate and home valuation websites that can be used as excellent alternatives. Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you will likely make, so it's important to pull information from a variety of reputable sources. In addition to the above-mentioned sites, Investopedia also offers several guides and tools for buying and selling your home, including a mortgage calculator that can help you research mortgages once you've found your dream home.