Zillow Group, Inc. is a popular online real estate company founded in 2006. Zillow operates as a real estate search engine that lists more than 110 million homes across the United States. It also offers a value estimate known as the Zestimate, along with comparables for each of the homes listed on the site. Many analysts consider Zillow to be a media company that makes its money from its ad placements.
- Zillow Group, which includes Zillow and Trulia, is the biggest online real estate company in the United States.
- You can use online real estate websites to list your home or shop for your next one.
- Many online real estate websites use information from databases of properties shared by agents and brokers for their own online portals.
- Housing discrimination online or in-person is illegal.
- Use several real estate websites to cull information to search for a new home.
The Merger of Zillow and Trulia
Like Zillow, Trulia is also an online residential real estate website that connects home sellers with buyers, renters, and real estate professionals in the United States. With a business model similar to Zillow’s, Trulia was acquired by Zillow Group in 2015 for $3.5 billion. The resulting entity is considered the most prominent online real estate company operating in the United States.
An entity as large as Zillow Group provides its users with the benefits of scale, but its market domination means it hasn't needed to adopt some of the smaller competitors' features in the space offer. Many online real estate websites have cropped up to dethrone Zillow Group as an industry leader. The following are four options that provide alternatives to Zillow and its subsidiary, Trulia.
Homebuying and Selling Alternatives
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. The Redfin app, available on iOS and Android, claims to update its data every five minutes.
First, Redfin's user interface and site design are very similar to Zillow's and Trulia's, allowing users to search for properties through a map-based function. After searching the site with a city or ZIP code, Redfin displays information—home value, home appreciation, square footage, year built, homeowners association fees, construction components, sewage system specifics, and other housing data points—that a homebuyer might want to know. Also, users browsing for homes can compare units side by side.
Second, Redfin offers features that Zillow and Trulia do not. The company, which began as a real estate broker, employs a team of real estate agents whom Redfin users rate. The compensation these real estate agents receive correlates directly to the ratings they receive. To help homebuyers, the company also rebates part of the real estate commission back to the purchaser.
On Oct. 29, 2020, several fair housing organizations filed suit against Redfin, accusing the company of systemic racial discrimination. The complaint says the online real estate broker offers fewer services to homebuyers and sellers in minority communities. Housing discrimination is illegal, but it does persist today, and you can fight against it.
Users should be aware that in some cities, Redfin does not disclose exact addresses if sellers prefer to keep them hidden, and the site does not automatically provide home value data if the listing agent chooses not to have it displayed. In other cities, Redfin automatically provides complete sales and listing data.
Finally, though the full data might not always be there, the company integrates with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and lists homes within 15 minutes of when they go live on the MLS.
Homesnap is an online real estate platform that includes features such as 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 is its mobile app. With the app, it is possible to take a real-time picture of a house that is for sale with a mobile device and have the app query all the necessary listing information about the property.
The mobile app even works on unlisted homes, apartments, and condos, showing users the property values of places currently off the market. The app is available for Android, iPhone, Apple Watch, and Apple TV users.
Many online real estate websites are portals that get their information from property databases agents and brokers share. As a brokerage, Redfin is an exception.
NeighborhoodScout provides users with information regarding neighborhoods in the United States. Users can access the company’s neighborhood information using the search function by entering a city or specific address. When a user enters these search criteria, NeighborhoodScout provides average house values, local school information, demographic data, crime rates, traffic data, and more.
Though most of this information is free for users, a subscription is required for some of the more robust data. With plans starting at $39.99 per month, users can access detailed school reports, crime rates, and housing appreciation rates.
The information given to users through NeighborhoodScout’s subscription service is currently not offered by either Zillow or Trulia, making it a viable alternative to either company.
Realtor.com is an online real estate website owned by News Corp. (It licenses the term Realtor from the National Association of Realtors.) Though the information is current, the site is more basic and doesn't have the robust features of Zillow, Trulia, or the other companies on this list.
However, it's connected to the MLS with the most current listings on the market and is a good place to start searching for a home. It also has a texting option to connect to real estate professionals and a pricing feature to assess how specific home features, such as a garage, affect cost.
Upon finding a home listing, a user can employ a blended strategy to search for that home on one of the three websites listed previously. This way, it's possible to have the most information about a listing, so a buyer can be the first to view the property on Redfin, Homesnap, or NeighborhoodScout, then contact the Realtor quickly.
The name of this website is expository. Foreclosure.com focuses on foreclosures and allows users to search by a number of options. In addition to the popular city and price search options of other websites, Foreclosure.com has options to look for "cheap homes" nationwide, a feature that is sure to be a hit with real estate investors. The cheap homes section of the website also includes estimated potential profit on the property and dozens of other features investors who create a free account will appreciate. The site also offers options to search nationwide for rent-to-own homes and city-owned homes.
FSBO stands for for sale by owner, and FSBO.com is a website that focuses on homes the owners and not real estate agents are selling. The website makes its money by offering listing services for home sellers. It has two packages for listing homes.
Its FSBO package includes a listing on FSBO.com for six months, a free Redfin listing, unlimited photos, and one video upload, and 24/7 access to edit or cancel the listing. Yard signs and supplies are sold separately from this package. The cost of their FSBO package is $99.95.
Their MLS package includes a listing on FSBO.com for six months, a listing on the MLS for six months, listing syndication to other popular real estate websites like Zillow, and other features (some of which can vary by state). Be aware that signing on to this package includes agreeing to pay the buyer's broker commission (which averages 2% to 3% of the sale price) to be posted on the MLS. The cost of their MLS package is $399.95.
Home Bay is a website most similar to Redfin and is currently only available in California. It offers both listings and services to visitors. It includes flat fee services for both buying and selling a home through their website without paying the full commission costs of a real estate agent.
Homes for Heroes
Homes for Heroes is a website that specifically targets firefighters, EMS workers, law enforcement, military, healthcare professionals, and teachers. It doesn't provide listings, but it does link homebuyers who qualify to real estate agents and lenders who can find them the best local deals and rewards possible.
Eppraisal is a website that mostly helps homebuyers and sellers look at comparable sales and appraisal estimates. Zillow estimates can be notoriously inaccurate, and a website like Eppraisal can help individuals get another data point on what a specific property might be worth before the official appraisal comes back.
Xome includes all the same listings as the MLS and also includes foreclosures and bank-owned auctions. Xome has partnered with the mortgage lender Mr. Cooper to provide equity estimates to borrowers when they login to their loan servicing page. This estimate works to encourage borrowers to consider a cash-out refinance through Mr. Cooper.
Your State's MLS
Depending on where you live you may be able to access your state's MLS without first getting a real estate agent. In Utah, for example, viewing the MLS is possible through the website UtahRealEstate.com whether or not you are working with an agent. In New England, you can access the MLS for New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and portions of New York through the website NEREN.com.
If you are able to view the MLS in your area online directly, you will only see properties that are currently active on the market. This makes the MLS more accurate than Zillow, which frequently keeps properties listed as available long after they have been taken off the market.
Rental Housing Alternatives
In addition to providing a home selling and buying platform, Zillow lists rentals on their platform. Here are some great rental listing sites that can serve as alternatives to Zillow and Trulia.
Apartments.com provides listings for traditional apartments in complexes, multifamily properties, condos, duplexes, townhomes, and single-family homes for rent.
Zumper.com's listings are similar to Apartments.com's and include the additional features of allowing users to search for monthly rentals and vacation rentals.
FurnishedFinder.com includes listings of furnished rooms and entirely furnished homes. This website specifically caters to travel nurses and other traveling professionals. It mostly offers shorter-term rentals than a website like Apartments.com but longer-term rentals at cheaper rates than a website like Airbnb. Furnished Finder is an excellent resource for those looking to stay in an area without having to deal with buying or moving furniture and household goods.
Rentler.com is most similar to Apartments.com but lists rooms for rent in addition to stand-alone units. Renting a room can be a great option for a recent graduate looking to live cheaply, or anyone looking to significantly reduce their housing costs to pay down debt, travel more, or save up for a home purchase.
Do Zillow and Trulia Cost Money?
Looking at properties on Zillow is free. Listing properties for rent on Zillow does come with a fee.
How Do Zillow and Trulia Make Money?
Zillow and Trulia make money by charging for rental listings, selling advertisements to real estate agents, and selling the Premier Agent branding designation on their website. Zillow attempted to make money by flipping homes in 2021 but famously failed to turn a profit.
Can You Buy a House on Craigslist?
You can't buy a house directly through Craigslist, but the site still does have properties listed both for sale and for rent and remains popular in many parts of the United States.
The Bottom Line
Though Zillow and Trulia are popular real estate sites, excellent alternatives do exist. 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.