The Internet has changed the way people shop for homes. According to a recent survey by statistics portal Statista, online websites are the most consulted information channels for home purchases in the United States. It found that 89% of the respondents consulted websites, and 87% consulted real estate agents. The venerable yard sign was the choice for 51% of the respondents.
What makes the sites so popular? Convenience, obviously. But also, most real estate websites feature mortgage calculators, allowing home-hunters to make affordability determinations on the spot. And they might find the information more reliable. Reckless assurances can be made verbally during a home showing by sellers or their agents. But sellers are more cautious about things set down in writing on a web page, due to legal considerations.
The most recent data from Statista revealed that as of January 2020, Zillow Group Inc. (Z) operates the most popular real estate website, with a monthly average of 36 million unique visitors and a 29.2% market share (based on visits). Zillow's grasp is even greater when you consider that in In February 2015, it acquired Trulia, which ranks as the second most-frequently visited site, with 23 million unique visitors per month. As the owner of the two leading sites for online home shopping, Zillow Group is consulted by approximately 59 million unique visitors per month.
Zillow’s most distinctive feature is its Zestimate, which appears within the listing of each property. The Zestimate is a home valuation, explained as Zillow’s estimated market value, to be used as a starting point in determining the property’s value. Although it is not an appraisal, the Zestimate can be an effective negotiating tool for buyers. It is probably the key factor behind Zillow’s success. The Zestimate is calculated by a proprietary formula, based on public and user-submitted data.
Zillow’s page for each property includes sections for tax history and price history. Unfortunately, this information does not always appear in the spaces provided. The price history occasionally includes the price paid by the seller to purchase the home.
Move Inc., a subsidiary of News Corporation (NWS), operates the Realtor.com website. News Corp acquired Move in Nov. 2014. Despite News Corp’s acquisition of Move, Realtor.com continues to function as the official website of the National Association of Realtors. Because of its extensive relationships with multiple listing services (MLS), realtor.com carries approximately 98% of all MLS-listed properties.
Realtor.com offers the advantages of Move’s network of websites, geared to buyers, sellers and real estate professionals. This website has more features than its competitors. Buyers can make moving arrangements with a click on the link for Moving.com. Sellers can access Remodelista, ListHub and Top Producer by selecting from the Products pop-up menu at the bottom of the Realtor.com page. The option above the search bar for recently sold properties allows buyers to understand how firm the asking prices generally are in a particular locale. Realtor.com also allows the user to filter the search for particular features, such as golf course views or swimming pools.
Statista survey reports that that Realtor.com has an average of 18 million monthly unique visitors.
Redfin.com, whose piscatorial-sounding name is actually based on the phrase "real estate redefined," claims to be the originator of map-based searches for real estate listings. According to the Statista survey, Redfin had an average of six million unique users per month.
Redfin’s sellers' listing fee can be as low as 1.5%, half the average fee. However, a seller must still pay a commission to the buyer’s agent. From the buyer’s perspective, Redfin usually offers more information, compared to what is available on other real estate websites listing the same properties. Examples of this information include photovoltaic power installations, homeowner’s association fees, construction components, sewage system specifics, flood zone information, and other details about the lot.
Although Redfin offers an abundance of important property-specific data, it also offers such map-based information as nearby restaurants, schools, and stores. This is particularly useful for people moving to an unfamiliar area due to a job transfer or other change of circumstances. Redin's property history section is often more detailed than the parallel sections on other sites, and it also includes a moving mortgage payment cost calculator on each listing page.