All but gone are the days when home buyers needed an agent to track down the right property.
They continue to rely more and more on Internet resources and less and less on real estate agents. Real estate websites conveniently list properties for sale, each with attention-grabbing pictures, videos and virtual walk-through tours.
Technology doesn’t have to be bad news for your real estate business. It can actually be your new best friend (no, really!). Get to know these online resources and you can put them to work for you. Here are the three biggest players.
Realtor.com is the most popular of these websites, with around 50 million users per month (versus Zillow with 28 million and Trulia with 21 million). Realtor.com is the official site of the National Association of Realtors and calls itself the “essential resource for anyone interested in real estate, properties, active listings, connections to realtors, mortgage rates and lending information, home loans, and more.”
Agents love Realtor.com for its feature “Showcase Listings,” which let them post up to 25 photos for each property they list. Agents can also post videos, which are powerful marketing tools that go a long way toward influencing potential buyers. “Showcase Listings” include open-house alerts, extended property descriptions, and multiple lead forms, which make contacting listing agents very easy.
Zillow helps homeowners, buyers, sellers, agents, mortgage lenders, landlords, and property managers find and share information. It’s a clearinghouse for data and information about buying, selling, renting, leasing, remodeling or financing.
Zillow Mobile has the most popular real estate apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. The apps show for-sale and for-rent listings, home valuations and recently sold properties. Of course, they also provide basic property data such as area and number of bedrooms.
Zillow’s “Mortgage Marketplace” lets borrowers connect with lenders to find loans and get the best mortgage rates. Potential buyers and sellers can connect with agents,and homeowners can browse remodeling ideas and the latest real estate trends.
Zillow is also home to “Make Me Move,” which allows the seller to post an asking price and see what counteroffers it can get without actually putting the property on the market.
Another innovative Zillow feature is “Bird’s Eye View,” a nifty way to get an aerial view of a property. The feature is similar to what Google Earth provides, but it offers a sharper view than Google’s satellite imagery.
Trulia has a well-designed site with most of the basic functionality of Realtor.com and Zillow. Its neighborhood crime maps are especially helpful to buyers learning about neighborhoods. Trulia’s searchable database boasts 110 million properties in all.
Trulia has a smartphone app that shows listed properties in a selected area. The app allows searches by neighborhood, number of bedrooms and other criteria and allows the user to explore a neighborhood for attractions such as restaurants, shops and grocery stores.
Real estate professionals use Trulia to connect with buyers and sellers via targeted advertising services and social recommendations.