Best Real Estate Sites
A home is often the largest investment that the average person makes, so it is no wonder that buying and selling a home is one of the most complicated transactions you can encounter. Whether you are searching for your dream home or you are trying to sell a property, the best real estate websites can be a valuable tool to use.
Using trusted real estate sites for comprehensive online searches allows you to see how the housing market is doing in your area. You can compare houses in various neighborhoods, search for specific location amenities that cater to your needs and access all kinds of listed information.
Best Real Estate Websites: What to Consider
When you are looking for a good real estate website there are a few features that you should look for. Different sites will have different search functions, listed information and types of homes. Make sure you consider the following factors when you are looking for your ideal online real estate tool:
- Some sites don't include foreclosed properties or recently or soon to be built properties. If you are looking for these specific types of property, make sure the site you are using actually shares these.
- Search functions may be varied from site to site. Take a look at what each one has to offer. For instance, some include the ability to search using an MLS number while others don't.
- Likewise, some sites don't even display some information like the square footage or architectural style.
The Best Real Estate Websites
- Includes foreclosed property
- Includes full address
- Lists square footage
- Excellent local market information
- Shows MLS number
- Can't search by the MLS number
You start with a simple search box where you enter the city you are looking in, your price range and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. You are then able to access all the information about a specific housing market that you would want, including the latest listing and selling price trends and a list of the top realtors in your area. Besides being able to search for homes and compare prices you get information on the total home buying package.
RealtyTrac includes both foreclosed and for sale properties and you can specify which one you are looking for on the main search page. After you have entered the basic information you can filter the search even more by sorting results by square footage and even the listing dates. There is also an abundance of information provided, including the MLS number and a brief summary of interesting features the home has.
Although, there is plenty of relevant information provided in the result page, the search page is somewhat limited if you are looking to search by an MLS number.
Verdict - Superb
RealityTrac.com proves to be a resource that caters to every aspect of real estate that a potential home buyer might want.
- Excellent search tools
- Up to date site
- Good mobile apps
- Helpful articles and advice on buying and selling homes
- Get multiple estimates on your home's own worth.
- Can't search by MLS
ZipRealty is another option for you while you are on a house hunt. They offer information on mortgages and real estate agents and they include sections on both buying and selling homes with loads of helpful information. However, ZipRealty's most impressive feature is their search tools.
The search tool has several features and filters that allow you to get one of the most comprehensive searches among the top real estate sites. After you put in the city or zip code, your price range and the number of beds and baths you are looking for, a whole host of new filters become available. You can choose what kind of property you are looking for; there is even a filter if you are simply looking for land. You can set your preferred minimum lot size and square footage. You can choose the listing types and you can even set the home's age range. With all of these filters it is almost like having a real estate agent that you can give your specific preferences to.
ZipRealty also claims to list 30% more homes than any other real estate sites and that they list every available for sale home. They also to claim to update the site every 2 minutes which contributes to more accuracy and fewer homes are falsely listed as "for sale."
Verdict - Great
ZipRealty is a great resource especially if you have very specific preferences. There fast updates allow for a wider more accurate selection.
- Search by city, zip, address or the name of the neighborhood
- Helpful map view feature
- Useful forums and articles
- Unique home design section
- Mortgage and home loan reviews
- You must sign in to view listed details
- Some listings can be outdated
Zillow is a top name in online realty and it is a popular choice among many realtors.
Searching an area on Zillow comes with a few unique perks. If you search for a city or a zip code, the entire area shows up on a map with listings showing you where each property is located. Each property type has its own color on the map so you can see what is available at a glance. Next to the map is a typical list of properties. This layout is a convenient way to get a quick overview of an area while also seeing specific properties that are available.
Zillow has a ton of information on each home you are looking at which they pull from online resources and from other sources of information. They appraise properties with a system that takes all of the available information and puts it into an algorithm which then churns out their Zestimate. This system offers a unique way to get estimated values and it is generally within the realm of an accurate appraisal. However, Zillow has received some criticism for the accuracy of their Zestimates because it does not take into account the things that may affect the value of a home that can't be seen on the internet.
Unfortunately, if you want to view some of the details of a home, you will need to create an account with Zillow and sign in. However, you can connect your account with Facebook for a quick set up and sign in. If you are seriously considering buying a home it is definitely worth making an account to use this helpful search tool and gain access to their wealth of information.
Verdict - Very Good
Zillow has a wealth of information on homes and realtors and its helpful map feature lets you see a comprehensive view of an area. However, you will need to sign up to get the full picture.
- Search by address, city, zip, neighborhood and MLS numbers
- Plenty of listed information
- Helpful map feature
- Good real estate agent search tool
- Comprehensive search tool and filters
- Fees for agents using Realtor
Realtor.com is another valuable home listing site with an incredibly comprehensive search function. You are able to search by address, city, zip codes and neighbourhood names. You can also search by MLS numbers which many top sites don't allow. You can set some fairly unique filters including recent listing activity like open houses, price reductions and new listings. You can also check areas within a city that you would like to be near.
The listed information is very comprehensive and includes virtually everything a potential home buyer would want to see. This includes the full address, the square footage and the year it was built. You can have a report of the improvements and additions sent to your email. In addition, there is a detailed description of the home's interior, exterior and construction. You will have a fairly accurate idea of what the house can offer before even visiting it.
The site has comprehensive search features for when you are trying to find a real estate agent. You can search for agents by area or by name to read reviews and descriptions.
Verdict - Very Good
Realtor.com offers plenty of valuable information and an excellent search tool. Realtor.com is also fairly accurate in that they get their information directly from MLS.
- Search by address, city, zip, neighborhood and MLS numbers
- Helpful home professional search tool
- Includes foreclosures
- Helpful Q&A section
- Does not include addresses for foreclosures
- Limited info compared to other sites
Homes.com is another good option to consider for your real estate search. The search tool is fairly comprehensive. You are able to specify lot size, square footage and year built right on the home page whereas you would have to set those filters after your initial search on other top sites.
You are also able to search for local real estate agents with their agent search tool. However, it is not only realtors that you can find using this handy tool but all kinds of professionals that you might need while home buying and selling. You can find mortgage lenders, appraisers, electricians, architects and virtually any other professional you might need for a home.
Homes.com doesn't display as much information as some other top sites, so if you are doing independent house hunting you might need to use other sites for more information as well. The site also tends not to include the full address for foreclosed properties.
Verdict - Good
Homes.com is a great place to find home professionals in your area but, when you are searching for homes, there is not as much information displayed when compared to other sites.
Best Real Estate Websites Recap
For a home buyer, using a real estate website doesn't come with any expense so using many sites can only help you get a more complete view of the market. Find one that you are most comfortable with.
Best Real Estate Sites FAQs
What is an MLS number?
If you are browsing the internet looking at houses on real estate sites you may come across MLS numbers. These numbers are assigned by multiple listing service which is a service used by real estate brokers to view information on properties, among other functions. The MLS number helps realtors quickly identify homes in site searches and databases.
Although the MLS number system is primarily for the use of real estate agents and brokers, a prospective home buyer or seller can benefit from them. Searching for the right home is a long process, so when you find a home that you are interested, using a number can help make your continued research that much easier. As a home seller, if you find out your listed property's MLS number you can use it to search different sources to see what your home's worth is estimated at.
To find out your property's MLS number you can ask your realtor to send you a copy of your listing information. This is something that should be done anyway so that you can make sure all the information is accurate and up to date.
How do you know if a website's price estimate is accurate?
When you are searching for a home using a real estate site, you may see a variety of different price estimations for the same home. A single home can have price differences of thousands of dollars from one site to another. Some homes come with a lot of detailed information while others only have the basic data available. When there isn't much information available, different sites will end up filling in gaps and estimations will be very different.
Pay attention to the way a site generates their estimations. For instance, a site like Zillow uses an algorithm to generate their "Zestimate". When there is an abundance of raw data the algorithm can come up with a fairly accurate estimation. When there isn't, the estimation may be different from a site that uses more human methods.
The best way to get an accurate picture of what a house costs is to visit multiple websites to get multiple estimations to get a good range and indication of value.