Best Real Estate WebsitesReviewAdvice

Best Real Estate Websites for 2016

Find your ideal home for sale with the best real estate websites

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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

Zillow Review

  • Pros
  • 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
  • Cons
  • You must sign in to view listed details
  • Some listings can be outdated

Zillow is the top name in online realty and for good reason - it is a popular choice among many realtors, attracting 36 million unique monthly visitors.

Searching for 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. It appraises 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 (mainly those in foreclosure), 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.

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.

Trulia Review

  • Pros
  • Simple, clean search filters
  • Informative area exploration map
  • Saving and sharing capabilities
  • Variety of useful apps
  • Provides thorough descriptions
  • Cons
  • Allows anyone to post homes for sale

Referring to the eBizMBA Guide, Trulia brings in roughly 23 million unique visitors. Important to note: Zillow Group bought Trulia for a cool $2.5 billion back in February 2015 - this is why both sites look quite similar.

Since the merge, Trulia has upped its game, adding apartment listings and mortgage products. That doesn't mean that Trulia is a carbon copy of Zillow; Trulia offers an incredibly user-friendly and rich experience. Buying homes is an easy process with Trulia, though if you choose to sell directly on the real estate site, you would be led to a questionnaire that would help determine the value of your home.

But how exactly is Trulia engaging? You can easily select homes utilizing Trulia's filters, which allows you to search by price, the number of beds, home types, sale status, specific keywords, bathrooms, square feet, lot size, and year built. Whenever you click on a listing, you'll be fed a plethora of information, including agents, estimated mortgage, full address, the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, size, year built, and a full description of the home's details.

What's best is that every listing includes a rating for the local schools and crime, a calculator for your commute time from the potential home, basic statistics such as median age, nearby areas, and a list of reported crimes. It's difficult to be more detailed than that. What's also helpful is the deluge of articles from Trulia, which would arm you with either the knowledge required for your house hunt or at least provide you with some tidbits of information.

For instance, there's a blog not just dedicated real estate, but saving for a home, home designs and decor, research, and celebrity homes! Yes, there's an article titled, "Rent Jessica Alba's Stylish Starter Home for $11,500 a Month."

Unfortunately, the main downfall of Trulia is that anyone can sell a home on the site, though if you plan on selling a home, you would have to go through Zillow - the home would show up on both Zillow and Trulia. This allows for con artists to lure unsuspecting buyers into their traps. Overall, with an easy-to-use interface, a powerful filter, and some great advice articles, Trulia deserves to be in second place.

Realtor.com Review

  • Pros
  • 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
  • Cons
  • 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 neighborhood 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, such as the full address, the square footage, and the year the home 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.

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.

Homes.com Review

  • Pros
  • Search by address, city, zip, neighborhood and MLS numbers
  • Helpful home professional search tool
  • Includes foreclosures
  • Helpful Q&A section
  • Cons
  • 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, as you are able to specify lot size, square footage, and year built right on the homepage, 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 its 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 during your adventures of 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. The site also tends not to include the full address for foreclosed properties.

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 in comparison to the other real estate sites.

ZipRealty Review

  • Pros
  • 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
  • Cons
  • Can't search by MLS

ZipRealty is another option for you to utilize on your house hunt. The site offers information on mortgages and real estate agents, including sections on both buying and selling homes with loads of helpful information. However, ZipRealty's most impressive feature is its 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 percent more homes compared to any other real estate sites. They also claim to list every available "for sale" home. Finally, it states that it update its site every two minutes, which contributes to a higher accuracy and fewer homes being falsely listed as "for sale."

ZipRealty is a great resource especially if you have very specific preferences. Their fast updates allow for a wider more accurate selection.

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.

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In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.

Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.