The Truth About Trulia, Zillow and Searching for a Home Online

Many of the homebuyers I work with have looked at homes for sale online on sites like Zillow and Trulia.  They often have questions about the information they are getting online, so I thought I’d take a moment to explain who and what these large real estate sites are.

Zillow and Trulia are National Property Portals.  They collect and aggregate information about housing and houses for sale from all over the U.S. and offer it up to consumers in a searchable database. They make money by selling advertising.  The Portals sell premium placement of agent and broker information throughout their websites, in theory giving those agents an edge in securing buyer and seller leads.

The information on houses for sale comes from a variety of data feeds.  It is possible for an agent or broker to physically input a listing into the National Portals, but in reality this rarely happens.  Instead, the agent or broker inputs the listing into the local MLS, that then ‘feeds’ the listing information to the Portal.  In their quest to have as much housing information as possible, the Portals also ‘pull’ feeds – sometimes containing the same, but perhaps not exactly the same, information – from other sources.  For example, if the real estate office is a member of one of the large franchises, their franchisor may feed listings to the portals as well.  Or a large, multi-office firm may have its own feed.

As many home buyers quickly realize there are frequent inaccuracies in the data on the large portals. It is a conundrum for the portals for which there is no easy solution.  

Essentially they are trying to do what is a local job with a national platform.  They receive tons of data from multiple sources and, because they are removed from the local market, their methods of discerning what is accurate, and what is not, are somewhat flawed.  So you have duplicate listings with different prices, homes for sale that were actually sold weeks, even months ago and price estimates that consider only the average value in an area – which can be skewed by one very big sale or one that is very small. It can be very frustrating for the consumer.

Of course, there is a better way to search for homes for sale on Oahu or anywhere in Hawaii.   At Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties, we approach the homebuying process as a partnership.  We want our buyer clients to be as involved in the search as they’d like to be, and we want them to have access to the most up-to-date and accurate information as possible.  

That’s why our website pulls data from the LOCAL MLS every day and makes it available to consumers in an easily searchable format.  When you search for homes for sale at, you are looking at he same data that local real estate agents use.  It is accurate, current and easy to understand.

If you are just starting your search or deeply into it – or if you’re just curious about local homes for sale – we’d be pleased to show you how our local home search site can make the process easier.  You can search to your heart’s content, and when you need more information on a property, on financing, or on qualifying, we will be right there with you.

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