Tomayto. Tomahto. It depends on personal preference (... although the American pronunciation is clearly superior.) Same goes for real estate sites Zillow and Trulia. Both allow you to browse homes for purchase or rent, but there are subtle differences.
Home Value Estimates
Zestimates (Zillow. Estimate. Get it?) are estimates of a home’s value, taking into account size, age, neighborhood and selling price of similar homes. Zillow also gives you a Zestimate range, a one-year forecast, and a behind-the-scenes peek at which comparables homes were used to come up with these numbers.
While this may give you a good range, if you tell any real estate agent you’re basing your asking price based solely off the Zestimate and they’re likely to hide their giggles behind a grin (and try to talk you out of it.)
Trulia also provides its own home value estimate, and a list of homes used as comps to arrive at that value, but doesn’t offer much more than that. The only additional piece Trulia offers that Zillow doesn’t is a breakdown of the county’s property assessment — what value is assigned to the land and what value is assigned to the house itself — which most home-buyers don’t care too much about.
Since 2015, when the Zillow Group acquired Trulia, the two sites’ browsing views have become much more similar, but there are some key differences on how their information is displayed.
Zillow's user experience is a tad more graphical — the featured photos shows more prominently for the listing. Plus, on the specific home view, all photo thumbnails are shown right off the bat.
You must click a button to see all the photos for a listing on Trulia, although the site provides tons of map overlays including street view, schools, crime rates, commuting times, and retail.
Browsing Filters and Sorting
Both sites allow you to filter out homes by price range and sort by various features — list date, price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and square footage — but there are some differences.
Zillow also features the capability of sorting by the year the home was built, lot size, and Zestimate.
Trulia’s bonus features include filtering by the home’s date of price reduction (if there is one), price per square foot, number of photos available, and a “just for you” setting based on your personal preferences. You can sort by an estimated mortgage payment if you’re more interested in what your monthly bill may be.
Unlike Trulia, Zillow offers listings in the United States and Canada, including Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, and Kelowna.
Trulia only shows listings located in the United States.
While both sites provide research data they use to come up with estimates and other listing-related figures, Zillow reigns supreme in the data realm. You can dig deep into just about any market, see median home values, what homes are currently selling for and historical trends.
Trulia offers some data, but not nearly as much. Most of their additional research and resources is centered on informational blog posts and tips for buying, selling, or renting.
Community & Crime
When purchasing a home, most buyers want a feel for the area — Where’s the nearest coffee shop? Is it safe? Where are the nearby schools? What’s my commute time look like? Being able to see all this information without having to go to the hassle of attending an open house is key.
Zillow offers some data on specific communities, but most of it relates to nitty-gritty details about home values and the expected housing forecast. The site delves very little into the community.
Trulia shines in this area and it is one of the site’s best features — hands down. Trulia’s map overlays give you a visual picture of commute times, crime rates drilled down by cross-streets, and even a list of which specific crimes were reported and when. This can be a valuable tool to gauge the feel of a new city or neighborhood, particularly if you’re new to the area.
Costs of Living
When buying a new home, it’s important not only to know what your monthly mortgage payment will be but also how much you’ll need for utilities, property taxes and other costs of living.
Zillow’s monthly cost estimator calculates an estimate, including the mortgage principal and interest, mortgage insurance, property taxes, homeowners insurance, HOA fees, and utilities. The site uses area-specific data to arrive at its estimate, but all values are editable by the user.
Trulia provides a similar estimation with a nice visual but only variables associated with the mortgage are editable.
While Zillow and Trulia are both great tools, they’re just that — one tool in your toolbox for buying or selling a home. If you’re doing either, you’ll want someone else on your side — not just an emotionless data-based website, but someone who can talk you through the entire process and help you find your dream home.
If buying a home, enlist the help of a local, trusted real estate agent. Besides uncovering additional cost-savings opportunities, Clever Partner Agents also offer on-demand showings — sometimes in less than an hour — so you know you won’t miss out on your dream home. Plus, you’re eligible for a $1,000 buyer’s rebate on any home you purchase for more than $150,000 in California.
Clever also works with major brands to help sellers get a significant discount on commissions. Clever Partner Agents are top-rated real estate agents who are experts in their local markets. If you’re selling your home, Partner Agents offer the same full service as other agents, but have agreed to work for a flat fee of $3,000, or 1% if your home sells for more than $350,000, instead of the typical 3% commission charged by Zillow agents and others.