With so many options to choose from, deciding which real estate company to work with can be difficult. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia and explore some alternatives to these real estate giants.
Updated August 13th, 2019
Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia are all big names in the real estate game, and each offers something different when buying or selling a home. For example, if you’re researching fair market values for homes in your area, each site can give you a different amount for the same property.
Without expert guidance, it’s nearly impossible to know what’s an appropriate list price for a home.
If you’re trying to decide how much to price or offer for a home, don’t rely on algorithmic guesstimates — your best bet is to seek advice from an experienced local real estate agent. Agents have the requisite knowledge and resources to answer price-related questions and help ensure you get the best outcome on a real estate sale or purchase.
If you’re preparing to buy or sell a home and have questions about prices — or any other aspect of the real estate process — Clever can help you get the answers you’re looking for.
Schedule consultations, ask questions, get advice — referrals are 100% fee and there’s never an obligation to sign.
In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia: what they are, how they compare to one another, and how to utilize each when buying or selling a home.
What is Zillow?
The Zillow Group’s name stems from its original goal of providing users with “zillions” of data points. Clearly, the company succeeded, as it’s mainly known for its Zestimates — algorithmically generated estimates of home values based on massive amounts of data.
Zillow estimates are popular among buyers and sellers as they provide a general idea of what a home’s market value may be. However, the estimates only look at a few factors and are not always accurate. In fact, the company has been sued for the inaccuracy of its Zestimates, and some real estate agents have gone so far as to say that the public should think of them as nothing more than entertainment.
Zillow attempts to give you an idea of what the monthly cost of living in each home would be by breaking down its estimate into mortgage payments, taxes, homeowners insurance, and mortgage insurance. This gives potential homeowners a more realistic idea of how they’d need to budget for their new home. Although this seems like a useful tool, home buyers shouldn’t give it too much credence because of the inaccuracy of the Zestimates it's based on — it is not a substitute for an appraiser.
If you’re buying a home, you can also use Zillow to find top-rated agents in your area or the area you’d like to move to. These agents operate at the average commission rate of 6% of the final sales price.
Another downside of Zillow is the large number of outdated listings on the site. If you compare Zillow to other listing services, you’ll soon find that many homes listed on Zillow are already sold or under contract. Users often find that they’ll send their agent the links to the homes they want to see, only to be met with a “sorry, no longer available,” message.
What is Redfin?
Redfin was the first website to offer a search-by-map feature. This means that when you perform a search, the results will show up on the map, and you can filter your results by moving it around. Although you might think either Google or Airbnb was the first to use this familiar technology, Redfin was the true pioneer.
Just like Zillow, Redfin is an online real estate company that helps you find homes and agents in your area. It’s important to note, however, that Redfin is a real estate brokerage firm. Unlike Zillow, which shows you agents from different brokers, if you use Redfin, you’ll be working with one of their agents.
The major advantage of Redfin for home sellers is that you’ll only pay 4.5% in commission instead of the traditional 6%. This can save you money, but there are other companies like Clever that do one better and will sell your house for as low as 3.9%.
Redfin also provides home value estimates. With a margin of error of 1.77% for homes on the market and 6.66% for off-market homes, Redfin estimates are slightly more accurate than Zestimates. However, this may change as soon as Zillow claims the newest version of its algorithm has a margin of error of only 4%.
Unlike traditional realtors, Redfin agents are paid a salary and don’t earn a commission on any homes they sell. Instead, they receive bonuses based on their customer reviews. Surprisingly, there are complaints that Redfin agents don’t pay enough attention to their clients despite the emphasis the broker puts on customer service.
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What is Trulia?
Trulia is another online real estate marketplace like Redfin and Zillow (and is owned by Zillow Group). They have their own proprietary estimation tool, which attempts to break down the real cost of purchasing a home into more digestible monthly payments.
Trulia stands out because of the wealth of data it displays on the map of each home’s surrounding area. When looking at a house with Trulia, you can see the area’s recent sales, local schools, crime rates, public transportation options, and many other useful data points.
Location is important, and Trulia capitalizes on this: the company makes it possible to get something of a feel for the area without having to be there in person. A map filled with data is no substitute for visiting the neighborhood yourself, but it can help you narrow down your search if there are certain areas that won’t work for you. It can save you the hassle of going to a showing only to discover that the nearest grocery store is 20 minutes away, there are no train stops nearby, and the neighborhood is filled with crime.
Alternatives to Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia
If you want to buy or sell a home, you’re not limited to Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia. There are several other real estate companies out there hoping to change the game and make buying or selling a home a more enjoyable and cost-effective experience for everyone.
Clever is one of those companies. Clever focuses its energy on the most critical part of a real estate transaction: finding a great real estate agent. There are no home listings and no estimates, just a way to get in touch with an experienced realtor with expertise in your target market.
Compared to Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia, Clever charges the lowest commission fees. Selling with a Clever Partner Agent can cost you as little as 3.9% of the closing price — that’s over 2% in savings over traditional commission fees! Let’s look at an example to see how much Clever can save you:
Clever Partner Agents charge a flat fee of $3,000 for homes that sell under $350,000 and 1% for homes that sell over that threshold. Let’s say you sell your home for a cool $340,000. Traditionally, you would need to pay the buyer’s agent and seller’s agent 3% each for a total of 6% — that’s $25,500.
Savings with Clever
With Clever, you’d only pay $15,750: $3,000 to your agent, and 3% ($12,750) to the buyer’s agents. That’s close to $10,000 in savings!
All the savings in the world wouldn’t mean anything if there weren’t a great service behind them. Our Partner Agents are associated with major real estate brands like Keller Williams, Century 21, and RE/MAX, so you can rest assured that you’ll be getting the high-quality, personalized service that you deserve.
If you’re buying a home, working with a Clever Partner Agent qualifies you for a $1,000 home buyer rebate in the 40 states where it’s legal. The rebate can be put towards closing costs to help make buying a new home a little easier on the wallet.
Why would a great real estate agent offer their services for less? Realtors spend thousands of dollars and countless hours marketing themselves and finding new clients. Clever provides them with a consistent stream of clients, saving them money on promotion and allowing them to pass those savings onto you.
If saving thousands of dollars sounds appealing, get in touch and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced real estate agents.
Top FAQs for People Considering Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia
1. Which real estate site is most accurate?
There is no clear winner with accuracy. Redfin claims that their median error rate is 1.77% for homes currently on the market is and 6.66% for homes that aren’t for sale. Zillow recently claimed that their margin of error will drop below 4% soon following an international algorithm design competition they ran.
2. Is Redfin any good?
Redfin can be useful depending on what your needs are. Redfin offers sellers’ fees totaling 4.5%, but Clever offers full-service real estate agents to sellers for just 4% total, including the buyer’s agent’s fee.
3. Is Zillow or Redfin more popular?
Zillow is the most popular real estate site, with 27.2% of the market share (36 million monthly visitors). Trulia is the second most popular. Redfin has far fewer monthly visitors (6 million) and a 0.81% market share of the U.S. home sales market.
4. Does Zillow buy homes?
Zillow has begun to move into the iBuyer space and now provides cash offers for houses. Home sellers that are considering going this route should know about the higher fees. Their platform is called Zillow Offers and is a quick way to sell your home, but you’ll likely compromise on price.
5. Will Redfin buy my home?
Yes. Redfin has entered the direct buyer space along with Zillow. Both companies now offer services similar to Opendoor and Offerpad. Redfin’s platform is called RedfinNow, which offers a quick close, a cash offer, with the downside being a higher service fee.