Rolling Out Our Monthly Newsletter w/VIDEO

Hey! It's Ilya and James - The HOME Team

Hey! It’s Ilya and James – The HOME Team

We are officially starting our monthly newsletter.  Frankly, I don’t know what kind of information would perk your interest on a regular basis, yet we’ll try to provide only high quality content.  We are Realtors, so naturally we want to share news related to real estate in St Petersburg and Tampa Bay area.  But we are human too, so we will share things from our day to day lives, information about local restaurants, parks, neighborhoods and more.  So stick with us and feel free to share your thoughts in comments below or send us a private message.

If you are reading this but did not receive our newsletter in your email, please send us your contact info here and we’ll add you to our email newsletter list.  Close to 2,000 people read it, and so should you!

As always, if you know anyone looking to sell or buy a home, let us know, we’ll appreciate a referral.  Our clients love us!  You can find our reviews on Trulia, Zillow and Yelp.

Name (required)

Email (required)

My Phone #

Your Message

Communication, Baby! With VIDEO

And Why It Is Important In Real Estate

I believe one can get a degree in communications.  What to say, how to say it and when to say it can pretty much determine your communication success not only in business but also in your private life.  We must remember who we are trying to communicate with, why we are trying to communicate with them and if we are speaking their “language”.

A lot has been said about tonality, positive energy and voice level when speaking with clients but sometimes I observe a communication break down between a professional and their client. This usually happens when professional lingo is being used in the conversation. It’s often not intended (though some use it to appear superior and knowledgeable… not a good move!), but it raises a wall and makes the client feel stupid (sorry to be harsh here).  They will not admit it so they won’t ask you what it was you just said.  It can cause stress, distrust and lost business.

In real estate industry there are many terms we use daily and sometimes can forget that our first-time buyers or sellers have no idea what we are talking about.  It is our goal to make sure we communicate clearly with our clients and if a professional term has to be used in our conversation we explain the meaning.  A simple Purchase Contract has many of such terms and I enjoy explaining them to buyers and sellers for their peace of mind and appreciation of being educated.  After all, we are not just sales people, we are real estate professionals, advisers and consultants.

Watch this VIDEO to see James give an example of real estate lingo text messaging!

Need someone who speaks your language? Call us today 727-417-4495

Life On The Water In Redington Shores

Waterfront Lifestyle – Is It Something You Seek?

For so many happy home owners in Tampa Bay life is very much about living on the water.  Wide, wide water.  The kind of bay or canal that makes you want to get out to your back porch in the morning with your coffee mug and be so very grateful for your much coveted lifestyle.

This home in Redington Shores presents just such opportunity.  207 176th Ave E, Redington Shores, FL 33708 may be an address for some, but for you it may become a dream home.  With over 2,000 sq.ft, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 offices, oversized spa, newer dock and 10,000 lbs boat lift all it needs is a happy resident.  Like what you see on the pictures?  Something in this VIDEO drew your attention? (scroll down for video tour)  Call us for more information now 727-417-4495.


Wide Bay of Boca Ciega, great distance from your neighbors across the channel.


Fiberboard dock and 10,000 lbs boat lift.


Updated kitchen opens into the living room.


Open living room


Water view from your home office. Watch dolphins every day!


Zillow and Trulia – Wasted Money or Added Service?

As A Realtor You Have To Choose Your Position On Zillow And Trulia

We have an interesting discussion going on our Tampa Bay Realtors® Facebook group, which  I started over a year ago with a purpose of educating and helping local Tampa Bay real estate agents.  It’s an open group where we share experience, exchange referrals and post real estate related questions.

A few days ago one of the agents posted a question: are you happy with being a premier agent on Zillow?  Do you get good clients that way?  And the answers poured in.  Frankly, most of them reflected the unsatisfactory results.   Comment after comment would say: bad leads, low-end buyers, no leads, not worth the money and such.  I’m referring to a paid service, where you buy into a zip code and as a result show next to listings as a local real estate expert.  Similar ideas are offered on Trulia and Homes.com.

Here’s my position: I strongly believe the key concept many agents miss today is this paid service is not just to get buyer leads.  Just as much if not more it is about providing added service to your sellers.

It’s enough to simply see blank photos on agents’ profiles and low resolution pictures that are syndicated from your MLS to know that agents are not putting effort into promoting their clients’ listings on these portals.  By the way, many enhancements are free on Zillow and Trulia.  But then, there are some of us who see the value and decide to go for a paid service.  But when you pay for extra, why not spend a little time in uploading more pictures, links to YouTube, your bio info and video?  It’s also a good idea to be involved in Q&A section of these sites and ask your clients for reviews.

Before purchasing a share of a local zip code spend an hour researching sales on MLS by zip.  Which one has the most sales, most listings?  Which zip code has the price ranges you’d like to work with?  Then figure out if you want to buy into a large share of one zip or small shares of several.  No decision is wrong; it all depends on your business strategy.

Enhancing your profile, investing time in research and making your listings look great on Zillow and Trulia – these are your keys to success.  Today they have become vibrant communities and safe havens for home buyers and sellers who are searching, buying, selling and looking for answers.  Be the agent who can and will offer what the clients are looking for.

So again, stop thinking “paying for leads” and start thinking “added service to my clients” and “positioning yourself as a local real estate expert”.  That’s what we at The Home Team of Re/Max Metro in St Petersburg, FL are committed to in our real estate business.

Enhanced Realtor.com – does it make sense?

And What It Means For Seller And Agent

I feel like I’m about to embarrass a few agents in my area.  Let it be if so.  My commitment first of all is to a client and so should it be for every listing agent in Tampa Bay area.  I’d like to talk about Realtor.com and the need for agents to use it correctly.  I think you will agree that Realtor.com is probably the most accurate MLS aggregator and in most cases you can rely on the information provided by Realtor.com.  On their site you will find the most up to date status, pictures and description available for your review.

If you are a home owner and about to list your home, you should know that Realtor.com is the #1 home web search engine in the USA.  Next in line are Zillow and Trulia.  During a listing presentation you will often hear the agent say that your listing will be posted all over the web to draw attention of as many buyers as possible.  Exposure is good.  Something even better is exposure that is maximized and beneficial for the seller.  Realtor.com offers enhanced profile feature.  Very often a broker of a real estate firm will pay the cost to help their agents with marketing.  However, sometimes it’s left up to the agent to obtain enhanced profile and pay the fee.  More often than not I see homes for sale on Realtor.com (sometimes very expensive listings) that do not have enhanced features.  Here’s what it means for you:

–          You are limited to 12 low quality pictures from MLS

–          You have a random product (like Viagra, for example) advertized next to your listed home

–          There are no virtual tours or video tours available

–          Any buyer request will go to a random agent in the area, not your personal agent

 

FYI: When home sellers become our clients, they get enhanced profiles not only on Realtor.com but also on Trulia and Zillow. 

 

And if you are a listing agent, perhaps you should think about the benefits you can offer to your clients, not mentioning how this can also help your business.

 

The cost for enhanced Realtor.com profile depends on the number of listings you have.  Trust me, you will make up on this cost with a portion of your first commission check.  You will be able to:

 

–          Post up to 30 high-definition pictures

–          Show off you branded video tour

–          Post your virtual tour

–          Have your full contact info next to you listing info

–          All information requests and listing questions come directly to you

 

Many agents do not like working with buyers.  Still I suggest you have an enhanced profile and refer the buyer out to someone in your office for a fee rather than give it all away to someone you don’t know.

Car Dealerships and Real Estate Firms. You and Them.

Car Dealerships Compared to Real Estate Brokerages. IS the Power in the Brand?

I find many similarities between car dealerships and real estate brokerages.  Car salesmen and real estate agents typically rank low in public trust, have the perception of being sleazy, unprofessional and are thought to only think about their commission.  This is often the consumer view, but those of us who actually have experience working at car dealerships or real estate firms can tell you there are many hard-working, honest and professional salesmen out there.  We just happen to be in business selling some of the most expensive items you’ll ever buy in your life: a car and a house, so we understand the emotions involved and the trust issue you have to deal with.

I’ve had the privilege of working at a Chevy dealership selling cars for about 7 months when I immigrated to the U.S. nine years ago.  And being in the real estate market today gives me a view of both worlds that are similar, except that you can’t drive a house.

You will find large brand named car dealerships out there.  And, then you will see family names on brand name dealerships and sometimes the same family will own several of those franchises locally.  Then you will see local independent pre-owned car dealerships.  Same in real estate.  You see big franchise offices like ReMax, Century21, Coldwell Banker, KW, etc.  But you also know a handful of local firms, some are small and some are big.  Some are about a big local name where agents can hang their license with minimum fees and some operate like a small local business.  Plus there’re several local new home builders with a small local operation or a nationally recognized name.

So what are your traditional options when you are looking to buy or sell a car or a house?

When You Are Buying

Scenario 1. When you’re ready for a new-used car you can go to a private seller. Or you can choose to pursue a “For Sale By Owner.” All risks are yours to take.
Scenario 2. You visit a big franchise like Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, etc. when you are buying a certified pre-owned vehicle. There’s some of that “certified”, “trusted local name” ringing in your head. So you head to ReMax, KW, Century21, Coldwell Banker and such for that peace of mind, perhaps, because you know they must be good since they’ve been around for so long.
Scenario 3. Looking for a brand new car? Some don’t care about the make as long as it matches the desired combination of safety, performance, appearance, comfort and ease of ownership, which includes how easy it is on your wallet. Still some love the brand (just ask the Subaru lovers) and ready to sacrifice some things because their confidence and trust lay in the name of that make. And I’m sure they have good reasons for that.

Same goes for new construction homes. You determine your budget, size, number of rooms and baths, location and then you shop among the builders. Some are old and reputable, some are newer but have interesting home models, some have great prices but are considered too cookie-cutter and yet some just offer good middle-of-the-road homes. There are GM style builders, that offer a variety from Saturn to Cadillac and there are some like Tesla Motor, offering just a few models at a premium per sq.ft yet when you see the efficiency and long-term value you buy their product.

Scenario 4. You are looking for a good deal on pre-owned, wanting to avoid bid dealer fees and have a simple transaction. So you find a local pre-owned car dealership with a good reputation. You shy away from little buy-here, pay-here shady places and pick a nice non-franchise dealer. In real estate you’ll find many independent agents who will be either on their own or a part of a well-established local office. If they are a team of professionals – you’re in good hands – they value their reputation on a local level.

When You Are Selling

Scenario 1. Well, you get some wax and polish, get’er done and sell it on Ebay!… or Craigslist. Similarly some paint and caulk can do miracles when you decide to sell your home as a For Sale By Owner (of “Fisbo” – the nick name most agents will give you). Be ready for the buyer to low-ball you because you don’t have an agent. You may also see the buyer pointing to something they think is broken and will cost thousands to repair.

Scenario 2. You trade-in for a new car. You take a little hit on the price but in the end the transaction is painless and simple. You go to the big franchise where people you don’t know will give you a quick idea what its’ worth based on the black book value. Professionals doing their job. Or you go to a local independent guy who you know and who knows your car and who may very well know who’s in your town looking for one just like that. Neither is better or worse – just different. Same for selling your house: franchise or independent agency? You decide based on your preferences.

 

Is your preference in branding or who you know? And where are we heading?

And your preferences are very often based on who you know.  Believe it or not, more than 50% of people buying a home simply go with someone they know and trust or someone they are referred to.  Same for cars: “my cousin is very honest, has a yard full of quality pre-owned cars and will give you a good deal”… right?

However, what about the other half of sellers and buyers?  There are many other scenarios of selling/buying in addition to the ones you just read about.  But how long will these stay relevant?  I see major changes going on in both the auto and real estate industries.  I see a rising number of people wanting to make a sale or purchase decision based on their own research.  I see the Internet drawing the clients closer and closer to the nuts and bolts of the industry.  They will research and make decisions quickly.  They know who is who in a local market within seconds.  They trust the openness and disclosure and shy away from static pages.  The clients want clarity, transparency and ease of transaction.  They want to know who you are and what you can do for them.  And they want to know it FAST!  Like a click-of-a-mouse fast.  Sharing too much on the web used to be taboo, well, now not sharing much is considered strange, you must be hiding something.

So what now?

You may be a client or an agent reading this and you could think, well, I will not conform.  That’s ok, there are still many traditional old ways to do business.  And if you are a broker, when was the last time you analyzed the tools you are offering to your agents?  Or, do you assume your brand name will carry you through to eternity?  Based on statistics, 6 out of 10 of your top producers are thinking of starting their own shops.  Equip your agents, spend some money on them, believe me, they will love you and bring their friends over from other brokerages.  Don’t waste money on useless motivational speakers, but build your office on innovation, technology and help.

Trust me – assistance and help are your new marketing tools.  Your brand may be dead tomorrow if you are not offering the sought after and relevant services to both clients and agents today’s market.

What are your thoughts on branding in Real Estate?  Let us know in comments below.

www.HomeTeamTampaBay.com – Tampa Bay Real Estate blog and services.

Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and Homes.com – what’s right for you? Part 2

Realtor.com vs. Homes.com – you choose

Recently I wrote a post on Zillow and Trulia.  I hope it was helpful to read on pros and cons.  It’s time to review the other two giants on the real estate search arena.

Realtor.com – should I say more?

Realtor.com mobile app

Perhaps. Realtor.com – is without a doubt the leader of the pack.  I assume it helps to be operated by the National Association of Realtors.  Yes, a part of your dues support the site which in turn accesses all MLS systems and presents all currently available listings.  Whether you want it or not, your listings are automatically on Realtor.com.  Realtor.com is strong; they’ve been there before any other major players appeared on the market.  Realtor.com is also related to Top Producer and Market Snapshot.

 

Enhanced Profiles and Listings on Realtor.com
If you are a part of a major franchise the chances are your profile and your listings are automatically enhanced.  Though too often the leads that come of your listing will be sent to your office and how they are spread among the agents after that is up to your broker.  If you are an independent broker or Realtor it is up to you to upgrade your profile and make your listings featured.  The cost?  It all depends on how many listings you have.  I’ve seen rates from $350 to $2,000 per year.  With a featured profile you can upload up to 25 pictures and have only your personal information on the listing and no Viarga ads.

 

Video Tours

Video Tours icon on Realtor.com search results

One of the features that I like is the option of video tours.  Yes, you can upload your own videos of the listings (limit 100 Mb per video) and not have them linked to YouTube, like most other search engines do.  At the same time, I do like how easy it is to simply drop a link in MLS to a video tour on YouTube, and then sites like Trulia and Zillow pick them up and display a link to the video tour on the listing. But if you don’t have a YouTube account (which you should) you can make a quick video and upload it on Realtor.com.  In addition you can make it branded here, where on MLS it must be unbranded.  Video tours can give you an additional edge with buyers because they will see a video tour icon on your listings in search results.  Have you started making home video tours yet?

 

Buyer Assist

Realtor.com home page

In addition you can purchase a Buyer Assist feature which allows you to be listed as a featured agent when buyers are searching in a specific zip code.  Realtor.com makes it easy to track all the leads coming your way and gives you an opportunity to sync them into your Top Producer system.  With Buyer Assist you are also getting a dedicated phone line so you know you have a potential client on the line when then phone is ringing.  However, Trulia also automatically assigns you a phone line (when you have a Trulia Pro account) and records your messages so you can listen to them online.  Zillow assigns a dedicated phone number as well (Premier Agent).  I get immediate text messages from both notifying me of a new lead, so I often call the potential clients while they are still looking at the listing on their computer.

 

Home Values feature
Home Values is another cool tool Realtor.com offers to the clients and of course to agents (agents pay a fee).  Not cheap and I haven’t tried it, but it links clients to your Market Snapshot.  This is where you can get seller leads and I assume you’d appreciate getting listings in addition to working with buyers, so there’s value it Home Values feature – worth checking out.

Homes.com – serious competition

Homes.com home page

Homes.com – is a rising star.  While Realtor.com focuses on searches and features, Homes.com embraces the interaction and engagement idea.  Of course it’s also a robust home search platform,  and in addition to that it features a very popular sections called Questions and Answers.  I get tons of requests that home buyers and sellers post daily with questions about properties, HOA fees, rentals, etc.  Not every request is going to turn into a closing, but if you engage, spend time and establish yourself as a know-it-all professional you will have business coming your way.  Just ask Ashleigh Masi at ReMax AllStar.  By promptly engaging and answering questions she has turned some of these folks into clients.

Homes.com Features

It is free to set up your profile on Homes.com and you can buy ad space that can help you increase your exposure.  If you want your listings featured and get a significantly higher number of views you’ll have to pay some.  $19.95/month per enhanced listing.  If you want to go even further – Local Branding is for you where city and neighborhood ads are available for purchase.  Contact Homes.com for pricing.  Homes.com also has a unique new product called Homes-Connect (click to watch the presentation), which is a marketing and client management platform that integrates with your social media outlets.  And for en extensive comparison of available features and products simply take a look here.

So, if you are looking for more than just listings, need to post a question and get some answers, want to address statewide or local real estate concerns, Homes.com maybe a good place where you can engage.
What sites are you using?  Where do you get the most return for your money as an agent? We’d like to know your opinion, please comment below.

Google Earth – What You Need to Know

Google Earth – a Helper or a Bummer?

My wife and I love to travel the world.  Well, I suppose I should say” loved” as most of our world travel happened prior to the arrival of our beautiful daughter who’s now 5.  But even at her young age she’s now been 3 times across the Atlantic and a few dozen times across the Florida border (primarily just across the state line of Alabama to visit Granna and Papa).  But when we’re itching to explore new places, be it across the globe, another state or even some new places in Tampa Bay – we turn to Google Earth.

Ovation Condos downtown St Pete Street View

I’m still amazed Google doesn’t charge for this exciting application.  Of course this is nothing like visiting places in person, but to get a good idea of the surroundings it’s a great tool to have.  Google Earth offers several features that I really enjoy.  Let me name a few.

1. Bird-eye view navigation.  It’s very intuitive and if you’ve ever taken flight lessons or tried to fly a remote control helicopter you’ll be “flying” in Google Earth and smiling while doing it.  With the help of Look and Move joysticks you can Tilt, pan, zoom, and move your vantage point in 3D motion.

Downtown St Pete 400 Beach Dr 3D image

2. You can record and narrate your flight.  Want to send your personal city tour to a friend?  No problem.  Do you have clients from out of town?  How about creating a quick flight video of the downtown and tell them a little about local real estate with some visual help.
3. 3D buildings.  Awesome feature!  If you live in a relatively large city, chances are Google 3D’ed most of your tall building and you can see their 3D images on the map.  Make sure to check “3D” in the Layers menu.

Downtown 3D Google Earth view

4. Street View.  Drop the yellow pegman anywhere on the map as long as the streets are marked with blue lines.  All of a sudden you are out in street, looking at homes, buildings and parks as if out of the window of your car.

Final Thoughts

I think Google Earth is a great tool for enthusiasts and professionals alike.  I personally have a good visual memory, so for me getting oriented in a new city is a must.  Maps and especially 3D maps help me do just that.  The cool thing about Street View is that it’s available on most smart-phone devices.  Clients love it when a few seconds after I asked them for their street address, while they still try to describe what their house looks like, I show them their house in Street View on my iPhone and then their neighbors house and then “drive them” through their neighborhood.

A Little Bummer

But there’s one thing about Street View that bothers me, especially if you live in the area where seasons are rather defined (here in St Petersburg Florida it’s always summer!).  I was looking at a residential neighborhood on Google Maps near New York City and it looked lush and green.   Then I dropped the pegman and all of sudden I was in a neighborhood with bare trees, it was a gloomy grey day, possibly late fall or early spring time.  So if Google sent out their fleet of camera cars to your neighborhood, let’s hope it was summer time and a sunny day!  Try selling your house in the summer but have a winter Street View.  Some potential buyers may be turned off if Google “drive by” is all they do.  So, maybe ask your agent for a one minute video tour of the neighborhood on a bright sunny day!  Put that link in MLS and other sites to help market your home.

Do you use Google Earth? I’d love to see your comments.

Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com or Homes.com? You choose!

Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and Homes.com – what’s right for you?

Whether you are a new agent in St Petersburg/Tampa area and someone just entrusted you with the sale of their home (your first listing…gulp!) or a seasoned professional with dozens of listed homes, I’m sure you’ve given these big 4 a serious thought.  That’s if you don’t use their services already.  I’ve posted a comparison from a consumer’s perspective here.

I’d like to offer a quick review, based on my experience with all four here in St Petersburg, FL.  Feel free to criticize, add or correct in the comments below.

Trulia.com

Honestly, I love the website.  A couple Standford grads from San Francisco founded Trulia in 2006 and in just 5 years they are in the top 3 home search sites.  Impressive.  I find the site very user-friendly and intuitive.  Good for users, but what about you?  Well, it’s free to have an account.  Trulia has lots of freedom in how you choose to structure your marketing.

Are you on a budget and simply want your listings to look good?  Want no ads and no other agents (next to your listing info) who’ll be getting leads from your listings?  Well, then you have to upgrade to Trulia Pro.

If you have 10 listings or less, start out with Pro Plus for $39.99/mo.  Up to 10 listings will be featured with ability to add extra pictures and you will also get you a bit more exposure with positioning in the list of local pros.  Deluxe at $79.99/month allows you to feature up to 25 listings and Elite profile gives you up to 50 featured listings at $149.99/mo.

Separately you can buy ad space on Trulia.  Depending on the area you choose the price can easily be a couple hundred bucks a month or more.  The cool thing is that you can either choose a carousel of your listings coupled with your profile photo or create your own custom ad with a link to your site or blog.

Zillow.com

Zillow is just a little older than Trulia and its headquarters are in Washington.  Seems like the high-tech real estate technology is abundant on the west coast.  Initially Zillow gained popularity through their Zestimate feature.  I love Zestimates… and I hate them.  But that’s a whole different topic and deserves a post of its own (my quick take on Zestimates here).

Like on Trulia you can have a free profile and add as many pictures as you want to your listing.  However, there’re no enhanced profile options.  The only way you can get your listings featured is if you buy into a zip code.  Then you become a Premier Agent.

Once you are a Premier Agent all your listings become featured; you get a showcase ad and of course get on the list of local agents in the home search results.  You can typically buy a percentage of a zip code.  If you buy less than 100% of a zip you won’t show up in the list of agents as often but at least all your listings will be featured (no limits on featured listings like on Trulia).  Cost depends on the zip code and percentage you buy.  It can be anywhere from around $50 to several hundred a month. I wouldn’t recommend buying less than 25% share of a zip code.

Zillow and Trulia features:

In order to feature your listing Zillow prompts you to buy a full or portion of a zip code (and you will primarily get leads from that zip code!), so Trulia in my opinion offers a bit more flexibility.  But it all depends on your marketing strategies.  Also remember, Zillow claims to have move visitors (though not by much), especially since they recently joined forces with Yahoo Real Estate.

Zillow allows you to post a video in your profile (link to YouTube), which I like.  In addition Zillow’s Advice page is rich with valuable content and features a Blog by selected Zillow pros.  You can also start your own conversation and post or answer a question.

The same can be done on Trulia but they add something even better – you can write your own Trulia blog and attract thousands of buyers that are already searching on Trulia!  This is a place for you to shine as an agent.  For some areas it’s an untapped opportunity and can definitely make you stand out.  If you already have a blog then you could copy/paste your posts into your Trulia blog.

One more thing I like about Trulia is that you can earn a VIP profile by writing posts, answering questions and being involved in the Trulia Voices community.  Earn points, become VIP and you’ll receive extra exposure.

I think Trulia has a friendlier appearance and layout. I guess I would say that in some way Zillow is a “PC” and Trulia is a “Mac”.  Zillow is big, Trulia is beautiful.  Both are great tools for agents and without question should be utilized by Realtors actively involved in the retail part of real estate.  I personally use both Trulia and Zillow for our marketing and when my team carries 20-30 listings – we get lots of leads.  But even at times when you’re down on the number of your listings you will still get leads from your profile placements.

Both home search engines feature customer reviews, so don’t forget to ask for one after you close a deal.  And, of course, both Trulia and Zillow offer great mobile friendly versions of their sites.

ROI with Trulia and Zillow.  Everyone wants to know what the ROI is.  Let me answer with the words of Chris Smith, Chief Evangelist of Inman News (US top real estate news outlet): “What is the ROI of a phone call?  What is the ROI of your Facebook or Twitter activity?” They are rhetorical questions.  If you’re investing financially with these sites AND engaging with your clientele, the return will be more than satisfactory.  Trust me on this, I’m a living proof.  But before you invest, ask yourself some questions and do your MLS research on zip codes.  What’s the median sales price in the zip of your interest?  How many sales were there?  What type of ads will perk buyers’ interest?  What should I offer to my clients on the linked page?  Asking questions like that and then implementing will guarantee great results.

Read on Realtor.com and Homes.com in PART 2 (coming next week)

Home Search Sites Showdown! Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com – Who’s the Winner?

Home searching. What is the best tool?

As Compete.com shows it

Ok, so I did a little research for you.  I used Compete.com which is a web solution that offers statistics on websites’ traffic.  It’s not necessarily a 100% accurate, but quite reliable as we actually compared the stats of our own website traffic data with Compete’s.  Numbers were very close. USA’s west coast brings a lot of technology and web innovation to the market, even when it comes to Real Estate.  So it’s no wonder that hubs for both Realtor.com and Trulia.com are in California and Zillow.com is based in Seattle, Washington.

I would consider these 3 engines to be the leaders on the market when it comes to home searching on the web (of course, since you are on our site, please use our search tool!).  Realtor.com and Zillow.com go hand in hand and Trulia is slightly behind in the number of monthly visitors.  However, I suspect that there are actually more true home seeker hits on Trulia.com than on Zillow because many of the Zillow’s hits come from people who are not necessarily looking to buy a home but are simply checking on their current property’s value using a Zestimate.

Both Zillow and Trulia have Advice tabs and offer extensive buyer and seller information.  However, I see a little more creativity involved on Trulia because agents can create their own blogs.  The blog posts are then rated and as a result an agent can gain a committed following.  Agent blogging is also useful for buyers and sellers looking for a local and knowledgeable real estate professional.  While Zillow like Trulia has a Q&A section, answering questions is not as creative as writing your own blog content.

Zillow provides a Zestimate

Of course, Zillow is famous for offering a property Zestimate, which so many people absolutely love.  However, it may not always be accurate and the estimated value of your home may be off by as much as 30% one way or another.  But your home’s Zestimate is a great tool to keep an eye on the overall market trends.  One of the things I like about Trulia is that you can search homes based on price per sq.ft., which is very important in St Petersburg and Tampa Bay markets.  When it comes to mobile, I personally give props to the Trulia iPhone app which is very intuitive and user-friendly.

Trulia is becoming more popular

Realtor.com is of course backed by NAR, feeds from all MLSs, and is quite reliable as far as property status goes.  Both on Trulia and Zillow the agent is responsible for updating the status.  It is very frustrating for clients to call on an “Active” property only to find out it’s already sold or under contract.  All of these sites will give you most details on a property only if an agent has a featured profile which costs money.  But successful agents know the value of having a featured profile and showcasing featured listings and gladly invest in them.

Www.realestate.yahoo.com shows even more hits, but most of these, I believe, are real estate news hits and not home search hits.  Yahoo Real Rstate recently merged with Zillow.com, which is good for Zillow, I assume.  There are multiple other sites like RedFin.com and Homes.com which have their own edge but the visitor traffic is significantly lower.

Which one is your favorite home search site and why?  Please leave a comment below.