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)