Are real estate websites a waste of time?

Asked by MP, Jersey City, NJ Tue Sep 18, 2012

I've made a couple of calls and written a few emails to agents about apartments I was interested in, and my impression is that listings on Trulia/Zillow etc are meaningless. Most properties--even those listed for 1 day--are either already under contract or there's some insider thing in place already. They really aren't the real estate catalogues they're advertized to be.

Would some insider be kind enough to come out with the truth about these zombie listings to save buyers some time?

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Rich Homer, Agent, NAPLES, FL
Thu Oct 4, 2012
MP, you are spot on. This article needs circulated, posted and shouted out!…
1 vote
Jeanne Feeni…, Agent, Basking Ridge, NJ
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Listings are generally syndicated from the broker site - those listings are valid and assuming that the agent doesn't interrupt the syndicated info, should be current and reflect current status. Let me explain further....if the agent "touches" the listing then they must remember thereafter to update....and when they neglect to keep the data current, listing info can become stale which definitely dilutes the currency of the data.

What I suggest to my clients is to check with me on anything they find online of interest and I can quicky verifiy status on the MLS --- that is the ultimate source of current data.

There is one feed here on Trulia that I think is very distractive to consumers is the Realty Trac feed - which shows generally aerial views of properties that are in some state of delinquency. The number reflected is not a market value, nor are the properties necessarily available to purchase now or in the future. In this category, I say use your common sense. If you see a home that would normally sell in a community for $500,000 in this data for $25,000, then it falls squarely in the "too good to be true" category. I caution buyers not to get too distracted by this info. If/when they do become available for sale, they will be most likely listed in the MLS.

Do I think these websites are a waste of time - not at all. I find that Buyers especially enjoy searching on these sites, both for properties and infomation. But they do not replace a good agent who can be a great asset when are you getting closer to readiness to buy.

Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service, Unsurpassed Results
1 vote
John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Tue Sep 18, 2012
John Sacktig, Broker, East Brunswick, NJ Trulia is fed by the local MLS and is usually updated with listings the day of listing or the next. Active agents like myself, I list properties on the MLS.. Then list it to Trulia before the feed even happens.
Unfortunately, some agents just “renew” old listings to generate business. It happens. I see it happening and is probably what you are looking at.

What you need to do is stop trying to be self sufficient and get a good Realtor working for you. Then you will know exactly what is going on. I got it, sometimes doing it yourself is good.. me too, I understand it and I can’t stand most Realtors myself! But if you find someone like me.. you will be just fine! In this case you need to find a professional to help you.

Let me know, I am in Middlesex County but I worked in JC, sold two condos there… I know the area pretty well. Maybe I can help.. No, I am positive I can.

Oh, FYI- no one can give you information before it hits the market. That is nonsense.

John Sacktig
Broker/ Manager
Orange Key Realty
Direct: 732-213-1409
1 vote
laquasha - just saw this from last year. Uh. No. Your "brokerage" cannot offer information to anyone before it "hits the market" I would love to hear your explanation on what this "service" is....
Flag Thu Aug 29, 2013
in response to your fyi comment, that isnt nonsense at all. you may not understand how it operates but my brokerage does offer this service...
Flag Thu Oct 4, 2012
Karina Abad, Agent, Hoboken, NJ
Tue Sep 18, 2012
HI MP, your best bet is to call some agencies direct to ask for their current availability. Rentals move literally in minutes in our current market so it's no surprise that by the time you call the listings are gone. I don't believe there is any funny business going on, it's just the nature of the beast right now.

Best of luck to you!
1 vote
Joanne.despr…, Home Owner, Hadley, MA
Thu Aug 29, 2013
The description of my house is inaccurate -- both the number of bedrooms and the total number of rooms is wrong -- and I have tried to correct the facts several times, and have been told that my edits were accepted, but the description is still incorrect. My conclusion: real estate websites are a waste of time. They are wildly off the mark factually.
0 votes
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Please made note of this correction:
"Trulia does NOT receive data from the MLS or even In Truila own words, here's the scoop...
"Trulia receives this listing from ListHub, a third party listing provider. As part of Trulia's syndication agreement with ListHub, Trulia has agreed to limit data edits on core fields (e.g. price and status) specified by ListHub."
This means when a participating agent sees an obvious error such as status, price, number of rooms , square feet, you know, those things directly related to value, they can not be corrected! Agents can add meaningless stuff like the color of the carpet.
The byproduct of data for which there is not accountability is consumers spending their precious time pursuing the illusion of homes for sale/rent, and chasing the vapors of home sold long ago.
Your source of reliable, timely, accurate, relevant, comprehensive, accountable data is the local multiple listing service. Contact and agent or broker to receive FREE access.

Best of success to you,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
0 votes
David Leonard, Agent, Jersey City, NJ
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Yes they are. They are good for building context, but yes, their goal is to keep you on the site for as long as possible so you'll call one of us who appears on the website thus allowing them to be successful linking clients to agents and being able to charge us more. To this end, they show listings that are already sold, under contract, etc. In that they harvest the data off the real MLS and usually have new postings in one day, they can obviously see when one goes under contract as well, but somehow don't seem to post that very frequently. Use the websites for building context, but they are a terrible way to buy a house. This is a huge investment on your part - a buyer's agent costs you nothing and no, you don't save any money if you don't have one. in fact, you'll end up seeing fewer properties and paying more. Your boss wouldn't ask you to buy $500,000 worth of stuff for the company that you don't really know anything about would he? No. You shouldn't do that with the company's money, and you surely shouldn't do it with yours either. My website actually does harvest all the data nightly from the MLS and posts when things are under contract. As well, it has everything that has sold in the last six months or so - one solid list you can read down. Also, somewhere it has an article about why you need a buyer's agent. You should probably read the testimonials as well

David Leonard
Weichert Realtors
718 915 2855
0 votes
Maria Cipoll…, Agent, Coral Springs, FL
Wed Oct 3, 2012
98 percent of consumers go to the internet first, when looking to gather information on a home for sale. On lines websites make it easy to watch the market and get a feel of different neighboorhoods and homes.
But this websites can not eliminate o replace the real estate agents. Ideally, this sites are designated to give you information regarding the properties that you select, save time and even help you to find the right real estate professional that can give more accurate details in those propeties. A few years ago, you did not have access to a world originally reserved for a real estate elite.

Best of Luck,

Maria Cipollone

Century 21 Tenace
0 votes
Jonathan Fac…, Other Pro, Bridgewater, NJ
Wed Oct 3, 2012
Agreed with all below. The best and most reliable source is the MLS, and this is where you would need to work with a Realtor. If you were looking for investment properties, you can work with a Realtor or a wholesaler, someone who essentially scouts for fix and flip/buy and hold properties. You need to speak with Realtors and/or investors, that will be a surer way to get the properties you are looking for.


0 votes
Marsha Bowen…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Wed Sep 19, 2012
You are better off working with a real estate professional for more accurate information. I understand your frustrations as I had two potential buyers reach out to me with interest in two properties that were not even on the market. They ended up being pre-foreclosure properties and not for sale.
0 votes
Allison Fish…, Agent, Ann Arbor, MI
Tue Sep 18, 2012
The MLS is your best bet for getting up-to-the-day listings. Trulia and Zillow "feed" off of those listings but are delayed by real-life-events such as people making offers.

You need to hire a Realtor that will set you up to receive active listings everyday. Zillow and Trulia are wonderful resources, but can be delayed in information.
0 votes
Laquita Baez, , New Jersey
Tue Sep 18, 2012
Rentals in JC are flying off the market right now. Alot of action going on there.
I can set you up on my client preferred program that will alert you of listings BEFORE they hit the market and for the other listings the same day they hit the market so that you are not wasting time browsing different websites.....

Laquita Baez
Licensed Realtor in NJ and GA
Weichert Realtors
0 votes
Linda S. Cef…, Agent, Franklin, WI
Tue Sep 18, 2012
As Karina said - and she is from your area - rentals are moving very quickly especially if they are a great value. Rents are high in my area as well. In many cases, you can actually own a home for less than you would pay in rent right now.

Websites can be a valuable tool in helping you see what is out there and comparing properties and rental units, but it is always best to work one-to-one with an agent that represents only your needs and interests. You'll be far better off in the long run.
0 votes
Andres Garcia, Agent, Hoboken, NJ
Tue Sep 18, 2012
Trulia and Zillow are aggregator sites. They pull information from throughout the web. Sometime the information is fresh, sometimes it a few days old. Either way, it's not always updated on these sites when the home is sold or rented. The most reliable source of information for listings is an agent, through MLS updates, a site like or an agency site (such as that pulls information straight from the MLS. While Trulia and Zillow serve a purpose, because of the way they get their listings you will often find many duplicate, outdated, or invalid listings.

I hope this helps. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Andres Garcia - Sales Associate, CDPE - RE/MAX Gold Coast Realty
56 Newark Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030 - Direct: 201 795-5200 x340 - Mbl: 201 677-2211
0 votes
Helene Jeane…, Agent, Metuchen, NJ
Tue Sep 18, 2012
Trulia and Zillow unfortunately both seem to not update quickly, in fact I've noticed it could be months before something is updated. They do have their strong suits but timely information is not it. You would fare better to use one of the following:
0 votes
J, Renter, New York
Tue Sep 18, 2012
Its either one of the 2

Fact = New York market moves very Fast and agents cant keep up with EVERYTHING they post


They are good old bait and switch

(really hard to tell which is which)
0 votes
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