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Realtor.com v Zillow.com: Where to Start

Realtor.com v. Zillow.com

Number of Listings

Realtor.com uses the Multiple Listing Service to update its website. It is my first go to because it will be the most up to date. It prevents the heartache of finding an excellent opportunity only to learn that there is a contingent offer already. As you may know, once there is a contingent offer on a house, a realtor is prohibited from showing you the house unless the deal falls through. Whether that house is worth looking at again is situational. Sometimes deals fall through because of the buyer’s inability to obtain financing, but others the house failed inspection in some major way and the two sides cannot come to an agreement. It is often a better idea just to move on when that happens.

One key disadvantage of Realtor.com is that it is reliant on realtors. From their website, a REALTOR® is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of REALTORS®, the largest trade group in the country. That means that you will not find for sale by owner homes on Realtor.com. Zillow on the other hand will show homes for sale by owner. It will also show foreclosures and pre-foreclosures before a lot of other websites. I also like the ease of navigation of the website.

Mortgage Calculators

There is a significant difference between the mortgage calculators. Let’s take an example of a house listed for $199,000.00 in Solon, Ohio. Zillow estimates a 30-year mortgage on the property with 20% to cost $756.00 a month. Realtor estimates the same type of mortgage to cost $1,088.00 per month! What happened?

The interest rates are the same, but Realtor also factored in property taxes. In some areas, that can account for a large chunk of change. Zillow also has a feature that allows you to add this cost if you would like, but also to adjust for things like HOA fees or Private Mortgage Insurance. Not being aware of that simple button; however, can set up expectations for failure when you’re setting your budget.

Additional Features

  • Zillow often has older pictures from prior listings that may not appear on Realtor. Simply click on the picture and scroll through

I find Zillow slightly easier to navigate

Realtor makes it easier to find the Parcel Number for your house. This saves time when going to the County Recorder’s site.

I think Realtor has a better comparable homes feature.

Which Is Better?

I would say neither and use both. They are two different tools and you should recognize the differences when to use each. For ease of communicating with a Realtor and avoiding that sinking feeling when you learn a property already has a contingent offer, it is hard to beat Realtor. Zillow can be a better tool when you’re looking for more listings and pictures. Either way, both are great tools when you start looking for a house.

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