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Posted by James Schiller on August 22, 2014
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I write this with a little trepidation because I must admit as an agent I do utilize some of the tools that Zillow has created, such as their widgets and their drip campaign feature as it’s a little quicker to set up than is our Charleston SC MLS. However, I think it’s time the public understands what exactly the major real estate listing  aggregators (being: Zillow, Trulia, & Realtor.com) a.ka. syndicators are really up to and why you as a user should take what they have  to say with a grain of salt. I am a licensed real estate broker in Charleston South Carolina (since 2005), and I once founded and owned a flourishing mortgage company for 9+ years to which I knew hundreds of real estate agents. So it’s not like I don’t know what I am talking about when I say real estate agents (most specifically Realtors) will ALWAYS be your BEST and MOST accurate place place for reliable factual data about sales, listings, and the like. Assuming they are good, intelligent ones. Let me explain. Zillow, Trulia, Movoto, & Realtor.com are not a real estate companies, nor are they in the business of selling real estate so what sense does it make to take their information as fact? They are tech companies, web companies, that make their profits by selling agents like myself ad space, or leads they derived directly from the listings we as agents put on MLS. What’s so bad about this is that they take advantage of the fact that most agents don’t have the deep pockets they do to compete with them in the online real estate search market. That’s not the worst part, as many have found out the information they distribute to the public a lot of the time is incorrect, and inaccurate at best.  Zillow is notorious for publishing outdated properties that are no longer on the market. I have had prospective clients call me and ask about a property only for me to tell them that home isn’t for sale. They say to me, “but I saw it on Zillow”.  I regularly receive inquires from prospective buyers who’ve seen this or that property for sale on Zillow or Trulia. When I look it up I find that the property is in escrow (under contract), or was recently sold, or was sold literally years earlier.  Not to mention that the sales data, sales trends, and graphs they show are on average 20% off from the actual market which ONLY agents have access to. Sure they are pulling in sold homes data, and listings data then using some algorithm to regurgitate it back out in the form of a graph or stats, but there are other market factors that they can’t take into account because they don’t have actual MLS and local market intel your agent would be analyzing. The MLS listings published by the syndicators are mixed in with inaccurate and unreliable data that the syndicators gather from other sources. As a result, the reputations of Realtors and the Realtor Multiple Listing Services are compromised   In closing, ONLY your local agent can provide you with the MOST reliable, and accurate understand of the market and how to negotiate your home’s sale price, and or your offer price. If you’re going to use aggregator websites like Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com, use them as a nice, pretty way of looking at homes only.. THEN call an agent (Realtor) for the facts.  
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