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Real Truth About Online Real Estate Listings

Posted by James Schiller on May 22, 2016
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We’ve all seen the Zillow & commercials with the couple home searching on their tablet or pc looking at maps and school data all to make you feel warm and fuzzy. However, how accurate is that laptop-house-for-sale-sign-300x287data and how truthful are they being? I hate to be the barer of bad news, but it’s all just smoke and mirrors. Really, trust me. I know because I am not only a full time real estate broker, but also a full time web marketing and development consultant. I did an article last year about how truly inaccurate Zillow really is and most aggregators of RETs IDX data more times than not are inaccurate at best.

Recently, I have gotten even more annoyed with their more current campaigns claiming to have the “most up to date” listings. Their commercials are always bragging about how their listings are pulled
directly from the MLS every 15 mins some every 30 mins, so it’s the “most accurate” and “up to date” listings. All the while trying to convince the consumer user to use their sites vs others boombecause others just aren’t as accurate and somehow have stale listings. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and is borderline false. Let me explain.


This website you’re looking at for example is literally as if you’re looking at my local MLS board’s property listings and just as if I were to log into my MLS platform from the real estate board. As you look through homes in my website here, search around with queries, you are looking at the most current properties on my local Charleston South Carolina MLS. Those properties are coming into my websites via an IDX (Internet Data eXchange) feed directly from our MLS here in Charleston SC (CTAR) realtor board and our board only refreshes their server’s data twice a day, or once every 12 hours. Although Trulia, Zillow, and and even other agent websites with vendor provided services tout 15 or 30 minute refreshes, it’s really just hogwash. Their servers might really refresh their database that often, but unless the board is also doing that (which they aren’t), then everyone, every realtor, every real estate agent with property listings, every real estate website has the same exact information (assuming their servers are grabbing at least twice a day as well).


I talked to the CEO of one of the nation’s best RETS IDX WordPress Plugin vendors: “typically we only set that rate for boards with lot of users because of the additional load it puts on server, the thing is, most of our [MLS] boards update twice a day because that is all the board itself updates and some boards restrict when we can pull data to early morning hours anyway. So basically they [Zillow, Realtor, other Vendor services for Realtors] have a loop that pulls the data and it takes about 30 minutes to run through that loop however, that data may not be updated but twice a day. It’s been my experience that most MLS boards around the country work in the same way. Primarily it’s a technology limitation thing. No matter what they want you to believe”.  For them to make that claim that they (unlike others) have the most fresh listings simply is false. It’s as fresh as anyone else’s.


The MLS board has the power over Zillow as pointed out by Furthermore, it’s my contention and most Realtors in the know, argue that going through your local agent will ALWAYS be the best place for anything pertaining to real estate vs a tech company that is simply their trying to grab the users contact information and sell it to real estate agents. Zillow, Trulia, and are not real estate companies at all, they are just web technology businesses.


In short, Do your local agents a favor and stop using them. 

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