Reasons to Use Your Local Realtor Website Instead of Zillow

Bill Gassett's picture
Use Your Local Realtor Website Instead of Zillow

If you are buying a home in your local market, it can be tempting to look at Zillow or a similar general listings site for real estate information, but those nationwide sites are rarely ideal, because the listings aren't always up to date.

Sellstate Next Generation Realty realtor Fred Franks explained that "Here in the Ocala FL area, I have many customers calling me about buying a home in Ocala FL, but they always calling asking for information about homes that have already been sold." and he is not the only person who frequently sees such issues.

Often, it is a better choice to use a local realtor website, because:

1 - Listings on Local Sites are Real Time

Instead of wasting endless hours calling around to find that the property you're interested in is already taken, you can get listings that are updated frequently throughout the day, so you'll only see properties that are still available. No wasted time, no disappointment.

2 - You Get Up to Date, Targeted Market Information

Local real estate agent websites have local knowledge, so you can be confident that the geographic areas are more accurate, the listings are more descriptive, the search criteria you set will be honored (no looking for 'city center' and getting something miles out), and the listings are accurate, with a good idea of whether the property is 'good for kids' or 'ideal for commuters'. You'll get better pricing information and more choices on a local realtor's website.

3 - You Can Work One on One with Your Agent

The Realtor will be interested in working with you as a qualified buyer, and this means that you'll have someone on hand to handle your search for a property. Instead of having to do all the legwork yourself, you'll get to deal with someone who knows the company's portfolio intimately, and that will be able to find you a good deal, work with a wide range of customers, so you'll have the best chance of finding a good property.

4 - There Are More Detailed Listings and More Flexible Bids

Most people have a clear budget in mind for their home, and if you tell a local realtor what your budget and criteria of the type of home you want to buy. This is one of reasons to work with a local realtor. They are able to find you a good home for what need. Whereas a more national focused website could over or under-estimate values and waste your time.

5 - Work with a Real Estate Agent Directly, Not a Customer Service Line

Instead of having to call a customer service line, and deal with a different advisor every time you call, you will be able to work with the real estate manager for your area directly, and have a consistent point of contact all the way through the purchase process.

This might not seem like a big deal, but once you learn how much time it takes to complete a home purchase you will quickly come to understand the value of having one person to deal with. This one person will know what you are interested in and will have all of the knowledge about the purchase, so there will be less room for mistakes, and communication will be clearer.

Now, sometimes it is handy to have a national, general website such as Zillow. If you're looking further afield then it could help you to find a few potential properties. However once you find out who the realtors are in a given area, it makes sense to check what is on their sites.

The more general listing sites rely on a combination of data scraped from local sites, and manual submissions, but they don't scrape often because that could actually get them blacklisted from accessing the local sites. Not all local realtors use manual submissions on the national websites because they want people to come to them, rather than look somewhere that could send them towards their rivals.

You might think that it would take more time to check several local sites, but remember that you can sign up to a site that offers email updates, and this will make it easier to keep track of the listings.

Time to make a Decision

Moving is a big decision, and it pays to have as many options as possible. Dealing with a friendly local realtor will give you more chance to really delve into the options in your area, and find a home that you will love and that is a perfect fit for your family.

The local knowledge of the realtor will serve you well when it comes to finding places with the right amenities, and places that will work for your budget as well. Don't try to shoulder the burden of researching every suburb yourself - even if you're a local it takes time to figure everything out.

Whatever you do, don't fall for Trulia or Zillow home value estimates. The 'Zestimates' are often far, far away from the prices that are really realistic for the market in any given area. The algorithms are guidelines only, and there are a lot of things that they don't take into account.

This can lead to massive disappointment if you become invested in the idea of a place that Zillow thinks should be cheap. It can also leave you potentially willing to over-pay if you see a high quote on Zillow, because that will tarnish your idea of the value of the property before you even get around to viewing it.

Rather than relying on generic, algorithm based estimates or historic data that could well be out of date, go straight to someone who really knows the market, and deal with them directly. Zillow is nothing more than a middle-man in an area where there is no need for yet another step in the buying process, and you would be far better off cutting them out. The more people that do so, the less influence they will have, and hopefully we will go back to the good old days of real estate. Remember it’s always best to work with a local realty service! Someone local you know and trust!

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