Your local MLS has the most accurate and most comprehensive listing data available. But this isn't how the general public sees it. The real estate consumer is turning to Trulia, Zillow and other data aggregators for what it views as the latest and greatest listing data. Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, there's a growing perception that these two internet giants are the best places to go for local real estate information.
The data aggregators are popular because they make price history, days on market, and other key listing data available. Accurate or not, the information on Trulia and Zillow provides answers to some very basic questions. You don't need to call or email a real estate agent to get your information. Those days are long gone. All you need to do is go to your smart phone, tablet, or computer - and Zillow and Trulia take care of the rest. It's all about instant gratification, and the data aggregators serve this need very well.
Things could be different. Your local local real estate company could offer an appealing online alternative to the big national data aggregators. With a few basic changes in MLS practice, every local agent and every local brokerage could offer a comprehensive website that gives consumers what they need and Zillow and Trulia a run for their money.
4 Necessary Changes
MLS boards can help real estate brokerages, agents and consumers by implementing 4 simple changes. Once these changes are in place, every real estate consumer will be able to "shop local" online, knowing she has the most comprehensive and most accurate property information available on the web.
Change 1: Add sold listings to agent websites.
Consumers want to be knowledgeable in their own local real estate market, and having easy access to sold listing data is an important part of building that knowledge. The South Central Wisconsin MLS is one of the more progressive MLS boards which allows brokerages and agents to publish sold listings to their websites. Trulia and Zillow have been publishing sold listings for years, but unfortunately there are many MLS boards which don't make sold listings available.
Change 2: Disclose the accepted offer status.
Publishing the accepted offer status provides a huge benefit to the real estate consumer. Home buyers don't want to waste their time researching properties that already have an accepted offer. They want to focus their time on properties that are still available for sale. Once again, the South Central Wisconsin MLS is ahead of the curve compared to most other MLS boards. The SCWMLS makes the accepted offer status available to agent websites, but there are still plenty of MLS boards that do not. Note: neither Trulia nor Zillow disclose the accepted offer status.
Change 3: Publish price and transaction history.
Most MLS boards don't make price and transaction history available to brokerage and agent websites, but there are many other places consumers can go to view this information. As an example, let's take a look at how the price and transaction history for 2214 Clark St are displayed across 5 national websites.
Here's the price history for this listing on Trulia. Trulia shows when this property was most recently sold. It also shows the price history for the current listing.
Zillow also shows the most recent sale and the price history for the current listing.
Movoto doesn't show the most recent sale, but it does show the price history as well as the accepted offer status for the current listing.
Realtor.com shows the most recent sale and the price history for the current listing.
Homes.com doesn't show the most recent sale, but it does show the price history for the current listing.
Every MLS board has the price and transaction history stored for every listing in its master database. Unfortunately, most member brokerages and agents can't make this information available via their IDX listing feeds. This is one of the biggest reasons consumers choose the data aggregator websites over local agent sites. Consumers expect to view a property's price and transaction history online. Right now, your local real estate agent can't serve this need.
Change 4: Publish the listing date and days on market.
The listing date and days on market are critical pieces of information for home buyers, and all of the 5 websites above publish this information. Every MLS board also has this basic information stored in its master system, but in most cases local brokerages and agents aren't allowed to make this information available via their listing feeds.
When buyers search for properties online, they often want to focus their search on the properties that have just entered the market. Zillow is one website that makes this very easy to do. For example, users of Zillow can go to the website's Madison condo page and view all Madison condos for sale with all of the newest listings automatically displayed at the top.
More about Trulia and Zillow Data Quality
The data quality on local MLS websites is far superior to the data found on Trulia and Zillow. One study by Redfin found portal sites like Trulia and Zillow showed only 80% of the agent listed homes. Of those homes that were listed as active on the portal sites, 36% were actually no longer available for sale. New listings were also slow to make it to the portal sites. On average, listings took much longer to appear on portal sites compared to local MLS sites.
The listing data offered by your local MLS is also much more complete than the data offered by Trulia and Zillow. View a listing on one of the portal sites and you'll get the price, size, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and a few other pieces of information. View the same listing on a local MLS site and you'll get a much more in-depth view of the property.
Local MLS websites offer some key advantages over Trulia and Zillow, but the local boards need to make sold listings, the accepted offer status, days on market, and the price and transaction history available. Consumers view all of this information as an important part of their home search. Until these pieces are added, Zillow and Trulia will be viewed as the sources of truth, not your local MLS.
This article is published courtesy of: Dan Miller, REALTOR Mad City Dream Homes & RE/MAX Preferred