May 27, 2014 — by: Karl Johnson

RealestateFinding or selling a home can be a difficult task. In the past, people had to rely on real estate agents to find houses for them. That has been changing over the last 10 years. Buyers can now search for homes on their own without an agent by using sites like Redfin and Zillow. Wikipedia and the Internet has forever changed the way we think of the encyclopedia. Redfin and Zillow are changing how people buy and sell homes.

Redfin and Zillow list homes that are on MLS. In the past, only real estate agents had access to the MLS service. Giving the buyer full access to the MLS system has forever changed the real estate industry since buyers can now search for homes on their own. Both sites show homes on a map and have filters for hiding homes without the right features. They also both have iOS apps for the iPhone and iPad. The iPhone version is great since it allows users to get directions to the house or search for a house while they are out exploring an area of interest. Users can also get more information about a house for sale that they may have just driven by. These two web sites have given prospective buyers an incredible amount of information that in the past they could only get from an agent.

While the two web sites are competing with each other, they each have their advantages and disadvantages. Zillow’s filter tools are easier to use and save. Zillow alerts users of any updates to the filtered search with saved searches. The same is true for the iOS app. The apps can also notify the users of updates of these same searches. Zillow has Zestimate, which estimates about how much the home is worth. It uses Zillow’s proprietary algorithm to make the estimate based on homes in the area. While it is not always accurate, it is another tool buyers can use.

Redfin also has good filters, but they are harder to use, especially on the iOS app. Redfin really shines in their house updates. New house pictures, and updates come up on Redfin a day or two faster. That can make a huge difference in a seller’s markets. Redfin also has more information about each house, such as property details, sales history, and other features.

It is best to use both sites when searching for a new home. Redfin is better when going to their website from a computer. With more information, Redfin allows users to review houses better before a showing. Zillow actually has a better iOS app than a website. The saved searches section is easy to use and makes it easy to see any updates that happen quickly. Using both sites allows users to makes the best decision.

Both tools have changed the way buyers search for homes. These two sites will also continue to change the way buyers and sellers interact in the real estate market. Both sites not only list MLS homes, but also “for sale by owner” homes. They also have a category “Make me move” homes which are not on the market yet, but can move with the right offer. Watch for more changes coming to the real estate market with sites like these.

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