Trulia and Zillow are awesome if you are interested in getting some general real estate information. If you want to see what prices have been doing over the last five or ten years on Marco Island, these big websites can give you a pretty good idea of what transpired. If you want to reach some random agent that probably knows nothing about the market, these sites will deliver that too. But, if you want the good stuff - the real timely information you need in order to make a good decision, you might want to bypass these Goliaths.
Big real estate websites are ubiquitous these days. If you search for anything real estate related on Google or Yahoo or Bing, you're going to find that Zillow and Trulia are ranked high in the results. The sites are easy to navigate and full of information. The problem is the accuracy of the information. It's questionable at best.
Almost daily we at BuyMarco.com will have a customer ask us about a listing they saw on Trulia. More often than not, when I investigate the listing, it isn't even for sale. That's right. It's not available. It sold a month or two ago or hasn't even been for sale in years. This, of course, makes the process of finding a home very difficult. Why does this happen? Well, Trulia doesn't have access to the real data. The Marco Island Board of Realtors does not distribute the data to these sindicates, so who knows where they are getting it. The bottom line is the information they deliver is damn near worthless and probably even harmful.
The timeliness of their info is bad enough, but their property valuations are totally useless. I'll give you an example. We recently listed a fantastic home on Marco Island. It's priced at $349,000 and is a great pool-home in paradise. While this price represents good value for the buyer, it's not $200,000 low. Trulia estimates the home's value at $546,000 - 57% more. Most of us will recognize that this is a glitch in Trulia's valuation methodology, but what if the difference were only $40,000 or $50,000? I think most buyers would be inclined to include Trulia's appraisal in their decision-making process to some degree. This is bad.
For the real deal, you need to use a website that delivers the actual MLS data. This can be tricky to find. If in doubt, contact the website and ask. Next, ignore any big website's automatic appraisals. These things are useless. They vary wildly and will only mislead you. Assessing the value of property is easy. As soon as you tour two properties with a competent Realtor, you'll be impressed with your ability to value property - even homes in unfamiliar areas.
Successful buying or selling, especially vacation property in another town, requires due diligence. You need to collect as much data as possible to make an informed decision. BuyMarco.com was built to connect you directly to the Marco Island MLS. We are one of two or three agents on the island that deliver this information to you. It is updated daily with the real data.
So, while Trulia and Zillow are awesome for some things, when it's time to get serious, visit BuyMarco.com.