ARG Is Not All Wrong About Zillow and Trulia

A while back I wrote a post in reaction to ARG ’s YouTube video on listing syndication.

My immediate reaction to video was wrong about Zillow and Trulia.  Jim Abbott has some excellent points, his aim was just a bit off including

I wrote a series of posts defending the posting of data as many places as possible.  Bloggers all over the country chimed in with the pros and cons of listing syndication and if Zillow, Trulia, and other 3rd party syndication sites are a good think for the real estate consumer or a bad thing.

After leaving a rather lengthy response on Kris Berg’s blog with my first thoughts on these 3rd party sites I got a rather heated response from Kris about my perspective.  You can read her post and my response and then her response on her blog.  A few days later Kris wrote another post called Zillow and Unicorns.  The article took a more analytical look at the 3rd party syndication issue and the beef that many real estate agents and companies have with them.  I have a great deal of respect for Kris Berg and felt I needed to dig a little deeper into the issue.

Due to my consulting and management duties I don’t list or sell that much real estate, unless it is a valued Client or a referral from such. Because of that I am not taking calls about long ago sold listings, possible foreclosures, and inaccurate data.  I fully understand that this discussion has many layers and perspectives and I thought it deserved another look.

So yesterday, I took some time to look around the web and do some searching.  What better place to start than a search of downtown San Diego, which is the 92101 zip code.  The majority of listings in 92101 are of attached nature, but I did not add any more search criteria other than for sale, 92101, and active on the market.

Sandicor, our regional MLS system reported a total of 279 matches.  While information may not be as quickly reported on sale pendings and solds, this is about as accurate a count of homes for sale through the multiple listing system.

First let me compare search results which has been unfairly lumped into the 3rd party syndicators bucket. is a listing aggregator, not a listing syndicator.  They have relationships with local MLS’s across the country to access data which is updated frequently and is very close to what shows in Sandicor MLS.

I would say that is an acceptable difference in results of 9 homes.

Now on to the third party syndicator sites.

Since Zillow seems to be the lighting rod for most of the controversy I did our same 92101 search for active homes for sale.

Zillow reports 486 homes!

That’s a big difference from the actual amount of homes for sale in 92101!  I always knew there was inaccuracy from the 3rd party sites, I didn’t realize what a big problem it really was.

Zillow had over 20 pages of listings on my search, of those over 100 were from  I have never seen such a blatant bait and switch pitch for paying for this service.  Trulia by the way uses a similar company called RealtyTrac.

Within the industry it is wildly known that while a notice of default (NOD) is filled  it may take up to 18 months or more before the actual foreclosure date and sale, if ever.

And of course if the seller pays up the back payments and become current or sells the property as a short sale these properties will never come to market.  If the homeowner goes after a short sale it will bein the MLS most cases, and if it sells at auction the buyer (investors) need to bring in cash!  Not exactly the environment for a first time buyer chasing down and competing with the cash investors on the risky Business of buying foreclosures.  By the way 50% savings from market is completely laughable, much like the army jeep for $100.00.

The easy way to spot these foreclosure listings since the don’t normally include an address or unit number.  Also on the right hand side of the screen in small font there identified by

Here is how the detail of the possible foreclosure property looks below:

Clicking on the address or pretty much any of the small bit of information will take you to the following screen:

Further down the page are about as many calls to actions as I’ve seen on a single webpage!

Digging around in the underbelly of this issue is pretty alarming.

This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the vastly over inflated listings with sold listings being advertised as active, single party listings, agent load, postlets, and for sale by owner listings.  Stay tuned for more soon.



5 thoughts on “ARG Is Not All Wrong About Zillow and Trulia

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