These days, you can get almost anything from, or through, the internet: jobs, apparel, mobile devices, pets, personal services, motor vehicles, and even heavy equipment. So it should not come as any surprise that even real estate and similar properties should also be listed online.

Real Estate Classifieds: An Overview Of The World’s Largest Players

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In this article, you will first find about 1) why to use online real estate classifieds at all, and then about 2) the world’s largest real estate classifieds.

WHY USE ONLINE REAL ESTATE CLASSIFIEDS?

In the past, those who are hunting for homes or properties had two avenues available to them: browse the property listings in the classifieds section of the dailies or ad publications, and go directly to a real estate agency and enlist the help of qualified real estate agents in finding a house, an apartment, or even a piece of land for them.

Online real estate classifieds have certainly become more active in recent years, with more and more people preferring to take their real estate transactions online, for various reasons.

  • Online real estate classifieds is an inexpensive way to look for a property, or for sellers and lessors to list their properties. In fact, many online property listing websites offer this service for free, while sellers have to pay a considerable sum to list their house or property in a newspaper of local or nationwide circulation. The listing can even run for a long time, until the property has been sold or leased. In the case of newspapers, it will only be for a limited period, and they will only let you run the ad again when you pay another fee for the succeeding period. You are also, in effect, your very own real estate agent, allowing you to save the money you would have had paid for the services of an agent.
  • Quick and easy. Listing your property online is easy and quick, since these websites often have a template where all you have to do is fill in some details and upload photos for the ad to be completed. The listing is also quick to appear on the website – almost instantly. You no longer have to wait for a slot to open up in newspaper classifieds for your listing to finally appear.
  • Users who are looking for a property to buy or lease can easily find what they are looking for just by using the real estate classifieds’ search functionalities. This certainly saves a lot of time, since it dispenses with the hours spent poring over listings of irrelevant properties until you find what you are looking for.
  • Faster communication. Communication between potential sellers and buyers is much faster and easier when done online. Once a property has been spotted by a prospective buyer, he can immediately contact the seller and make the necessary inquiries.
  • More leeway. Sellers find themselves limited with the amount of details about the property they are selling or renting out if they use a newspaper, since it would mean having to pay a higher fee. This is not a limitation in most online real estate classifieds, since many of them even allow up to 5 photos of the property uploaded, with the seller able to provide as much information as they want about the property.
  • Broader audience. Online real estate classifieds have a wider reach than local publications, because it is possible for prospective buyers clear across the country to look for property in your locale.

THE WORLD’S LARGEST REAL ESTATE CLASSIFIEDS

Real estate classifieds have increasingly become competitive, with more and more websites cropping up, claiming to be the best and most reliable real estate listings service providers. Let us take a look at the biggest and most popular real estate websites in the world today.

Zillow (www.zillow.com)

Zillow is certainly one of the largest online real estate website today, having the most expansive database on homes and properties across the United States. This is, in large part, due to its partnership with Yahoo! Real Estate in 2009, followed by key acquisitions, including that of real estate shopping platform Buyfolio and real estate and rental listings company HotPads, among others.

Zillow users have access to many functionalities and features once they log into the site. Some of the things that users can expect from Zillow are listed below.

  • Large database. Zillow boasts one of the largest real estate database online, with information on more than 110 million homes across the country. It also serves the rental market, or those who are looking for a space or home to rent, instead of buying outright.
  • Value estimates and changes. Users can get value estimates from Zillow, and even look into possible changes in value of homes over a specific period of time.
  • Price comparisons. Users shopping for homes – particularly those who are sticking to a limited budget – would like to compare prices on homes within a geographical area.
  • Detailed information. Aside from the basic information on the property, more details are provided to users, including aerial views.
  • Expert customer support. The website has a group or community of experts that provide advice and assistance, particularly when it comes to answering queries on real estate. This is via the feature aptly called “Zillow Advice”.

On November 2015, Zillow Group joined forces with Google Compare for Mortgages, which further widened the reach of Zillow as one of the largest real estate media networks in the United States. This allows Zillow users real-time access to up-to-date mortgage rates, as well as ratings and reviews on lenders, enabling them to make better and more informed business and financial decisions, particularly when it comes to real estate investments.

Trulia (www.trulia.com)

Real estate is a dynamic and complex market, and Trulia came in with the objective of simplifying the home search process for everyone. Since its founding in 2004, it has grown to become one of the largest online residential real estate websites for real estate professionals and private individuals looking to sell, buy or rent properties.

Trulia makes use of its website and mobile apps to deliver various products and services to its users. Aside from providing a listing of homes for sale and rent, Trulia also offers the following:

  • Information on price trends. Trulia makes use of listings and public data to provide information on price trends of homes over a specific time period.
  • Price comparisons. Trulia also enables users to compare the prices of homes within the same city, zip code, or region.
  • Crime maps. By teaming up with companies such as EveryBlock.com, SpotCrime.com and CrimeReports.com, Trulia is able to provide crime statistics comparisons and curated crime maps in most metropolitan areas in the United States. This is a good feature for users who prefer to buy property in safe neighborhoods or areas with low to no crimes.
  • Detailed listings. Aside from basic information on the properties listed, the listings also include other useful information, such as local schools, hospitals and public facilities and amenities within the surrounding area of the property being looked into.
  • Agent directory. The website also provides a list or directory of real estate agents and brokers, mortgage brokers or lenders, builders, developers and property managers within a specific city or state.
  • Real estate professionals tools. Real estate professionals are also assisted by Trulia when it comes to creating more real estate leads and meeting more homebuyers, so they can grow their business and build their own online brand. Real estate professionals can also avail of the services of a sales consultant from Trulia to create an advertising campaign.
  • Commute or transit maps. Trulia has also teamed up with Interactive Commuter and Transit maps to display the commute or driving times to and from the property.

Trulia also happens to belong to the Zillow Group after an acquisition deal was completed on on July 2014.

Yahoo! Homes (www.homes.yahoo.com)

Also known as Yahoo! Real Estate, Yahoo! Homes is essentially a platform that offers shopping services for real estate properties. Also powered by Zillow, it has built itself up as an online resource for buying, selling, renting, and even improving a home.

So what can you expect from using Yahoo! Homes as your home search classifieds?

  • Large database. Yahoo! has partnered with Zillow, which provides the real estate listings within the United States. That means it taps into one of the largest real estate networks in the country, giving consumers more results when they do a search on Yahoo! Homes.
  • Easy and quick ad creation. Sellers and home owners can submit an ad by simply filling in the template provided for posting a real estate listing. It only takes a few hours after submission for the ad to appear, and will run until such time that Zillow removes it, which is basically when it has already been sold or rented out.
  • Easy and hassle-free search function. Looking for real estate is made easy, since Yahoo! Homes made categorizations clear. Users can filter their search accordingly of properties that are for sale or for rent. There are also listings for foreclosures and new homes for those who are more particular about their searches.
  • Home Improvement. Aside from just selling, buying, renting or leasing homes, Yahoo! Homes has another functionality for home improvement. It also provides useful tips on home design, makeovers, and decorations.

Realtor.com (www.realtor.com)

The slogan of Realtor.com is “real estate in real time”, specifically for buyers, sellers and renters of homes.

Realtor.com has proven itself to be one of the major players in real estate classifieds, displaying rapid growth compared to its competitors since it was launched in 1996. In fact, comScore recognized Realtor.com as the “fastest growing online real estate service provider in the first half of 2015”. Here are some of the reasons why.

  • Large listings database. Realtor.com has collaborated with more than 800 multiple listing service providers, resulting in millions of reliable listings or advertisements for for-sale properties.
  • Updated listings. Realtor.com prides itself on being able to provide the most comprehensive and accurate information at any time, claiming that more than 90% of all listings on the site is updated every 15 minutes. This way, users will not have to worry about wasting their time on properties that are no longer available but are still listed on the site.
  • Website and mobile experience. The brains behind Realtor.com made it available in both platforms, giving more users a more convenient and user-friendly website and mobile customer experience.
  • Useful tools for real estate professionals. Professionals in the real estate field that are looking to grow their business can take advantage of the many tools – mostly free – provided by Realtor.com. These include the premier listing indicator ListHub, the real estate marketing software TopProducer, the online real estate transaction management software Reesio, and the lead consolidation and response software FiveStreet.

RedFin (www.redfin.com)

Although the company was founded in 2004, it officially launched its home buying and selling services in 2006, mostly focusing on residential real estate. It went on to win the Seattle 2.0 “Best Startup” Award in 2010 and was named in 2012 by Business Insider as one of the Digital 100: World’s Most Valuable Private Tech Companies.

Homebuyers and homesellers choose RedFin for a variety of reasons:

  • Lower listing fee. In order to submit an ad on real estate websites, sellers are often required to pay a listing fee. Most sites charge around 3% as listing fee. RedFin, however, charges only 1.5%, which is considerably lower than what other sites charge.
  • Reliable listings. Redfin operates mainly as a brokerage business, unlike other real estate classifieds that earn primarily from lead generation and advertising. It has its own real estate agents, who make or broker the sale, and brings in the money. This means that they will be able to pay more attention to the quality of listings, such that scams and bogus advertisements are eliminated.
  • Highly reliable agents. This is because RedFin directly employs its agents on a salary, instead of commission, basis. Transparency is also encouraged, since agent reviews are readily available on the site.

Homes.com (www.homes.com)

Aside from real estate marketing and media services, Homes.com also provides other online marketing services such as reputation management, brand advertising, and lead generation. It initially started as a website for Homes and Land Publishing way back in 1993, until it finally evolved into a real estate classifieds site.

When it comes to traffic market share, Homes.com is not far behind Trulia and Zillow. Here are some of the reasons why this real estate classifieds command such high patronage from users.

  • Updated price estimates. Thanks to its Home Values channel, Homes.com is able to provide real-time automated estimates of the prices and values of homes and properties, as well as area demographics and details. Users can also request for home estimates.
  • Advanced and easy search features. Homes.com comes with advanced search filters that facilitate quick and easy searching of properties. All prospective buyers should do is to enter parameters such as specific property features, price and price ranges, property type, and location, and the database will do the work. It also boasts GPS search functionality for easier and more accurate locating of properties in nearby locations.
  • Availability in both Android and iOS devices. The mobile app of Homes.com was designed for use by both Android and iOS users.

ApartmentGuide (www.apartmentguide.com)

Specializing in rental of apartments, ApartmentGuide.com is all about connecting “apartment consumers to their ideal place to live”. Not all users are out to look for a place to buy, and not all sellers are planning to completely part with their property. Their option is to rent an apartment or, on the part of homeowners, have other people rent their property for a specific period of time. Instead of having their listings buried under the weight of many for-sale ads, they find it better to advertise on a classifieds site that focuses on apartment rentals.

There are many reasons why many prefer to head over to ApartmentGuide.com instead of the larger real estate classifieds sites.

  • Superior search capability. ApartmentGuide.com features a multi-platform search function, so finding what they are looking for takes very little time and difficulty. Indicate the desired location, as well as the type of apartment and number of beds or rooms available. You can also specify a price range, and indicate special requirements, such as air-conditioning, amenities and distance from various facilities and public services. Even pet owners can specify in their search apartments that allow pets.
  • User-friendly interface. Users find the site easy to navigate, with a lot of mobile and social media tools and solutions they can use to improve their overall user experience. It also works on mobile, since it has applications developed for iOS. Other tools that users find very useful include the Social Media Manager and Reputation Monitor.
  • Moving suggestions. The site’s commitment to users does not end once the transaction has been closed between the homeowner and the renter. The latter can also ask for assistance in finding qualified movers within the area to help them move into their new apartment and get settled in.

These are only a few of the most active and popular real estate classifieds that you can find online. With the way real estate websites are being launched, improved and enhanced, there is no doubt that there will be more choices in the future. This is actually a good thing, as it gives more sellers, buyers, dealers and real estate professionals more platforms to find what they are looking for.

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Grant Simmons (@simmonet)

Thank you for the mention, Anastasia!

As a 'David' in an industry of 'Goliaths' we're often overlooked as a contender, when in fact our audience growth and engagement exceeded many of our competitors in 2015.

We achieved that through a continued focus on consumers & agents, a transparent approach to our industry forums, and a drive to 'delight' users on our portal, mobile and applications.

We also had some fun!

Check out our haunted app (http://www.haunted.homes) and our city wars hat tip to Star Wars (http://www.citywars.io), because buying a home and finding the information to empower the buyer, shouldn't be boring!

Cheers

Grant Simmons

VP of Search Marketing, Homes.com