Study Finds Gaps in Online Listing Information

October 4, 2012

Some home shoppers may not be getting a full or accurate picture when they view listing information on some popular real estate Web sites, suggests a study conducted by the WAV Group on behalf of Redfin. 

The study evaluated the accuracy of information contained in more than 6,000 listings among 33 ZIP codes on five sites: Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and two regional real estate brokerages — Windermere and Long & Foster. 

The Redfin study found that 36 percent of the agent-listed homes shown as active listings on Zillow and 37 percent of those on Trulia were no longer for sale on the local multiple listing service. 

“Zillow and Trulia do not dispute that their listings have some gaps and inaccuracies, though they dispute some of the particulars of the Redfin study,” The New York Times reports. “There’s a simple reason they don’t have everything their rivals do: Neither of them belongs to the local MLSs, which provide the most complete set of agent-listed properties.” 

Zillow and Trulia are not real estate brokerages. Real estate brokers can provide electronic feeds or add their listings so they appear on the real estate sites. As such, some agents that do provide feeds to the sites don’t take listings down quickly after the property sells, says Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin. 

Trulia says it is forming stronger relationships with brokers so that it can improve the accuracy and completeness of its listing information, according to The New York Times. Zillow said it was making a similar effort. 

“There is no gold standard for listings data, so comparing Zillow’s MLS-only listings to an MLS isn’t going to give you the whole picture,” says Cynthia Nowak, a spokeswoman for Zillow, adding that Zillow also includes items that aren’t often listed on the MLS, like for-sale-by-owner listings and new construction. 

Source: “On Big Real Estate Sites, Study Finds Gaps in Listings,” The New York Times (Oct. 3, 2012)