Hits — and (Mostly) Misses

Like, promises to arm prospective home buyers with reams of data about homes for sale.

Buyers can search by property type, price, square footage, zip code, etc.; get information about schools and other community info; and even pose questions to the Trulia. com “community” that generate email notices as responses come in.

The site’s pro’s and con’s are discussed in an article in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, “A Go-To Web Site for Home Buyers: offers an Insider’s View of Real Estate.”

So does Trulia work as advertised? And make no mistake — advertising, not great market data or insider real estate scoop — is what Trulia is selling. Ditto for Zillow (“Zillow for ditto??”).

To test it, I ran a search (early Wed. am, 2/18) on zip code 55410 (Southwest Minneapolis) for single family homes between $400,000 to $500,000 to see what would come up.

Not coincidentally, I have a very active listing in that price bracket and area — a high profile and aggressively marketed listing, I might add. The home is just two blocks south of Minneapolis’ Lake Calhoun, and has been generating tons of (non-Trulia) traffic (see, next).

(Still) Not Ready for Prime Time

I originally listed 3929 Washburn Ave. South in early December; my client just reduced the price Monday from $479,900 to $429,900. Here’s what I found — and didn’t:

–My search query generated 11 hits on . . . but did not include 3929 Washburn!

–Included on the list: the closest comp (“comparable sold property”) for my listing, 4155 Drew Ave. According to Trulia, this home was still for sale for $475,000. In fact, Drew dropped from $475,000 to $450,000 on Oct. 29, went off the market December 8 as a “Pending” sale, and closed January 16.

–The closest (Active) competitor to my listing, 4128 Beard, was identified as “Address Not Disclosed,” with an accompanying picture. Curiously, though, clicking on “listing preview” generated a map showing the block where the home is located. Trulia did have the correct price and home stat’s.

–Another home, 4404 Abbott for $475,000, is identified as a Coldwell Banker Burnet listing. Which may come as a surprise to the owners — because it does not appear to be for sale. If it is, it’s a non-MLS listed For Sale By Owner, which is quite rare these days.

–Notwithstanding my “single-family” search criterion, one of the eleven hits was a nearby condo.

That’s probably a long enough list for most readers (and all the time I have to parse Trulia’s “hits”).

Conclusion: if you want to really know what’s really going on in the market, you’d better talk to someone who’s got access to the Multiple Listing Service, and knows the inventory on it.

That would be . . . an experienced, local Realtor (Preferably, me!).

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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