When you mention Zillow or Trulia to professional Realtors®, you many notice them cringe just a little. Both these and other online real estate database services have many useful features, but they also have limits. Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware of these limitations and may potentially be misled by the data found online. Read on for a comprehensive explanation of online real estate data and what to remember when viewing this information.

What are Zillow and Trulia Anyway?

Zillow and Trulia are two of the most popular U.S. real estate sites which collect and aggregate data from a variety of public information sources. A mind-boggling amount of data is sorted and analyzed by an automated set of rules known as an algorithm and presented in response to user queries. Both sites also list homes for sale and offer a variety of tools and widgets, including mortgage calculators, crime data and local school information. Although you may believe that these sites exist to provide helpful information, both Zillow and Trulia are media companies that exist solely to generate revenue from ad sales. They provide seemingly helpful information that lures consumers to their sites, and the more people visit the site, the more they can charge advertisers, typically real estate agents and mortgage companies. Although these two giants originally had some competition, they have acquired most of their smaller competitors and today control the market.

The Problems Inherent in Trulia and Zillow

Information may be inaccurate on Trulia and Zillow for many reasons. Data from public sources (like your local county assessor or recorder) may have been entered incorrectly, making the aggregated data incorrect as well. The biggest problem, however, is that automated algorithms aren't capable of considering a home's condition, finishes, views or curb appeal. It doesn't adjust for things like traffic noise or undesirable location. Some of the data used to value properties is older and not reflective of current market conditions. Both sites are slow to update as well. Consequently, listings that are long sold and closed may still show up as active. Unfortunately, consumers who are unaware of these shortcomings may make important financial decisions based on inaccurate data.

Alternative Options to Online Real Estate Databases

You can better determine the value of real estate with some other extremely reliable alternatives to these online databases. You could hire an appraiser to assess your home's value. This option will provide a current and accurate depiction of your home's value, but it will cost several hundred dollars. You could also contact a licensed Realtor® and ask for a comparative market analysis of your home's value. Both approaches will consider all of those factors that Zillow and Trulia simply cannot. Turn to the online databases if you want to know what your neighbors paid for their house, but seek out a professional to provide you with valuation data you can rely on for financial decisions.

In Yorba Linda and the surrounding areas, the Edie Israel Team has the experience necessary to make an accurate assessment of your home's current value. Contact them today to discuss all of your real estate needs and questions. The Edie Israel Team can provide a personalized level of service that you'll never find on Trulia or Zillow.