Wednesday, February 20, 2008


US Bay Area Housing Research Online Tools

After months of research, I want to record my findings.

- comprehensive
- in sync with MLS databases, in other words listings are up-to-date
- integrated outside information:
- maps plus facing views
- MLS text and photos
- home valuations via Zillow and now Eppraisal
- pricing history
- sale history
- recently sold homes but not that up-to-date
- searches only what I typed in and surrounds results with red outline
 - previous default search to show everything on map is saved

- some listings have undisclosed addresses
 - but upon double check with MLS database address is disclosed
- home disclosures not integrated
 - depends on listing agents I guess
 - I ask my listing agent to get it for me.
- price per square footage not calculated
 - in "Nearby Similar Homes"
 - and in "Nearby Similar Sales"
- no home valuations for nearby homes, like Zillow
- valuations appear only for homes that are on sale
- no open homes calendar

I use Redfin the most. I like the comprehensiveness and the up-to-date listings.

- home valuations for every home
- maps plus facing views
- recently sold homes but not that up-to-date
- home information from public records
- sale history
- does have listings but not MLS
- appears to be For Sale By Owners

- valuations now rounded to nearest hundred I think
- miss the specific evaluations
- in facing views, the home valuations are not rotated when the view is rotated

Second on my list is Zillow. I use it more as a research tool to understand generic home valuations and less as a listings database like Redfin.

- open homes calendar
- latest sold homes, updated every Sunday

- search interface for open homes is clumsy

Since this is a newspaper site, I figure their core focus is news content and the real estate section is just extra. So I can look past the faults of the search interface and just extract the information I want.

- has MLS listings but not up-to-date
- has pricing history

- MLS listings update is very slow
- site is difficult to use

I only use this site to look at pricing history. Previously Redfin did not record this but they just started couple weeks ago I believe.

- looks like Redfin but not quite
- has listings but not MLS
- has foreclosure listings from RealtyTrac

- listings are not up-to-date

I tried Trulia out after reading some articles saying it's competing with Redfin and Zillow. Turns out for me it's not the case. I think the site is more of a social network site and less of a listings tool or a home research tool. Trulia is also a few days late with new listings. I think this is because they don't use MLS but instead scour websites for new listings. I am always getting emails one or more days late from Trulia about a new listing I saw already. On the plus side I think they also act as an advertising site for RealtyTrac.

(forgot to add some other sites) /

- MLS's own database, Bay Area specific I think
- search results also show unavailable homes so I can see which homes accepted a deal
 - for homes that have gone into Pending states

- search interface is clumsy
- doesn't show DOM(Days On Market) or CDOM(Continuous Days On Market)
 - strange that this is MLS and it's not shown

I only use this site for Pro feature #2. It quickly shows me what's going on with the areas I'm interested in. It's good to know which homes are suddenly not available.

(real estate section)

- no frills search results
- some listings are not from MLS

- none

I found out several months ago that some listing agents use craigslist as another advertisement medium. So I just use it to quickly check who has listed what. Most of the time they are the same as what's on MLS but once in a while they are not.

KFC blogger, thanks for the kind words about Redfin's site. We're adding the open house information you requested to our site in a couple of weeks. The whole software development team was glad to see that you appreciated features we've been working on over the past few months.
Regards, Glenn

Glenn Kelman
CEO, Redfin
Glenn, Wow I'm really surprised you found my blog entry! I didn't expect to get a response from anyone.
I missed another "Pro" for Redfin.
I like how Redfin now searches only what I typed in and surrounds the results with a red outline. My wife and I actually had a discussion several weeks back about why search results always showed everything on the map. As a software developer, I was thinking the results could still be filtered further based on what I typed: be it a city name or a zip code. In the end we figured Redfin has its reasons plus it was always improving the site.
I can understand and appreciate the work your entire software development team did to get everything to where Redfin is at right now. I look forward to seeing Redfin grow.
Hey that's great that you noticed the new neighborhood/zip code/city outlines!

The folks who worked on those features were glad to see the feedback.

By the way, there's an Addicted to Redfin group on Facebook if you're interested:

The Open House stuff will be out very late on Monday night. We're also adding RSS feeds with that release.
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