BlogReal EstateZillow vs Realtor: A 2024 Comparison

Zillow vs Realtor: A 2024 Comparison

Are you torn between Zillow and Realtor.com for your real estate needs? Discover the key differences, pros, and cons of each platform in our comprehensive comparison. Whether you're a buyer, seller, or real estate professional, make an informed decision with our expert insights.

Dan Trujillo
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Realtor.com and Zillow are two of the most popular real estate websites that offer similar features such as property search, agent listings, and home value estimates. However, there are differences in their data sources, accuracy, and user experience that can best suit your needs as a real estate professional.

In a world with numerous real estate websites and apps, how do you know which is best for you? You might be wondering if Realtor.com or Zillow is the more valuable tool for agents and brokers. This article will give you an overview of the two companies.


zillow: pros and cons

What is Zillow? 

Zillow is an online real estate marketplace generally known for its user-friendly tools, including a free MLS search. Having started as a real estate valuation website, Zillow has expanded into the realm of allowing users to post reviews about individual agents and brokerages in the country. 

Their website features consumer and agent tools, home value estimates for specific homes, and even home price forecasts down the line—all free of charge. Zillow does not list any agents or brokers; rather the company uses third-party listings from active real estate agents and brokerages nationwide.

Pros

  • Broad Exposure: Listings reach millions of potential buyers on a high-traffic platform, increasing lead generation and brand awareness. Zillow sees over 138 million monthly unique visitors, offering significant exposure compared to traditional advertising methods.
  • Lead Generation Tools: The Premier Agent program provides tools like lead capture forms, allowing direct interaction with interested buyers. Additionally, Zillow Offers and Instant Offers can generate quick cash offers for sellers, providing potential new clients.
  • Networking Opportunities: Premier Agent profile showcases expertise and achievements, attracting potential clients and fostering connections with other industry professionals. This can be particularly valuable for newer agents or those expanding their network.

Cons

  • Inaccurate Zestimates: Zillow’s automated valuation tool (Zestimate) can be misleading for buyers and sellers, potentially affecting pricing strategies and client trust. Realtors need to actively address Zestimate discrepancies and educate clients about their limitations.
  • Lead Quality Concerns: While Zillow generates leads, their quality can vary significantly. Realtors may invest time and resources in unqualified leads, impacting their return on investment. Careful lead vetting and nurturing strategies are crucial.
  • Cost Considerations: Premier Agent subscriptions can be expensive, and the return on investment can be uncertain. Weighing the cost against lead generation success and brand exposure is vital before subscribing.

the pros and cons of realtor.com

What is Realtor.com?

Realtor.com is a brokerage platform that allows agents and brokers to sell listings, find new clients, and build connections in the industry. It offers a host of resources including agent leads, video tours, real estate news, property information by ZIP code, mortgage rates by city/state/zip code, and even several online radio channels to promote your business. However, Realtor.com does not feature a free-to-use MLS search.

Pros

  • National Association Affiliation: Backed by the National Association of REALTORS®, Realtor.com benefits from brand recognition and trust among consumers. This association can boost agent credibility and attract clients seeking licensed professionals.
  • Focus on Licensed Agents: Unlike Zillow, Realtor.com only allows listings from licensed agents, potentially reducing competition and attracting more serious buyers. This can be a significant advantage for agents in competitive markets.
  • Comprehensive Marketing Tools: Various marketing packages offer targeted advertising, virtual tours, lead generation tools, and analytics, allowing agents to tailor their online presence and reach specific demographics.

Cons

  • Limited Free Exposure: Basic profiles only offer restricted listing visibility compared to paid packages. Free exposure might not be sufficient for new agents or those in slow markets.
  • Lead Cost: Paid lead programs involve per-lead costs, requiring careful evaluation of lead quality and conversion rates to ensure cost-effectiveness. Budgeting and lead nurturing strategies are crucial to maximize ROI.
  • Local Competition: Paid lead programs create competition within the platform itself, with top placement often favoring agents willing to spend more. This can be challenging for new or budget-conscious agents.

Key Differences Between Zillow vs. Realtor.com

Lead Quality and Conversions

Zillow offers broader exposure and potentially more leads, but their quality and accuracy can be a concern. Realtor.com boasts higher quality leads due to its focus on licensed agents, but they come at a cost, and competition within the platform can be fierce. 

Both platforms require careful vetting and strategic use to optimize lead conversion and ROI. Ultimately, the “better” platform depends on individual needs and budget, with Zillow appealing to those seeking wide visibility and Realtor.com favoring agents who prioritize licensed expertise.

Advertising and Lead Costs

Zillow offers a “pay-per-impression” model, charging agents for every time their listing or profile is viewed. This broad exposure can generate many leads, but their quality could be consistent and require significant sifting. 

Realtor.com focuses on paid “lead programs” where agents compete for pre-qualified leads based on specific criteria. While leads tend to be of higher quality, this targeted approach comes with per-lead costs, requiring careful evaluation of conversion rates and budget considerations. 

Both platforms require strategic advertising and lead nurturing to optimize ROI, but Zillow caters to agents seeking maximum visibility at potentially lower upfront costs, while Realtor.com favors those prioritizing pre-qualified leads and can manage per-lead expenses. 

Business Models

Zillow operates as an advertising platform. They primarily generate revenue through two streams: 1) charging real estate agents for “Premier Agent” subscriptions that enhance visibility and lead capture features, and 2) displaying targeted ads to users based on their browsing activity and search preferences. This model prioritizes user engagement and broad exposure for agents, potentially generating more leads but with varying quality. 

Realtor.com, on the other hand, leans towards a lead generation model. They primarily earn revenue through “lead programs” where agents pay per lead based on specific criteria like location or budget. This model ensures pre-qualified leads for agents but requires careful budget management and competition within the platform. 

Listing Sources

Zillow casts a wider net, attracting more leads through pay-per-impression advertising while potentially sacrificing quality with its inclusion of unverified FSBO listings. Realtor.com boasts higher quality leads through targeted paid programs for pre-qualified buyers but demands higher per-lead costs. 

In terms of listing sources, Zillow offers a broader variety of FSBO options, while Realtor.com ensures data accuracy with its focus on licensed agents, impacting potential buyer reach for each platform. The “better” option depends on your priorities: wider exposure and potentially lower upfront costs with Zillow, or more targeted, verified leads with Realtor.com at a higher price point. 

User Interfaces and Features

Zillow prioritizes visual appeal and simplicity with a user-friendly interface, and interactive features like 3D tours, and neighborhood heatmaps, but might lack depth in advanced search filters and market data. On the other hand, 

Realtor.com offers a data-driven approach with comprehensive search filters, detailed property information, and in-depth market reports, appealing to those seeking an analytical experience, but at the cost of a less visually engaging interface. The choice depends on your preferred style: Zillow for ease of use and visual appeal, Realtor.com for extensive data and analysis. 

Home Value Estimates

Zillow relies on its proprietary algorithm, the Zestimate, which considers public records, comparable sales, and market trends to generate a single value. While Zestimates can be helpful for quick ballpark figures, they often lack accuracy, especially for off-market properties or those with unique features. 

Realtor.com, on the other hand, aggregates multiple estimates from various third-party providers, offering a wider range of potential values and potentially increased accuracy. However, this approach doesn’t guarantee perfect accuracy either, and interpreting the range of estimates requires careful consideration. Ultimately, neither platform replaces a professional appraisal for a definitive valuation. 

Market Share

Zillow reigns supreme with a broader reach, capturing about 44% of total real estate search traffic, thanks to its inclusion of FSBO listings and aggressive marketing strategies. This wider net potentially attracts more buyers, but also includes less reliable data. 

Realtor.com, backed by the National Association of REALTORS®, holds a strong 19% market share, focusing solely on listings from licensed agents. This ensures data accuracy and attracts buyers seeking professional representation, but might limit reach for sellers targeting specific buyer segments. 

The “better” market share depends on your goals: Zillow for maximum exposure to potentially diverse buyers, or Realtor.com for a narrower, verified audience willing to work with professionals. 

Zillow vs Realtor: an infographic comparison

How To Leverage Leads From Both Platforms

MyOutDesk offers proven, full-time real estate virtual assistants that can help you manage your Zillow leads and Realtor.com leads. We’ve had clients save thousands of dollars by outsourcing their lead management over to our assistants. As advocates for independent real estate agents and brokers, we truly believe that both Realtor.com and Zillow can be beneficial tools for realtors in all markets, especially when marketing to potential home buyers on the Internet.

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Dan Trujillo

Dan Trujillo

Writer at MyOutDesk

Dan, based in Sacramento, California, has over 5 years of experience copywriting for the virtual assistant industry. He produces content for social media, blogs, case studies, and publications with MyOutDesk.

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