Zillow and Trulia Simply Cannot Replace the MLS – So What Are They Doing?

Recent changes to some of the listing portals is making me wonder just what they are trying to do.  Are Zillow and Trulia trying to become an MLS?

Background: MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service, and the purpose of an MLS is to enhance the exposure of real estate.  Real Estate professionals submit listing information to the MLS in their area where consumers can then search for homes based on their specifications.  Agents share this information in hopes of gaining more exposure for the seller and more options for the buyer.

Process: After reading an article from Maria Morton, I learned that the process of submitting a listing has become easier than ever! Once a Real Estate professional accepts a listing, they enter the property information into an online form where it is then posted into their MLS system and then subsequently out to consumers to view. In the past, Real Estate professionals used books printed monthly to display listings. But now, status and details can be edited and updated online in minutes.  The Internet has greatly enhanced the listing experience 10-fold!

While REALTORS® still need to pay dues to be part of local MLS’s, it does not compare to the tactics Trulia and Zillow are trying to do. As of recent, Trulia is now making clients pay to list single properties on their site. These sites simply do not offer enough value for what they now want to charge for in comparison to a local MLS.  Are they trying to become a national MLS?

Does the cost to place a listing on Trulia or Zillow offer a good ROI?  I think not, and in my opinion keeping it local will bring your more qualified leads.  For instance, our local MLS, the NJMLS (njmls.com)  has a one of the busiest consumer sites in the region and they send all the leads directly to the MLS members.  Perhaps instead of pouring money into portal sites like Zillow and Trulia, you might also consider using a IDX solution on your website.

RE/Advantage IDX 3.0 is an IDX listing search tool that consolidates and organizes all listings in a particular MLS into a user search that allows your prospects to search for the home of their dreams. RE/Advantage provides listing information to REALTORS® from New Jersey to California and down to Florida.  In addition to the superior and concise listing information IDX 3.0 has, we also offer the following features:

  • Our new unified MLS feature now pulls listing information from multiple MLS’s and consolidates it into a single search
  • Clients can now compare listings side by side
  • Listing Statistics to quickly know how prospects are viewing your IDX listings
  • Custom URL’s so you can virtually display any type of search result on your website
  • Features such as listing statistics, SMS text to consumer, PDF brochures, property maps and a mortgage calculator are now available with each IDX 3.0 subscription
  • IDX 3.0 now offers “search on the fly” capabilities that allows consumers to change search criteria of a listing search quickly and easily
  • Real Estate Offices – with this listing service you now have enhanced exposure as your office listings appear first in the MLS searches

RE/Advantage – As experts in Real Estate web site design, we understand what makes Internet technology work for you and your visitors.  We have been developing IDX Solutions, websites, Internet tools and marketing strategies since 1997.  No one provides a more comprehensive, well-thought-out site and tool set for your Internet presence.  We provide you with not only the tools to manage and customize your site, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing we are here to help if you need us.

5 thoughts on “Zillow and Trulia Simply Cannot Replace the MLS – So What Are They Doing?

  1. Some great points. We think it’s important for each local MLS to offer the best possible technology to it’s membership, rather than forcing the agents to rely on third-party sites like Trulia and Zillow. Consumers quickly realize the value of LOCAL assistance in their property search, and an MLS that offers these capabilities to the consumers ON BEHALF OF their membership will only help to enhance the importance of a local presence.


  2. The MLS also has additional information needed for agents to write offers and keep appraised of the ever changing inventory. Sites like Trulia and Zillow are fun for the general public to surf but when they actually want to buy a home, they need to connect with a local real estate agent who will give them access to the real MLS through their license.


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