1. Technology
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Zillow.com: Real Estate Search Made Simple

By

Zillow.com: Real Estate Search Made Simple
Image courtesy Zillow.com

What is Zillow?

Zillow, launched in 2006, is a comprehensive real estate site that offers practical resources for common home-buying questions; i.e., home values, rental prices, mortgage rates, and the local real estate market.

Zillow partnered with Yahoo! in 2011 to provide the vast majority of Yahoo's real estate listings online, cementing their place as the largest real estate network on the Web according to several online measurement agencies.

Over ten million homes (U.S. only) are indexed in Zillow's vast real estate database. This includes homes for sale, homes that have recently sold, homes for rent, and homes that are currently on the market. Searchers can use Zillow to get an estimate of what their home is worth (this is called a "Zestimate), see what mortgage rates might be available to them from a wide variety of lenders, and get valuable insights about their local real estate market.

According to the site itself, the name "Zillow" is a combination of the "zillions" of data factors involved in making complex real estate decisions and the idea of a house being a place to lay your head, aka a "pillow". "Zillions" plus "pillow" equals "Zillow".

Home values on Zillow:

One of the most popular features on Zillow is the "Zestimate", Zillow's home valuation based on a system of proprietary factors. This estimate is not meant to substitute for a formal home appraisal; rather, it's an informal way to get a head start on understanding what your home (or a home you might be looking at) might be worth in today's market.

A typical Zestimate shows the Value Range (the historically high and low value of what the home has shown itself to be worth), a rent Zestimate (how much the home might go for in the rental market), price history (represented in both graph and linear format), property tax history, and estimated monthly payments. The information used to present this data is based on a wide range of public information that is compiled into one cohesive, useful presentation.

All the Zestimates for the hundreds of millions of homes that Zillow currently covers are part of the Zillow Home Value Index. The Zillow Home Value Index is a geographical, chronological snapshot of home values, based on median value. In other words, it's a simple way to get a quick grasp on how a specific area is doing in the real estate market.

Mortgage rates:

Another very popular feature at Zillow is the Mortgage Marketplace. Searchers can request loan information from several different lenders at the same time without supplying any personal identification information whatsoever (which makes it a very attractive option indeed). Users are completely anonymous until they decide to contact a lender that presents a favorable quote.

Searchers can also easily compare rates and lenders side by side, assessing loan types, rates, percentages, fees, monthly payments, even how far the lender is in relation to the buyer.

Zillow mobile:

Zillow offers several free apps for various platforms that enable users to instantly tap into their enormous real estate database on the go. Users can share what they find with friends on such social networking services as Facebook and Twitter, use Google Maps to view homes, see homes for rent and for sale, even get mortgage information.

Searching for listings on Zillow:

Searching for information on home values can be done by entering in a complete address (a Zestimate) into the search function bar on Zillow's home page. If you're looking for localized information about a particular neighborhood or state, go ahead and enter that in to get the Zillow Home Value Index, as already discussed above. This works for rentals or for homes for sale.

Search results come with many different filters, such as For Sale, For Rent, Make Me Move (a way to test the home selling waters without officially listing your home), and Recently Sold. In addition, there's also a price slider, bed and bath preference, square footage, and literally dozens more tweaks that Zillow users can attach to their real estate searches to find exactly what they are looking for.

Zillow.com: Real Estate Search Done Right:

If you're looking for real estate on the Web, you can't do much better than Zillow, a site that offers an extensive home database with millions of listings, a comprehensive home value index for individual properties, neighborhoods, and cities, and a user-friendly mortgage marketplace that makes finding financial quotes streamlined and hassle-free.

Searching for information on Zillow is quite easy. In order to get a quick home value estimate, or "Zestimate", simply type in your complete home address into the search function bar on Zillow's home page. If you'd rather just get some information about the general real estate market in your neighborhood, town, or city, you can do that too: enter in the information, and then you'll be able to filter your results accordingly with filters and/or an interactive map.

Zillow obtains its data from public sources that are freely accessible on the Web; this includes information provided by county, city, or public records. Zillow uses this data (in addition to many, many other resource factors) to compile detailed listings that create as accurate a profile of a home as possible. This makes the Zestimates reliable; however, these estimates should not be substituted for an official real estate appraisal.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.