Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com: Comparing “The Big Three”

by Chicago Agent

Kay Wirth, a broker with RE/MAX Unlimited Northwest in Crystal Lake, says that she advertises herself and her listings on Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. But of the three sites, she spends the most, in both dollars and attention, on Realtor.com.

Wirth pays for Showcase Listings on Realtor.com. With a Showcase listing, agents can post up to 25 photos on each of their Realtor.com listings. They can also add full-motion videos and open house alerts. Showcase Listings also come with multiple leads forms, making it easier for potential buyers to contact listing agents.

The enhanced service also allows Wirth to write longer descriptions of her properties. As she puts it, she could “write a book” about each of her featured listings if she so desired. She pays $3,198 per year for enhancing 25 listings in an unlimited number of ZIP codes.

The Showcase Listings feature also makes it easier for potential buyers to find Wirth’s Realtor.com listings. If buyers, for instance, search Crystal Lake for homes for sale, Wirth’s listings will rotate at the top of the page.

Wirth believes in Realtor.com so much, she even spends extra money to place banner ads on the site advertising her services.

“I spend more of my advertising money on online vehicles than I do on print advertising,” Wirth said. “And I spend a lot of that money on Realtor.com.”

Wirth does not pay extra for either Trulia Pro or Zillow Premier Agent, those sites’ equivalents to Realtor.com’s enhanced listings. Instead, she places only free listings on those two sites.

There’s a simple reason for this: Realtor.com, as Wirth says, is the online listing site that brings in the most business. It’s also the site that attracts the most dedicated visitors, Wirth said. She pointed to statistics released by Realtor.com for November: visitors spent more than 276 million minutes searching homes on the site during that month. The average visitor spent 23.9 minutes on the site and viewed 26 pages.

Realtor.com also does a better job attracting international buyers, Wirth said. In November, Realtor.com captured 880,000 unique visits from inter-national consumers.

“The consumer typically goes to Realtor.com first,” she said. “I do get quite a number of leads through Realtor.com. Realtor.com also pushes people toward my website. That is always helpful.”

Click here to view a PDF of the Realtor.com chart

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  • Mike Russo says:

    It is very frustrating to me that brokerages haven’t figured out how to get the traffic to our own sites. But instead, us agents have to pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to buy back our leads. Something isn’t right here.

  • Great information and interesting perspective from three different real estate brokerage offices that run very different business models.Another view from a real estate broker like myself is that two of the three service providers in the article do not display the listing agent information unless you pay for the enhancement. They even go as far as steering the lead to an agent that does pay. Also we agents and brokers are continuing to provide the marketing information such as photos and listing details to these and other service providers, to find that they are taking our information to capture their own lead. They then offer this “lead” to an agent at a fee.As one that has experienced a great deal of evolution in the way our listings have been displayed over the internet, our focus and the evolution of these dynamics will be ground shaking to the industry.
    I think that each agent and brokerage needs to focus on how our listings are indexed and returned for results from the major search engines.As well, since the rate of response is so important, another focus would be how quickly and how efficiently that lead comes to the listing agent as well as the listing agents lead capture and follow-up system. I willing be looking at the release coming out this spring from RE/MAX regarding the international(RE/MAX.com) web site changes.Remember- if we do not pay attention to our business someone else will!

  • Brian Hickey says:


    As you know, people have short memories and most agent domains are long and hard to spell.

    There is, however, a marketing tool that you manage and control yourself – it’s a strong domain that is licensing its brand and system to agents – all the traffic from that brand (which you “own”) is directed back to you and your business.

    There are “riches in niches”




  • Dana Lambert says:

    It’s interesting how Zillow says they only want to give out accurate, up-to-date numbers…but then they don’t give any numbers out. I understand wanting to be accurate, but if there were some averages for Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com ads, it might paint an even clearer picture of which programs are the best for agents’ money. Otherwise, as stated in the article, agents are forced to buy a program to test and measure their results, with no general knowledge of what their click-throughs and lead generation should be averaging upon purchase. Blind leading the blind?

  • I have to agree with Matt and Chris about Realtor.com but overall have to wonder if this is being approached to benefit both the consumer and the agent.

    For me, I do see the most clicks on per listing off of Realtor.com but actually click to contact from the consumer be it to list or buy is much higher for me from Trulia and Zillow.

    What really stands out to me is Mike Russo’s comment. Probably the most intelligent part of this post.

  • I have been an agent at both Re/Max for 22 years and now at Coldwell Banker. Regarding Trulia if in fact you follow the system as well as Realtor.com and Zillow the listed properties that are represented by Coldwell Banker agents always pull up first in the searches and always will due to the fact the Corporation has contracts with all of these companies. That makes a huge difference in the way the leads on properties are generated. Buyers are fickle and will only maybe to to 2 pages on line and they will click on only one listing. Re/Max is a great company however it is a Franchise and does not work as one unit when it comes to marketing. Each individual agent has to market the properties and when you add up the costs of these companies it is very expensive. I agree with Mike Russo as well as the costs can add up to more then $8000 a year if you do this as an individual agent.

  • Andrew Mooers says:

    Thanks for shaking it all out, for the apples to apples, side by side size up.

  • Billy says:

    Awesome article! Where can I buy a waterfront shack on a remaining iceburg? L-cubed!

  • Laurie Ann von Wald says:

    It is a shame that our board of realtors was asleep while Zillow snuck in to compete; and I must say that Zillow did very well with their advertising making the public, and even some realty agents believe that they were the “Godfather or King” of real estate information. I am told by my buyers that the Zillow site is user friendly and I do like the way we can make our Open Houses appear there…..however, we need to blow Zillow off the table. I am always having to “explain” the erroneous information on Zillow & even on trulia. I am hoping that under new ownership, realtor.com , will make Zillow & trulia disappear.

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