The pricing for the enhanced listings offered by Zillow and Trulia is similar. Zillow Platinum, which allows agents to run 50 featured listings a month, starts at $128 a month. The site’s Silver level, which allows for 25 monthly featured listings, costs $79, while its Basic level, with 10 monthly featured listings, costs $39 a month.
Trulia Pro also has three different levels. Its most expensive allows agents to post 50 featured listings a month and costs $149.99 every month. For $79.99, agents can post 24 featured listings a month. If they spend $39.99, they can post 10 featured listings.
It’s more difficult to determine the costs of Realtor.com’s featured listings, because the company charges different fees depending on a real estate agent’s market location and the number of listings this agent has. As Realtor.com explains on its site, traffic varies in different markets based on the number of potential homebuyers and sellers searching online. At the same time, the more listings that a real estate agent carries, the more circulation they receive on Realtor.com.
This website also offers monthly pricing to those agents who don’t want to pay for a full year of enhanced listings. Monthly pricing, though, does come with a 12 percent surcharge.
Chris Haran, marketing manager for the Chicago and Milwaukee offices of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, is a believer in the benefits of all three sites. Each Coldwell Banker brokerage, in fact, pays for all of its agents to have enhanced listings on Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com.
It was especially important to secure the enhanced listings on Zillow and Trulia, Haran says, because when buyers do a home search on these two sites, the first results that come up are featured results, the listings of real estate agents and brokerages that have paid Zillow and Trulia to boost their residences to prime spots.
Those agents who don’t pay for the enhanced listings on these sites won’t receive nearly as many Zillow or Trulia views of these properties, Haran said.
“Last year we decided to provide enhanced listings for all of our agents. Every time agents place one of their listings on Trulia, Zillow or Realtor.com, they come up as enhanced listings,” Haran said. “This made sense for us so that our listings could be seen and we could get leads coming in.”
The drop-off in views without the enhanced listings was dramatic on all three sites, Haran said.
Zillow also has an annoying quirk that can hurt agents who haven’t paid for enhanced listings on the site. When a buyer finds a listing on Zillow that isn’t enhanced, Zillow will recommend four different agents for that buyer to call. More often than not, Haran says, the actual listing agent isn’t one of those four agents’, which means the lead from that listing will not go to the listing agent.
“We saw that our competitors were showing up on our Zillow listings. That didn’t seem like a good deal to us,” Haran said. “That’s why we pay for the enhanced listings for all of our agents, so our listing leads go back to our agents.”
Matt Dollinger, vice president of strategic development for @properties, said that his firm also pays for its agents to post enhanced listings on all three sites. Dollinger, too, said that this has had a positive impact on his company’s agents.
“By featuring our agents’ listings, they show up ahead of those that aren’t enhanced. There’s a philosophy to this: how often does someone go to the 12th page of Google search results?” Dollinger said. “It’s the same thing when people look through real estate listings. How often are they going to go to the 12th page of a listings?”
Haran takes an analytical approach to the Trulia/Zillow/Realtor.com debate; he says that each site draws in a slightly different audience.
Realtor.com boasts a large built-in user base because it has been operating for so long, Haran said. Its association with the National Association of Realtors helps boost its credibility, and when consumers run a web search for real estate, Realtor.com always pops up high.
But Trulia and Zillow have carved out their own niches, Haran said. The two sites have captured the nation’s desire for celebrity news and sensational stories. The sites also run news stories that tend to be less fawning and more critical of the real estate industry, something that helps drive traffic to these sites.
As an example, Zillow recently ran a feature story that asked if Newt Gingrich’s ties to Freddie Mac could haunt him during the presidential race. It also featured stories on Joan Rivers’ New York City apartment being re-listed and pop star Avril Lavigne selling her Bel Air mansion to Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul.