Real estate search sites: comparing 2007 to 2012

April 21, 2012

Five years of real estate search changes

In five short years, a lot about real estate search has changed, and Realtors are better educated now about the functionality and aesthetics of web design, and expect more from companies that seek to dip into their pockets. Rules have changed, new programming languages have been developed, and five years in the tech world is an eternity – we would say that five years in tech time is 20 years in non-tech time, as innovation is constantly happening all around us.

In these last five years, how have the largest real estate search sites progressed? Some, like Zillow, have innovated by becoming responsive, others have made updates by leaning toward minimalist design, others have updated their colors, and some remain somewhat outdated, we’ll let you decide which is which.

Some companies are publicly traded, others are not, some are funded by Silicon Valley, others are not, some are legacy brands with policies that restricts employees’ social media use under their brand name, while others are pushing the envelope in the name of transparency.

What is most fascinating is that while there is a great deal of disruption to the real estate industry as a whole, particularly the role of an agent, there is little disruption when it comes to major real estate search sites – several niche sites and rental sites have launched in the past five years, but no one has come out to compete with the big three (Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com) in years.

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Below, we step into the time machine and take a look at how five years has changed real estate search sites:

1. Zillow.com

Zillow in 2007 and Zillow today.

2. Trulia.com

Trulia in 2007 and Trulia today.

3. Realtor.com

Realtor.com in 2007 and Realtor.com today.

4. RealEstate.com

RealEstate.com in 2007 and RealEstate.com today.

5. Homes.com

Homes.com in 2007 and Homes.com today.

6. MLS.com

MLS.com in 2007 and MLS.com today.

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Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.


  1. Lani, aesthetically they’ve grown up and they get millions of visitors each month but how do they perform?
    Are they just ehomes magazine? or do they generate quality leads that turn into transactions and paychecks?

  2. Its one thing to compare the UI of the homepages but I think to really answer this question, you need to drill down to the overall user user experience and see what the work flow is like. I have found that in some cases it can get rather confusing to a non-tech person when it comes to certain advanced functionality on these sites.

  3. Interestingly, Zillow today looks kind of like Trulia-2007!

  4. At first glance, it seems that only Realtor.com has gone backwards. All the rest have improved or increased the use of graphics and photos. We shop with our eyes first folks. They don’t call them windows for nothing !

  5. Definite progress for sure – but who will inevitably control the data?

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