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Zillow’s strength in the real estate industry questioned [study]

A new study claims that comparing Zillow and realtor.com for traffic and listing accuracy, the winner remains unclear.

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Zillow is the most popular real estate database on the web, but it may not be the most accurate, and it may soon be outpaced in the number of listings by competitor sites, according to a study by BuildZoom.

Combining data with its sister site Trulia.com, Zillow Group’s sites have more web traffic than any other. However, realtor.com just surpassed Trulia in web traffic, making it the second most popular database online. News Corp acquired realtor.com last year, and the merger seems to be generating a flush of new visitors to the site.

Comparing Zillow and realtor.com

Zillow Group began to decline back in April when they broke their contract, and stopped getting data from ListHub, and started working directly with MLSs and brokers to get listings. Unfortunately, Zillow can’t seem to find listings fast enough to keep up with its competitors, cites the study.

BuildZoom studied the number of listings on Zillow and realtor.com from the end of the ListHub contract back in April through September of this year. They found that Zillow had fewer listings than realtor.com in 42 of 51 key metro areas.

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In 30 of those cities, Zillow had 20 percent fewer listings than realtor.com, while in 15 cities, Zillow had a whopping 60 percent fewer listings. Zillow did manage to have more listings than realtor.com in Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and Detroit, though experts suspect that Zillow is more plagued with inaccurate, outdated, and duplicate listings.

According to Dr. Issi Romem, Chief Economist at BuildZoom, realtor.com has ten years of experience over Zillow, is backed by the National Association of Realtors, and updates data from over 800 data services every 15 minutes. In Romem’s opinion, this means that realtor.com has “more timely, accurate and comprehensive nationwide listings.”

Less listings, more traffic

While Zillow’s Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs is confident that Zillow’s “listing count is growing weekly,” Romem thinks the site will face an “uphill battle” to close the gap between its listings and those of realtor.com and other competitors.

On the other hand, despite fewer and less accurate listings, Zillow continues to generate the most web traffic, which means it will continue to pull in revenue from advertising. Zillow Group reported an unexpectedly profitable second quarter in 2015, surpassing analyst’s predictions by a significant margin.

However, if too many customers find out that Zillow’s listings suck compared to realtor.com, more and more will make the switch.

Perhaps that’s why Zillow issued a cease-and-desist order for BuildZoom’s study.

Despite the discrepancies, Romem thinks there is still some value to checking out both sites, and wants to “encourage readers to compare listings… and form their own opinions.”

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#Zillow

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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