On Christmas Eve, reports were released by Hitwise.com, an Experian web analytics company, listing the Top 10 Sites in various categories for 2011. For the real estate sector, Yahoo led the pack with 12.60% of total market share. As a real estate buyer and web developer, I took a look at these sites to see what set them apart.
Yahoo, who also took three spots in the top 10 of all sites in the U.S. with Yahoo, Yahoo Mail, and My Yahoo, offers an engaging search site that has very refined combination of search capabilities with type of home, sort by, vicinity, and home detail. Along with this, payment estimates, financing information, regional market conditions and a format full of details provide a positive user experience on an intuitive interface. One unique feature not found on the other sites is the ability to refine the search within miles of the targeted city such as ‘within 25 miles of Los Angeles’.
Zillow.com ranks #2, with 6.86% market share in the 2011 list and it is owned by Yahoo. The interface is markedly simple in its platform and the search capabilities are more limited and presented in a somewhat outdated format. The plus with Zillow is that anyone, including For Sale By Owner, can list a property on the site for free. Of course, upgrades are available. This site has gained in rank over the previous years as word of mouth drives traffic.
The third site on the list is Realtor.com with 6.20% market share. My first impression of the site is frustration with pop-up ads which prevent me from starting my search. There are more home details included in the search capabilities than the other sites but the site is more limited in the regional search details. This is a good site if you are searching for a very specific type of house such as a three bedroom with a two-car garage that is over 1500 square feet.
Trulia has a similar format to Yahoo, although not as sophisticated. Ranking #4, Trulia controls 4.97% of the market of these sites. For basic search, Trulia offers a good selection although some information is dated which speaks to their oversight. The photo offering, like Yahoo, is good and provide more details on the homes than other sites such as property tax.
AOL Real Estate is #5 with 4.28% on the list and is more a real estate information site with a very small portion of the home page dedicated to search. However, one very attractive feature, especially for a seller, is the option to search homes that have sold in a zip code, something very useful when gauging market conditions. Once into the search, the site does allow refining the search.
MSN Real Estate controls 2.29% of the market share and offers the standard search capabilities but requires more clicks to get to the details of a home. This site did have the easiest loan calculator than other sites.
MyNewPlace.com and Rent.com are both rental listings and offer solid search options and are good information resources for renters. ZipRealty.com is a real estate site and is extremely bare bones. The search consists of numerous drop down menu’s which mean more work for the user to obtain results.
Every user has preferences when doing a web site search; personally, I prefer the most information in the fewest steps with lots of pictures. For me, I’d recommend Yahoo Real Estate and Trulia as your top destinations when shopping for a new home.