Last Updated: October 27, 2015 1

Find Your Home with Zillow.com

Found In: Real Estate

If your landlord is acting up, your current apartment complex has gone to the dogs (literally or metaphorically), or the Mrs. wants a bigger place she can show off, Zillow is your salvation.  Launched in 2006, it’s currently the top real estate and rental online marketplace with over 110 million homes throughout the U.S. The site also flaunts a popular suite of mobile real estate apps which are available across major platforms. However, for many people like me, Zillow is the key to peace of mind and the perfect home for me and my family.

What You’ll Get on Zillow

After constant nagging from the Mrs. (honey, I love you!), I decided to try my luck and find a new place for us to stay. Now, to be honest, the main reason I was delaying it so far was the fact that I would need time off from work to start the house hunt, hound real estate agents, and finally sniff around the short list of homes that actually meet SOME of my criteria. Luckily, Zillow.com shined the light on a new path altogether.

Everything you need to know is right there on the homepage. You can choose to:

  • Buy – If you’re interested in buying a house, you can browse through the site’s collection of homes for sale (including sale by owner), foreclosures, new construction units, and properties coming soon.
  • Rent – By clicking the Rent tab, you can choose between searching through apartments or houses for rent. In addition to specifically skimming through pet-friendly rentals in the area you desire, you can create a renter profile that helps you pave the way to property managers’ hearts or list your own rental for other members to check out.
  • Sell – Now that’s what I call having your cake and eating it too! Not only does Zillow help you find your new (hopefully) forever home, but it allows you to sell the old one as well. You can find out how much your home’s worth, read about home values in your area, and even locate a seller’s agent through the links of this tab. Once you’re ready, you can post your home for sale, categorizing it under ‘For Sale by Agent’, ‘For Sale by Owner’, ‘Coming Soon’, or ‘Make Me Move’. The latter is a wonderful addition as it allows you to hint to potential buyers that you’re interested in selling without putting your home officially on the market. Personally, it gave me a chance to see just how much I could get for my place without sticking my neck out there.
  • Mortgages, Agent Finder, Home Design – All of these tabs will help you find professionals who can make selling your home and buying a new one much easier and VERY lucrative.

What further make these offerings worthwhile are the resources section and apps. For instance, if you want to learn more about buying properties, you can hover over Buy and then head to the Buyer’s Guide or Foreclosure Center. Also under Buy is one of the site’s apps, Real Estate. Available through the App Store, Google Play and Amazon, the app allows you to browse homes for rent or sale. You can also locate properties near the best schools or explore neighborhoods you’ve always wanted to live in. I managed to save some of my searches thanks to this app. Moreover, since it syncs nicely with my account on the site, I received a few alerts for listings in the areas I searched for.

However, let me be clear – there will be times when the app will notify you regarding new listings that aren’t available through the traditional channels. Don’t worry, there’s no scam here. Zillow has streamlined real estate, making it easy for many to buy and sell properties.

Hidden Gems on Zillow.com

Zillow promises home buyers and sellers numerous advantages. Aside from what you’ve read so far, the site also offers Zestimate, a service that helps sellers determine the present and future values of their homes. You can also track the latest mortgage rates or locate a local lender to call them up and get more details. However, there are some gems I discovered after spending a few extra minutes on the site.

The first gem was the Zillow Blog. Hidden under the More tab, the blog offers a variety of articles listed under Celebrity Real Estate, Tips & Advice, Unique Homes, Home Improvement, Market Trends, and Zillow News. I was in love with the fact that these posts were quite lighthearted yet very informative. After showing a few Halloween posts to my wife, I was deprived on my tablet for at least an hour (but it felt longer, I tell you!) while she browsed through décor ideas, party suggestions (yes, those were up there!), and even tips for protecting a property against young ghouls up to no good.

The second attractive feature hidden on the site is Zillow Research. Now this is for serious people as it includes a lot of information under Data, Local Market Overviews, Real Estate and Rental Trends, Housing Affordability, Forecasting, and Housing by Generation. To be honest, I didn’t go over these since I was running out of time, but skimming through the statistics at the top of the page gave me a good idea of the current and future home values.

The third and final feature I truly loved is the Advice tab. Hover over it and you’ll find a range of discussion topics, including how to buy and sell homes, use Zillow and make the most of its services, and local topics. Since the site is also used by pros, there’s also a Pro-to-Pro section where professionals and agents can exchange ideas, strategies and much more to boost their businesses.

Signing Up and Using Zillow.com

Creating a Zillow profile is VERY easy. By clicking Join on the top right corner, you’ll be sent to a New Account page. Enter your email address, create a password, and hit Submit to create your own account. If you’re a professional, make sure to tick the box next to ‘I am an industry professional’.

Now your account will be blank, so you need to spice things up a little. Add photos, good descriptions and anything you deem fit to win over the Zillow community and ensure that they buy your home and/or sell their listed properties to you. Just remember to keep your Grammar Nazi or Internet Troll tendencies in check while posting on Advice or else you’ll commit Zillow suicide (i.e. leave) when everyone shuns you.

The Bottom Line

Whether you want to sell or buy a home, Zillow is one of the best services I’d recommend to you. In addition to revolutionizing the way people handle real estate, it offers to educate you before you make any major decision and actually entertains you during the upcoming tough phase ahead. And let’s not forget the numerous mobile apps that are ready to make real estate, rentals, mortgages, and home design more convenient and downright easy.