The National Association of Realtors in collaboration with Google released a study earlier this month stating that 90 percent of 2012 homebuyers searched online during their home buying process. Fast access to information seemed to be the driving force, but unfortunately for Elmhurst homebuyers, the information they access may not be 100 percent accurate.

Internet-based real estate sites such as Trulia and Zillow use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database to populate their own databases of homes for sale. When a listing agent adds a new home to the MLS database, it takes about 15 minutes to appear. Unfortunately, it can take up to 9 days for that same listing to appear on Trulia or Zillow, and if a buyer is relying upon only this information, he or she may miss a great deal on the perfect home.

Slow data publication isn’t the only problem with these sites. The Internet-based real estate firm Redfin was recently hired to assess the accuracy of the data posted on these sites. They found that approximately 36 percent of the listings shown as active on both Zillow and Trulia were in fact no longer available. What’s more, the study also found that both sites showed only a fraction of the actual MLS listings available. Zillow displayed 79 percent of them, and Trulia displayed 81 percent.

During the past year, more and more brokerages have chosen not to display their listings on national real estate portals such as these. Out-of-date and inaccurate information doesn’t help anyone trying to purchase or sell a property – buyers aren’t the only ones who may be getting the wrong information. Sellers may be tempted to use automated estimating applications on these sites. In particular, Zillow’s Zestimate is advertised as a reliable way to estimate the value of a home. Unfortunately, by Zillow’s own admission, any given Zestimate falls within 5 percent of the actual selling price only 33 percent of the time.

The best way to get up-to-date, reliable information about regional real estate is to enlist the services of professional agents. Access to real-time MLS data, first-hand knowledge of the region and its markets, and the experience to interpret all of this information for your specific needs make real estate professionals the best choice when buying or selling your home. All of us here at The Gracik Makinney Real Estate Group are dedicated to providing you the best service possible. Contact us today at 190 North York Road in Elmhurst, or at (630) 567-5902.