Zillow and Trulia, the two largest sites in the home listings game, are merging. These sites enable buyers to navigate an online map to find a home’s value, look at available listings, and connect with local real estate agents. And while the companies, nearly a decade old, have somewhat helped to streamline the home buying and selling process, real estate deals remain a transaction that largely require professional assistance – from agents, to bankers, to attorneys. Even with online assistance from sites like Zillow and Trulia, most homebuyers prefer one-on-one guidance and advice from a trusted professional.
The merger, which will result in the two companies becoming by far the biggest online portal in the industry, has caused concern throughout the residential brokerage business. Some are worried that the merger will result in the company having too much power over listings, possibly raising associated fees. There has even been talk that the company might now break into the brokerage business itself, something that the separate companies have not done to date.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has its own consumer website, realtor.com, which is operated by Move Inc. and ranks third behind Zillow and Trulia in terms of popularity. In July, a new NAR marketing campaign emphasized the accuracy of realtor.com listings and the role of realtors in buying and selling homes. The long-standing critique of both Zillow and Trulia has been the accuracy of their services’ listing information. Realtor.com, on the other hand, gets listings directly from most of the nation’s more than 800 multiple listing services (MLSs).
Local MLS associations should not worry about the merger too much, as there is still very much a need for professionals in the world of real estate transactions. Associations, should, however note that they must make more of an effort to reach consumers in the online environment and offer value-added services that the industry behemoths do not – such as proving local expertise or always having the latest listings.
Taking a page from this playbook, the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors (LBAR) just announced the launch of their mobile app, LBAR Homes, which allows users to view all homes for sale or rent in the Bluegrass Region. Users can search by address, city, or zip code to see property details for all homes for sale or rent in a specified area, including price, square footage, estimated mortgage, taxes, features, maps, pictures, and more. A contact feature allows users to connect with respective listing agents by phone or email. The free app can be downloaded from an app store or at app.lbar.com, or by texting LBAR to 87778.
Once you find your home, you’ll want to contact a closing attorney to assist in the legal aspect of the purchasing process. Contact McBrayer’s real estate group if you’re ready for this exciting step in the process!
Brittany C. MacGregor is an associate attorney practicing in the Lexington office of McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. She is a graduate of Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky College of Law. Ms. MacGregor’s practice focuses on real estate law, including title examination, title insurance, clearing title issues, deeds, settlement statements, preparation of loan documentation, contract negotiation and preparation, and lease negotiation and preparation. She may be reached at email@example.com or at (859) 231-8780.
This article is intended as a summary of federal and state law activities and does not constitute legal advice.