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Are Trulia Estimates Too Little, To Late?

Trulia Estimate

National real estate player Trulia began its foray into the home valuation space yesterday.

Trulia Estimates, as they’re called, are currently in beta and available for sold properties in the San Francisco Bay Area. Brian Boero of 1000Watt Consulting provides a thourough break down of the Trulia Estimate launch, so I won’t go any deeper. Instead I’ll focus on:

  • What this move means to consumers,
  • How it might affect the business side of things,
  • What it means to SEO,
  • A comparison of Trulia Estimates and Zillow Zestimates.

Consumers’ Perspective

From a consumer standpoint, I think this is great news. When I was searching for my last home I used my own real estate search site, of course, but was constantly heading over to Zillow for previously sold data and, more importantly, Zestimates.

Once Trulia breaks out of beta and launches nationwide for active properties, Trulia Estimates will provide similar useful data to consumers…and that is good news for home buyers and sellers alike.

Business Perspective

It’s no secret that home buyers use multiple websites when searching for property, as I did in my example above. And there is no doubt that this move is aimed directly at Zillow’s Zestimates. What this does for Trulia is provides their users with a reason not to leave their site. Smart move? Yes, and the same reason we’ve launched Value Scores on

For the time being Trulia’s Estimates pose no threat to Zillow, but once they’re available nationwide for active properties it will be interesting to see how much Zillow’s web traffic will be dinged.

SEO Perspective

Google rewards sites for providing useful information, and Trulia Estimates will definitely be useful to consumers. Over time this will be a positive move for Trulia’s SEO.

Comparison Trulia Estimates vs. Zillow Zestimates

For this comparison we’ll be looking at 88 King Street #717, San Francisco CA 94107:

Both sits provide valuable information, including price/sq ft and nearby similar sales. Zillow, however, gives much more previous sales history as well as tax history. Zillow also provides a graph showing several years of their Zestimate. I don’t think that Trulia can do this as their Estimate is brand new, but maybe they’ll figure out how to use their algorithm historically.

The one place where Trulia wins is that they offer the ability for consumers and agents to provide feedback on the home valuation. As Jim Bilbao comments on Mr. Boero’s post, “bringing crowd sourcing to home pricing is attractive.” I couldn’t agree more. Will this force Zillow’s hand to integrate something similar into their algorithm?


This is a great move by Trulia. A long time coming, maybe, but better late than never. The question is, can Trulia catch up to Zillow? After all, Zillow has a 5 year head start.

About Justin Britt

Justin Britt ( is Head of Innovation and Co-Founder of a little Hawaii Real Estate company. Britt oversees user interface design, SEO, programming, public relations and social media for Hawaii's 6th largest and fastest growing real estate brokerage.

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  • Hey Justin – Sara from Zillow here.  Wanted to answer the question you asked at the end of your post – ..”will this force Zillow’s hand to integrate something similar..”

    Listing agents have had the opportunity to post whether they think the Zesitmate is too low, high or just right on their listings for about a year and a half now on Zillow.  Here is a video I made back then showing agents how: 

    If the listing agent does make a comment, it is immediately visable on the property detail page immediately.  Here the agent can say something like – “too low because this house had the whole basement finished” or something.  Great marketing opportunity to continue “selling” the home directly on the page.

    • Thanks for sharing Sara. This is definitely a cool feature. However, do you think that an agent might be biased about their own listings? At HawaiiLife we’re having the exact opposite thought…all local Realtors can contribute to our Value Score excluding the listing agent.

      • Don’t you think only having realtors contribute is going to bias the estimates high? Realtors make more money when houses sell for higher prices…so what is their incentive to not inflate their estimates?

        • @drewmeyers:disqus – Great point Drew. What I was getting at is that you shouldn’t let the listing agent participate, as Zillow does, as they will be more biased than other Realtors.
          HawaiLife is going to allow clients to select their own comparables and create their own Value Scores, with the ability to share that selection of comparables with others.

        • Clearly true.  Listing agents will only comment when the estimate is low, not when it is high.  That’s just sales, though. 

        • Clearly true.  Listing agents will only comment when the estimate is low, not when it is high.  That’s just sales, though. 

      • We did have the ability for anyone to comment on homes years ago, agent or shopper.  It actually wasn’t a much used feature so we did away with it.  But retained the ability for the listing agent only to comment.

  • Chase Thompson

    I think it’s an interesting question, is it too late? Well Apple was late to the cell phone game, and we all saw how that turned out.

    Now I’m not wanting to compare Trulia with Apple, although I don’t think they’d mind. What I mean to say is, a well executed entrance with true innovation has a chance to win.

    So it’ll be interesting to see how Zillow reacts, and what Trulia continues to do.

    • Agreed Chase, I think the door is wide open for someone to come in and win through innovation in the property valuation game. But Trulia’s Estimates are not ground breaking like Apple’s iPhone.

      The value of a home is what somebody is willing to pay for it. And I think it’s interesting that both the Trulia Estimate and Zillow Zestimate for my example property–given that it was sold less than 2 months ago–are so much higher than the sales price. Zillow being closer to the sales price, in my mind, is more accurate.

      If you want to see something completely out of the box, go check out HawaiiLife’s Value Score. I’m not saying it’s better, but at least we’re not following.

  • Looking forward to seeing Hawaii Life’s Value Score. Truly innovators are rewarded.

    Nonetheless, Zillow may have a head start but from speaking to clients and other agents, there is a general consensus that Zestimates can be wildly inaccurate. Not to say that they haven’t been tweaking their algorithms but there is still opportunity for Trulia and others to successfully compete and increase market share.

    • Aloha Alex,

      I agree, at least in Hawaii, “Zestimates can be wildly inaccurate,” which has caused in-house disagreements as to whether we should include Zestimates on our property pages, and the reason we were forced to create our Value Score.

      I think if you look at HawaiiLife’s Value Score, you will see something truly innovative, and though still in beta, already more accurate than anything else on the market.

      I’d love some feedback if you have the time.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the article Justin… Good stuff. I think the “value score” idea is truly unique and innovative. Will there be a wordpress plugin in the future?!

    Would think Trulia would have something additional, or even just different, to add to the “Estimates” program. Or, maybe I’m just disappointed that it doesn’t have a flashier name…


    • @JeffRiber:disqus – In order to implement something similar to HawaiiLife’s Value Score, we need access to the MLS (including sold data). We could include it in a version of our real estate search engine, which people ask us to license all the time, but we haven’t seen a real estate company in the nation with our business model. Everyone we talk to wants forced registration. Like, this is something we do NOT believe in.

  • Tina

    How do home sellers benefit from a estimation that couldn’t possibly take into consideration all local and home specific factors?  

    • @c8fdf80cd6a730ae97f28a04d3d83a4e:disqus – Seller’s benefit because they can look at estimates of sold properties in their location. Then, by researching the public data of the sold properties (i.e. sold price, assessed value) and doing a little math, the Seller can arrive at a fair price to list their home.

      By using data and taking their emotions out of it, Sellers will sell their home quickly instead of coming into the market overpriced and losing potential buyers even after you’ve done a price reduction some time later.

      • I’d agree with Tina here.  Vendors of estimates benefit, but sellers do not.  Sellers already have closed sales data and tax data.  That’s the best comp info they can get for pricing their home.

      • I’d agree with Tina here.  Vendors of estimates benefit, but sellers do not.  Sellers already have closed sales data and tax data.  That’s the best comp info they can get for pricing their home.

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