According to the National Association of Realtors, only 44 percent of people who purchased a home in 2015 found the homes using an Internet search. But with millions of homes for sale across the United States, not using online tools to find real estate means that consumers may miss their perfect houses.

The Internet has made it possible for house hunters to views hundreds of home listings. Real estate websites offer search tools and information that make it possible for homebuyers and renters to find homes with all the features they want.

Top 10 Best Rated Real Estate Websites

realtor.com, owned by Move Inc., is the official website for the National Association of Realtors. It has real estate listings from the MLS for homebuyers and tools for homeowners looking to sell their homes.
Redfin was founded in 2006, offering search tools for real estate shoppers. Now, it is a full-service brokerage website operating in most states. Its website allows for detailed searching, and its app offers instant updates.
PropertyRecord.com sells reports about properties that include estimated value, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square feet, lot size, year built and more. It uses algorithms and human review to provide high quality reports.
HomeFinder.com started in 1997 and is owned by three media companies. The site has detailed listing information on all types of real estate available for purchase or rental throughout the United States.
BlockShopper combines a news sites with real estate information. The site lets users browse properties in very specific areas, even specifying particular streets. Currently, it only shows information for large cities.
Zillow is a Seattle-based company that lists property from MLS and other sources, has mortgage information, decorating and remodeling ideas, an agent finder and more. It was established in 2006 and is part of the Zillow Group.
Century 21 has franchise locations in nearly 80 countries. Consumers can search for all available properties, regardless of the listing agent, on the company’s website. The site only connects consumers to Century 21 realtors.
Coldwell Banker is a real estate firm with agents across the United States and over 40 other countries. Their website lists all properties for sale in the area searched but only connects consumers to Coldwell Banker realtors.
RealtyTrac specializes in showing properties that are for sale as a result of foreclosure. Consumers must sign-up and pay for a RealtyTrac account to be able to search for properties. A free trial is available.
Reply Real Estate also operates as AgentConnect.com. The site is a part of BuyerLink, which helps companies connect with local customers. For a fee, real estate professionals can join Reply Real Estate to find new leads.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.

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What real estate website features matter most to homebuyers?

Search features

Finding the perfect house is challenging, but real estate sites make it easier by giving you the option to search hundreds of homes from the comfort of your current home.

  • Map: If you are looking in a specific area, sites with an easy-to-use map feature will make your search much simpler. On some sites, you can limit your search to particular geographic locations even if they cross over city or county lines or multiple zip codes.
  • Filters: Once you’ve selected the area you want to live in, you can narrow your search by home type, price, the number of bedrooms/bathrooms, age, lot size and other features.
  • Keywords: Some sites also allow you to enter keywords when searching properties. If, for example, you want a house with hardwood floors, you can enter that as a search term.
  • Images: All sites will show you pictures of the property if the listing agent or owner has posted them. Some sites also feature virtual walk-throughs.

Update frequency and notifications

If you’re looking for a house in a competitive housing market, it can be beneficial to see new listings quickly. Real estate websites help you do so.

  • Frequency: Although different websites update their information at different rates, all of them will provide more up-to-date listings than older avenues, like print newspapers. Many sites update as often as every 15 minutes.
  • Email notifications: You can create e-mail alerts so you’ll receive notifications every time a new property matching your criteria is listed.
  • App-based notifications: Websites that have mobile apps can alert you to new listings, price drops and other changes through the app.

Market information

You can easily access financial information related to a specific property on real estate sites.

  • Property values: On the property listing page, you can see a breakdown of price per square foot, estimated property value, last selling price, changes to the listing price and other details about the value of the listed property.
  • Mortgage estimates: Mortgage estimating tools show you an estimated monthly mortgage for any property when you enter your down payment amount, approximate credit score and term of the loan you wish to take out.
  • Property taxes: Sites can pull data from public records to provide you with an estimated property tax for a given property. Knowing annual property taxes in advance can help you purchase a home that is affordable in the long term.

Neighborhood information

The location of a house or apartment is an important factor in choosing a new home. Real estate sites show you details to help you select the perfect neighborhood.

  • School district ratings: Websites use other online information to give you a sense of the quality of the school district where the property is. Different websites use different information to rank schools, so look at multiple sites to get an accurate picture.
  • Crime statistics: Although it is easy to find crime reports online, some websites make it easy to see crime near a particular property. Having information about a neighborhood’s safety can help you make the best choice when selecting a new home.
  • Local venues: If you’re moving to a new area, you probably aren’t familiar with what kind of businesses are near a house or apartment. Some sites show you nearby businesses and may even show reviews of those businesses.

Recommendations

Real estate websites list contact information for many types of professionals who work in real estate or a related industry. Some sites also have recommendations and/or reviews from previous customers.

  • Realtors: All sites will make it easy for you to find a local real estate agent who can show you local properties that are available for sale or rent.
  • Contractors: If you want to have upgrades or repairs done on your new home, you can use real estate website to find local contractors. These sites can also help you find someone who builds new homes.
  • Lenders: Both real estate websites and realtors can help you connect with local lenders to finance your new home.
  • Home inspectors: Before purchasing a new home, you will need to have it inspected by a professional. Use websites’ directories or forums to find a qualified person in your area.

Real estate partners

You should be aware of whether or not a real estate website partners with specific realtors or realty firms if you are using the site to get recommendations about a local professional.

  • Corporate site: Websites operated by real estate firms list all local properties for sale in your area, but they will only recommend realtors who work for them.
  • Fee-paying partners: Realtors can often pay a fee to be listed as premier agents on websites that are not associated with any specific real estate company.
  • No affiliation: Some sites do not offer realtors a membership or partner option. These sites might sell ad space so you will still see realtor listings on these sites.

What are different types of real estate websites?

Free

Free sites are available for anyone to search. To use these sites, homebuyers do not need to purchase a subscription or have a real estate license. Posting a rental or house that is for-sale-by-owner may or may not be free.

Subscription

Certain sites allow house hunters to search for properties in their area, but will only provide them with the exact address if they purchase a subscription.

Listing type

Some sites cater to those looking to purchase a home, while others serve to people looking to rent a house or apartment.

Classified

Most newspapers have online versions of their classified section, including local estate listing. These sites may be seen by a different audience than sites that are not associated with a certain location.

Who should use real estate websites?

Homebuyers

Anyone looking to purchase a home will be able to see more options and narrow in on the perfect home by using these online resources.

Renters

Individuals who are not ready to buy can use these sites to find rental properties and to find information about neighborhoods where rental properties are located.

Homeowners

Homeowners can periodically check these sites to estimate their home’s value.

Real estate professionals

Real estate agents can use sites to advertise their services and build their reputation by answering questions in forums.

Company reviews

  • HomeFinder.com

    HomeFinder.com collects listings from partner newspapers, realtors, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and other sources. It makes those listing available to consumers on a single website. The site has tools for homebuyers, renters and real estate professionals. The company was founded 1997 and is owned by Gannett Co. Inc., The McClatchy Co. and Tribune Co., with headquarters in Chicago.

    • Best for HomeFinder.com has tools for homebuyers, renters and real estate professionals, and the site’s property listings feature useful information for all individuals.
  • realtor.com

    Move, Inc. owns and operates realtor.com. It is the official website of the National Association of Realtors and uses data from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

    • Best for realtor.com has tools and listing for both house hunters and sellers, and it has special resources for those looking for market trends and news.
  • Redfin

    Redfin was established in 2006 in the Pacific Northwest with the goal of making the real estate industry more consumer-friendly. It is a real estate brokerage website whose agents do not work on commission, and its real estate website lets consumers search MLS listings. The company now operates in most U.S. states and advertises that it has helped consumers save $300 million.

    • Best for Redfin is best for all potential homebuyers who are concerned with customer service and cost savings.
  • Trulia

    Trulia launched in 2005 and is operated by the Zillow Group. The company focuses on providing neighborhood information to house hunters and renters, but it also has features to help real estate professionals. Consumers can access Trulia online or by using the company’s iOS or Android app. The site lists both properties that are for sale and for rent.

    • Neighborhood information: Property listing pages tell interested homebuyers what restaurants, grocery stores, entertainment venues, shopping districts and parks are near the home. The website can also display local reviews of those establishments.
    • Crime data: Each property listing on Trulia shows information about crime reported in the neighborhood. Users can browse reports by date or view them on a map. Data comes from SpotCrime.com and CrimeReports.com.
    • Commute estimate: Individuals concerned with the time it will take them to get to work can use Trulia’s commute calculator. The calculator can show the estimated time for driving, walking or biking as well as public transportation options.
    • Request information: Interested buyers or renters can easily request information about a listed property from the listing page. Their contact information will be sent to one of Trulia’s partner real estate agents, who pay to be listed on the site. Consumers can use the same form to request financing information.
    • Trulia resource: Homebuyers and renters will all find the Trulia website helpful. The Trulia Community section allows users to ask and answer real estate related questions, and the company’s blog has informational and news articles about real estate.
    • Best for Trulia is best for homebuyers and renters who want information about the neighborhoods in which a listed property is located.

  • MLS.com

    The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a real estate listing service and advertising agency for realtors and brokers. MLS does not list any properties, but instead allows realtors and brokers to advertise properties listed with them. Most real estate websites pull information from MLS.com.

    • Education: Those considering buying a house can use the MLS website to learn basic real estate details and terms. Their glossary page has definitions most consumers will find useful.
    • Partner websites: MLS works with several other websites to provide consumers with listing information on houses, rental properties, foreclosures, condo and other types of real estate.
    • Agent education: MLS partners with educational institutions and websites to offer online courses for real-estate related fields. Subjects include selling property, giving appraisals and performing home inspections.
    • New home search: Homebuyers who want to purchase a newly-built home can search for contractors and developers on MLS.com. The website will show houses and developments currently under construction.
    • Best for MLS is best for real estate professionals and consumers looking for new-construction homes.

  • Zillow.com

    Zillow was launched by two former Microsoft executives in 2006. It is owned by the Zillow Group and makes a profit by selling ad space on the website and through its partner with U.S. newspapers to provide real estate searches on their websites. Zillow lists all types of real estate available for sale and rent.

    • Best for Zillow is best for house hunters, renters, homeowners and real estate agents.
  • Homes.com

    Homes.com has a long history in real estate advertising. It originally existed as Homes & Land Magazine, which began publication in 1973. The magazine began publishing digitally in the 1990s and later became Homes.com. The site is now owned by Dominion Enterprises and headquartered in Norfolk, Va. The site lists properties that are for sale and rent.

    • Local professionals: Homebuyers still looking for a real estate agent, mortgage banker, home inspector or other real-estate related professional can find listings on Homes.com.
    • Blog: Homes.com has a blog with informative articles on buying a home, moving, building and remodeling a house and much more.
    • Forums: Homebuyers, renters and homeowners can all post real estate questions on the forums on Homes.com’s website. Although anyone can answer other users’ questions, most questions are answered by real estate professionals.
    • Search options: Site visitors can easily browse for a specific type of home or property, like a multi-family home or empty lot. Users can then narrow their search from there.
    • Best for Homes.com is best for house hunters and renters.

11 – 14 Best Rated Real Estate Websites

RE/MAX is a global real estate firm. All consumers can search RE/MAX’s website for properties, but they must create a free account to access some features like photo galleries. All inquiries are directed to RE/MAX agents.