The lighter side of real estate

The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide to Real Estate Websites

With the onslaught of real estate websites, home buyers now must decide which to use. Movoto stacked up the competition to see how the sites compare.

Kristin Crosier


44 articles, 3 comments

Shopping for a home has never been easier, thanks to the likes of Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn (they helped invent the Internet). Home buyers can now quickly navigate online real estate listings and databases without the pain of blindly drifting among real estate agents ready to pounce.

Yet with the onslaught of real estate-related websites, a new problem has emerged for home buyers: deciding which site to use.

In the interest of helping buyers new to these home search tools, Movoto Real Estate stacked up the competition to shed some light on the many online real estate moguls.

After examining each website’s strengths, weaknesses, and usability, we awarded one company from each category as the online real estate all-star. Read on to find out Movoto’s top picks.

Meet the Players

In the online real estate marketplace, there are three main types of sites: real estate search engines, online brokerages, and what Movoto likes to call “Brick and Mortar,” or real estate companies that existed pre-Internet and have since added online services.

  • Real estate search engines: Offer listings and public data for individual properties–whether on market or not; include websites such as Zillow, Trulia,, and
  • Online brokerages: Provide information from a variety of sources about available properties and send potential clients to partnering agents; include Movoto Real Estate, Redfin,, and Neighborcity
  • Brick and Mortars: Franchise of real estate offices with online services; include companies such as Century 21, RE/MAX, and Coldwell Banker

Look no further than our handy sortable graphic tool to find out how the major players compare.

Embed Infographic

And the Winners Are…

In the Online Brokerages Category…
Top-rated brokerage website Redfin stood out with innovative and user-friendly functions such as:

  • The ability to choose an agent directly from the listing page
  • Up-to-date information on upcoming open houses
  • The option to select favorite homes or “x-out” less favorable properties (with an account)
  • Website design that is incredibly easy to for first-timers to understand

In the Online Real Estate Search Engines Category…
Real estate marketplace Zillow impressed us with its extensive listing features, including:

  • Its signature home valuation tool, the Zestimate
  • The ability to compare public facts with combined facts for a more complete property description
  • A property-specific monthly payment calculator
  • Contact information for an actual agent

In the Brick & Mortar Category…
Franchise company Century 21 blew its competitors off of the map with its selection of data and user tools such as:

  • Efficient calculator tools on refinancing, renting vs. buying, and affordability
  • Detailed information about nearby schools, including a parent rating
  • Easy-to-understand demographic bar graphs
  • Local weather averages


The Movoto blog is a service of Movoto Real Estate. If you’re looking for a new home, keep us in mind. We have up-to-date real estate listings and local agents throughout the country. When you want to take a break from browsing homes, you can keep coming back to read awesome blog posts like this one.

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posted on: November 26, 2012
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