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Zillow Pre-Market Listings Are Misleading to Buyers

Zillow, a third party real estate site, rolled out a new search feature last year called Pre-Market Listings which is causing a great deal of frustration, confusion, and disappointment for both home buyers and real estate agents.

When a home buyer goes to Zillow’s home page search portal, they can click on the blue house icon, “Pre-Market.”

When a home buyer goes to Zillow’s home page search portal, they can click on the blue house icon, “Pre-Market.”

The problem is most of these homes are not actually for sale and may never be for sale.  Most Pre-Market homes are just properties where the lender has initiated foreclosure proceedings because the owners were behind in their mortgage payments. Some of these listings are foreclosed homes, but this doesn’t mean the home is for sale. And if they were for sale, it would be a long time before they went on the market as the foreclosure process in Massachusetts takes over a year.

In fact the owners of the homes often aren’t even aware their home is being featured on Zillow’s Pre-Market Listings.

Once an official notice from a lender has been served to a homeowner, Zillow pulls the public record, posts a Google street view image of the home, the address, and some details. The homeowner is not allowed to opt out of having their home publicly listed.

Zillow pulls the public record, posts a Google street view image of the home, the address, and some details

Zillow has published disclaimers on their site saying: “Be aware that a home listed under the pre-foreclosure category is a home that is not necessarily for sale.”

Even the home page says: “Be first in line to see U.S. homes not yet on the market.

Even the home page says: “Be first in line to see U.S. homes not yet on the market.”

But many home buyers don’t see these statements and assume because homes are listed alongside listings pulled from MLS that they must be for sale and available to see when neither is the case.

Real estate agents are frustrated by Pre-Market Listings as well.

The current low inventory of homes has prompted home buyers to search for Pre-Market Listings they think are for sale. Since so many listings show up in their search, buyers mistakenly believe these are also for sale. Many times when they contact their Buyer’s Agent to schedule a showing for these Pre-Market homes, they don’t believe when Agents say the homes are not for sale.

We’ve received a lot of feedback from our Buyer’s Agents and also from Agents outside our company. They all say they are seeing this happen with buyers more and more.

We advise home buyers that the best way to use Zillow is to select the red house icon on Zillow when searching, which only shows homes that are actually for sale. They should not select the blue Pre-Market icon when searching. If a home is for sale it will show up— even if it is a foreclosure— when you select the red house icon, so you can be sure you are not missing out on all homes on the market.

When you select the red house icon, so you can be sure you are not missing out on all homes on the market.

Pre-Market Listing Sample

We pulled sample data on homes across the state to see which Pre-Market listings are actually for sale. As you can see, most of these listings are not for sale on MLS and many will never be on the market. Homes in this list that actually are for sale will show up when you select the red house icon when searching on Zillow or they would show up on an MLS feed. So the best way to avoid disappointment is to avoid searching Pre-Market Listings altogether. That way you will not miss out on anything.

Address

For Sale On MLS

Order of Notice from Lender

Elmwood Ave, Waltham, MA

No

8/22/2013

Whipple St, Worcester, MA

No

11/13/2013

Regina Dr, Chelmsford, MA

No

6/18/2013

Birch Hill Drive, Methuen

Yes

8/14/2013

Swan Street, Beverly

No

unable to find

Puritan Dr, Scituate

Yes

6/21/2013

Brook Road, Plymouth

No

3/15/2013

Oak Street, Taunton

No

11/15/2013

Holly Tree Lane, Wareham

No

11/7/2013

South Street, Westborough

No

6/24/2013

Lincoln Ave, Ashburnham

Yes

10/28/2013

Homestead Way, Topsfield

No

unable to find

Henry Street, Saugus

No

unable to find

Grant Street, Weymouth

No

11/21/2013

Oak Street, Mansfield

No

10/31/2013

Simpson Dr, Framingham

No

10/15/2013

Morrill Ave, Shrewsbury

Yes

8/9/2013

Abbott Ave, Leominster

No

11/18/2013

Pine Ridge Rd, Burlington

No

9/5/2013

Andrews St, Norwood

No

2/21/2013

(Street numbers were removed out of respect for the owners)

But to get the most up to date and accurate listings, buyers should use MLSPropertyFinder.

Many home buyers don’t realize that third-party aggregator websites like Zillow and Trulia actually get their listings from many different sources, not from a direct MLS feed like MLSPropertyFinder.

Because of this, these third party sites often have duplicate listings, out-of-date and even incorrect information. We see it all the time: a buyer wants to schedule a showing for home listed on one of these sites and the home has already sold, is under contract, or was taken off the market. This causes frustration for the buyer who must now start their search all over again.

Unlike third party sites, MLSPropertyFinder gets updated listing information straight from MLS every 15 minutes, alerts you to new homes on the market as they become available, and it’s absolutely free.

It’s the best products out there and that is why we offer it to our clients.

So if you are a home buyer and you are getting frustrated that you cannot find a home don’t  be fooled into thinking that Zillow’s Pre-Market list has any additional homes that you can buy.  Inventory is very low right now due to the market. So be patient because the right home will likely come on the market in the coming months.