Zillow vs. Redfin: Hidden features, tricks, and tips!

Uncategorized May 01, 2023

The Zillow vs. Redfin debate is kind of like the Apple vs. Android debate.

One is much much more popular but they kind of cut corners and it's kind of all about that name recognition. Whereas the other one actually might have some really good features that you're missing out on.

When you just go with the big name, the split between the two isn't that exact, but let's go ahead and dive into it.  

One of the tools that I use a lot is Redfin, and a lot of people ask me why don't you use Zillow, or can you use Zillow, and yes for most things you could do either or on Zillow.

But today I just want to break down the difference between the two, and what I like more for different parts of the investing and wholesaling process. I think that these are two really good free alternatives to PropStream.

Now PropStream is definitely going to take you to another level, but PropStream is $97 a month, so I recommend that you get started using Redfin or Zillow. 

And if you want to try out PropStream, I have a seven day free trial link for you down in the description so you can feel that out as well.

I'll also link to some PropStream tutorials, but for now we're gonna focus on the free options and I'll let you know what I think of each.

Comparison #1: User Interface

First up, let's talk about aesthetics, because I think that when you're spending hours on your computer looking for deals and making offers, how well the user interface works is actually really really important. And in my opinion, Redfin has the much better UI.

So if I come to Zillow and I'm looking in my market, it's going to show me a bunch of properties for sale, and I can sort different homes, ones that are recommended for me, from high to low prices, newest on the market, beds, baths, etc.

I've also got filters up here that say more, and I can put in keywords or I can look for different filters and I can search by house type.

If I want to click on a property, it opens it up and then I can scroll through the pictures, read the description, etc. This is fine, but it's not giving me “this is made for me” type feelings. 

Whereas if I go over to Redfin and I search in the same market, it's going to show me everything I need at a glance, where I have a map here and then I have a list over here. But the best thing about Redfin is they have this table view. 

So in the top right hand corner you could click on photos and that would be more similar to Zillow's view. But I also have a table, and the reason that I really like this table is because for one I can sort just at the click of a button.

So I can sort by price, low to high, just by clicking the word price. I can sort bedrooms, I can sort the number of bathrooms, and I can sort by size.

Just one click is so much easier than on Zillow, where I have to come over here to homes and then I can only see that. So I really like also seeing all the information laid out because it's much easier to compare.

And the next reason that is really really important is that I don't have to leave this page to see pictures.

So if I want to see pictures, I can flip through right here on this screen. Whereas on Zillow if I want to see pictures I have to actually open up that property and go into it.

This is really useful, especially when you're looking at properties on your phone. Just being able to swipe from the main screen and seeing the pictures versus having to click and then wait for it to load and open up is actually going to be a huge time saver.

So I do think that this home page is a lot easier to move around and organize things quickly.

I didn't show you this, but you can also see what's come on the market most recently with Redfin again just at the click of a button by sorting.

So I can see what's on the market most recently and what's been on the market longest. Aside from the sort feature, Zillow also has the keywords feature where you can come down here and you can type in keywords.

If I wanted to see all the properties that have been flipped, I might type in something like “brand new” and that will show me all the properties that have the words brand new in the description. Then I can click and I can look and this might give me an idea of where investors are buying properties to flip them, what the price points for flip properties in my market are, really good information to look for using those keywords.

Again, you can do that here where it says “more” and scroll down. If I only wanted to look at houses and I didn't want to look at multi-family or manufactured townhomes or anything like that, I can do that here as well.

You can also look at just multifamily and sort that way, but on Redfin I just think this one is prettier and easier to use. Everything's in one spot. When I come up here to “more filters,” I can see all of the things I want to sort by, and my property type.

So if I want to have a minimum number of beds, I can look at only things that have two beds and up, and if I want to look at only houses I can look at only houses there or only multi-family. It's same thing as Zillow, I just think it looks nicer.

And again, I can scroll down and I could look for as-is sales in my market that are two bedrooms and up, only houses, etc.

So that's my feelings about who wins the user interface and how pretty and how easy it is to use. 

That point definitely goes to Redfin.

Next up, let's talk about the information that you get from each site.

Comparison #2: Information

So I'm going to pick a random property and pull it up on both sides so that we can get an idea of what info Redfin is showing us versus the info that Zillow is showing us.

So here's the property. We've got the same one open on Redfin and on Zillow, and we started with Zillow last time, so start with Redfin.

One great thing about Redfin is that it doesn't just show you the price, but it also shows you the price per square foot, and that can be really useful when comparing apples to apples.

So if I'm comparing this three-bedroom two-bathroom house to a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house, I know that this one should technically sell for more because it's a bigger house.

But if this one is in totally horrible condition and it's selling for 99 dollars a square foot, and then I've got a brand new house freshly rehabbed that's two bedrooms, one bathroom so it's a little smaller it might sell for less in terms of dollar amount but that price per square foot is probably going to be higher because the condition of the house is a lot better.

This one might be $99, that one might be $115 just because it's nicer.

So being able to see the price per square foot pretty simply is a really good feature about the information Redfin is giving you.

Another great thing is that we can see when this house last sold, which we can also see on Zillow. But on Redfin, if the house was listed for sale it will oftentimes show us that listing and the old pictures. So this might help us when we're looking at a house that has been flipped. We could see what the pictures looked like the last time it was for sale. 

Maybe it was in horrible condition and then a flipper bought it. You might want to contact that person because there might be a cash buyer. So we scroll down and it says the sale history.

You can see all property history. We can see that this property sold in 2013 for $111,000 and we could go in and see that listing. 

There's only one picture here because that's all they posted. If they posted more, we would be able to see all of those pictures, but we can see what the description was as well which can help us get more information about the house.

So that's really useful on Redfin. Zillow doesn't often have the old listing pictures and description, but what Zillow did have until recently was pretty nice.

So here's the property on Zillow and we don't have the price per square foot anywhere, but one thing that I do really like which seems really simple but it's actually very useful is that Zillow actually used to give you the contact information for the listing agent.

So if we scroll all the way down, I see that they took it out. This is wild, because one of the big things that I used Zillow for was to get the listing agent's contact information. 

For those of you who are familiar with the double dip strategy that I learned from watching Jerry Norton's Youtube channel, using the listing agent to help you wholesale on-market properties is absolute gold.

That means you don't want to be contacting a buyer's agent, you want to be contacting a listing agent.

When you go to Zillow it shows you listed by Tracy Ellis and on Redfin it's also going to show you listed by Tracy Ellis but Zillow used to put the listing agent's cell phone number right here for you. So it was super useful to just click on that hyperlink and automatically give the listing agent a call.

Whereas on Redfin, you just have to copy and paste their name and the brokerage that they work for and then Google it and get their cell phone number. It doesn't take a ton of time, but it is just much more convenient and you're saving like 20-30 seconds from looking for and Googling the contact information. 

But Zillow has removed that information, and so I was gonna give Zillow this point but it's kind of up in the air now.

I think the reason that they're really not making it easy for you to find the listing agent's contact information is because both Zillow and Redfin make money by connecting you with a buyer's agent.

And so they want you to take a tour with a buyer's agent and they want you to work with these buyers' agents because Zillow and Redfin are both now purchasing homes directly from homeowners.

And so they also want to get in on the other side of that and make some money when people buy a house, and so when you work with the listing agent, Zillow makes no money.

Nut if you work with one of their buyer's agents they will. It's the same thing with Redfin. Oftentimes you'll see the Redfin partner agent.

That's their buyer's agent, and they want you to work with them as well because they'll make some money.

So I think that Zillow removed that, but I was going to give them that point.

A point that they do get, if you come to the “price and tax history,” this is gold right here, usually Zillow is going to link you to the tax history on this property. It's going to show you the property taxes and how they've changed over the years, but it's also going to link you to the county assessor's website. 

So if we click on that link, it's going to open up and it's going to take you to that specific page on the county assessor's website. And it's just going to give you a ton more information that is super super useful.

So it'll show you what the county thinks the fair market value is, it'll show you the owner's information, it'll show you similar properties, the last couple of sales, who it was sold to, what price, old pictures, etc.

So we've got pictures here and we've got the blueprint and further information about the property.

So just looking at this right here, this is probably a duplex because you've got two entrances two porches and you could cut this right down the middle.

Having these blueprints can really help you get an understanding of what the layout for the property is if the pictures aren't good enough and you can go ahead and calculate the square footage for yourself if you think that maybe they're not being so honest on the listing.

So getting linked to the county assessor's website is absolutely really really great by Zillow. So although I'm kind of bummed that they didn't have the contact information for the listing agent anymore, by getting that county assessor's information I'm going to give Zillow half a point in the information category over Redfin.


Comparison #3: Rental Listings Info

The next category that I think is really useful is whether or not you have access to rental listings. On Redfin it is just buy or sell, but for Zillow you've got much more information than this, so you can look at rentals.

We'll come back to that in a moment, but even when you're buying you can look at the for sale by owner properties and these are ones that are not listed with a real estate agent.

A lot of times they're in bad condition because the person doesn't want to fix it up to have to list it with a real estate agent. And there can be some gold in calling these homeowners directly, so having access to FSBO or for sale by owner with Zillow is a big plus. 

And not only do you have the FSBO leads, you also have rental listings. In this post, I was cold calling what Brent Daniels from TTP calls “the secret Zillow list,” which is calling below market value rentals that are kind of run down, a little cheap, and with low quality pictures to see if those landlords would be willing to sell the property. 

Because it's vacant, you know that they need to fill it. Maybe rather than renting it out, they just want to sell it. 

And so having access to rental listings is absolutely great, and Redfin doesn't have that at all.

Plus this is another thing Zillow has, this Zillow rent estimator, which is actually pretty accurate.

So, if I want to type in an address and I want to know what could it possibly rent for because I'm thinking about buying it or wholesaling it, Zillow will show me my rent estimate as well as a range and it will show me other properties around that property that have been rented out recently.

And so I can look at the pictures from those other properties and see “that was a freshly renovated property, mine should rent similar” or “that was not freshly renovated, so mine is going to rent for more than that.”

So this is super useful the rental information and the for sale by owner information. You don't get that on Redfin, so Zillow is definitely getting the point in this category.


Comparison #4: Running Comps

The final category, which I think is probably maybe most important to most wholesalers, is how you run comps on these different sites.

I have a video about how I run comps on PropStream, but doing it on a free site like Redfin or Zillow is not going to be perfect because these sites were made for people who want to buy a house to live in.

They were not made for investors in the way that PropStream is so it's a little difficult, but I truly think that Redfin is a lot better in this category.

Reason being, when you open up this map on Redfin it has this button that says “map nearby homes for sale” and if you hit that it takes you back to a page we’re more familiar with. 

I can look at this neighborhood and if I'm looking at this area right here I can outline it. Then I can look and see by changing my filters that I can flip to “sold.”

I can look in the last three months, last six months, or the last year.

Let's just take six months, and then I can sort by the ones that were most expensive and I can click through and very easily see the pictures to know if this is a good comp. 

I can read the description and I can do that from one page for all of the properties, just scrolling through them, whereas on Zillow if I was to do this, I would click on the map and I would have no option on seeing what has recently sold. That is not so great, so the map function there doesn't help me out much.

I could go down to “homes for me,” which are homes that they think are similar, but this is going to be based off of all of the homes that I've been clicking on throughout the day, or for however long they've been tracking me and leaving cookies.

But it's not going to be specific to this house, so “homes for you” isn't that great. With “similar homes,” I can click through and see here, but I don't know what criteria they're using. 

If I want to use the last three months, then I can do that on Redfin.

I can make sure that I know exactly what I'm using. If I want to outline an area, I can't really do that on Zillow. I don't know what their criteria are, and I can't see pictures.

From here, I have to actually click in and go to those pictures. The only way that I would say you could get close to running your comps on Zillow in the way that you can on Redfin is to actually physically go to this property. 

So here's the property we're looking at, and take note of the crossroads. Then I would go out of this, switch this from for rent to for sale, and I go find the address. And now I can remove their boundary, draw my own the same way I did on Redfin, and hit apply.

And then rather than “for sale,” I can hit “sold” and I can look through these properties.

But again, I've got to click in to see what their pictures look like, and having everything in this table lets me compare things much easier. I could say oh that's a three bedroom, I'm gonna ignore everything else doing it on this.

Redfin, to me, it's just much much easier, and the way that Redfin looks is very similar to PropStream.

So it’ll be very easy to learn up on Redfin, switch to PropStream and have every button and things almost in the exact same place, so I think that's pretty nice too.

In the comps category, I definitely give Redfin this point.

So those are my thoughts, and that's why I use Redfin.



So, now that you've gotten an intro to Zillow vs. Redfin, are you ready to start?

If so, you can use my Free Resource Pack to help get your real estate investing journey off the ground. It includes:

  1. My Offer Sheet Template
  2. My Phone Scripts for Calling Real Estate Agents
  3. The Wholesaling Deal Tracker

So what are you waiting for?

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