The Best (and Worst) Home-Buying Sites

Photo (cc) by splityarn

Still think the housing market is in a slump? Realtor Magazine begs to differ. According to its research, houses are flying off the market in some areas:

  • San Francisco, Calif. – 45 days on the market (median)
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. – 45 days
  • Bakersfield, Calif. – 44 days
  • Fresno, Calif. – 43 days
  • Anchorage, Alaska – 43 days
  • Denver, Colo. – 33 days
  • Oakland, Calif. – 24 days

If you live in one of those markets, you’ll need to hustle to find a house before someone else snatches it up. If you live outside of those markets, you’ve got a little more time – about 84 days on average, says the magazine.

Home-buying websites (and their apps) may be speeding up that process. They’ve got loads of listings, tons of photos, and easily sorted databases that could save you time. But in reality, some are a waste of time. We checked out the biggest…

1. Zillow

Zillow is my favorite home-browsing site, if only for the sheer volume of information available. You get listings, mortgage rates, advice columns, and local info. In my area, they have more listings than any site mentioned here. They contain photos, information about the property, the number of days it’s been listed on Zillow, and the selling price. And best of all, Zillow estimates your monthly mortgage payment in the listing – so I don’t have to do the math before I think, “Whoa, I can’t afford that.”

Zillow also has apps for Android, Android tablet, Blackberry, iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, and Windows Phone.

2. Trulia

If you browse the Sunday home listings in your local paper, then Trulia’s layout will look familiar. The listings are posted down the front page, starting with the newest. You can sort them by the usual ways – size, location, and price, for example – but Trulia also has a few unique search features:

  • Type of listing – sort by price reductions, newest listings, and upcoming open houses
  • Foreclosure type – sort by houses under a notice of default, those going to auction, and real estate owned property
  • Keywords – sort by anything you want

The only problem I found with Trulia was that the site automatically pulled my location – and missed it by about 40 miles.

Trulia also has an app for the iPhone.

3. Homes.com

In my opinion, the layout of Homes.com is its best feature. The listings are posted in a grid, with the two most important things prominently displayed: a photo and the price. In fact, this was one of the few sites that showed large enough photos on the home page that I didn’t have to open the listing to see if I liked the house.

Of course, if you want more information, Homes.com has that too. You can search by specifics such as listing type, year built, size, and features.

Homes.com also has apps for Android, Android tablet, iPad, iPhone, and Windows Phone. They also have a mobile website accessible on any smartphone.

4. HomeFinder.com

HomeFinder.com had a few features I liked. For example, every listing shows information about the neighborhood, like the percentage of renters vs. homeowners, nearby schools, and recent tax assessments. But I couldn’t get past the ads – multiple ads on every page. And their mortgage estimate info links to a single mortgage company.

HomeFinder.com also has apps for Android and iPhone. There’s also a mobile website for smartphones.

5. ChoiceofHomes.com

ChoiceofHomes.com is an ironic name, considering that other sites found more than 100 listings in my ZIP Code – and this site found only one. And they’re the only one of these sites without an app.

Those are my five favorite (and least favorite) home-buying sites, and while they may help you find a house, you’ll still need to do another search for a mortgage. Do that with the Money Talks News search tool.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams

You can spot scammers and con artists with a little know-how.

5 Ways to Save at Dollar Tree
5 Ways to Save at Dollar Tree

Yes, it’s possible to pay less than a buck for items from a dollar store.

17 Surprising Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher
17 Surprising Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher

It’s often easier and faster to put these household items in the dishwasher than to clean them by hand.

9 Purchases That Will Make You More Productive
9 Purchases That Will Make You More Productive

These Amazon products can give you an extra edge at work and other parts of your life.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

The Next 5 Groups Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
The Next 5 Groups Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

The CDC has unveiled a schedule that likely will determine who gets the next doses.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.