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These days, most of the property listing platforms are basically house search engines and vice versa.

You might look for properties as a retail buyer, as an investor looking for profitable deals, or you might want to use house search engines as an individual seller or as a real estate professional to market your properties to potential buyers.

In both cases, buyers or sellers might wonder what the best house search engine is on the web?

For buyers, according to my analysis, the winner is Zillow with the largest inventory size of 110,000,000 properties.

If you are a real estate professional preferring to pay a monthly fee, then Realtor.com would be the best option.

Should you be an individual seller and don’t mind paying a commission, then RedFin would be the best candidate since it gets the second-largest amount of traffic per listing according to my calculations.

If you‘re an individual seller or real estate professional, preferring a per lead pricing model, then Trulia would be the best option.

If you would like to find out how I came about these results and how I analyzed the different property listing platforms or house search engines, then I invite you to read the rest of this article.

How to Determine the Quality of House Search Engines for Buyers and Sellers

Before we can actually determine which house search engine is best for buyers and sellers, we first need to know how to qualify them according to the needs of buyers and sellers using them.

What Do Sellers and/or Real Estate Professionals Want in a House Search Engine?

A seller and/or real estate professional primarily uses house search engines not to search properties (on occasions to check the competition and analyze a particular market) but to generate buyer leads.

So the questions they ask themselves is, how many buyers can the respective search engine reach?

How many buyers can it reach per individual listing page?

How much is the cost per lead (cost per acquisition/ CPA)?

And finally, how good is the quality of the leads generated?

The latter means how well you will be able to convert those leads into sales. The metric here is cost per sale.

So, below, I‘ve analyzed 11 house search engines/property listings portals in relation to monthly traffic volume.

I also investigated the total number of properties listed and put them into relation of the total traffic, so a calculation of traffic per individual listing page was possible.

Since the latter is an average number, it only approaches the reach per individual property listing page.

So, there are chances that these numbers differ on an individual basis.

Why?

Because in some areas, where a below-average number of properties are listed, fewer property listing pages have to share the same amount of traffic, which is beneficial to the seller.

I also investigated the pricing to use the platform as a seller and estimated the monthly quantity of leads, assuming a 3% traffic to lead conversion rate.

Based on this number, I calculated the estimated cost per lead.

Additionally, I checked which selling features were available to what type of sellers. Not all of the companies allow listing properties as an individual seller.

The summarized analysis criteria for sellers and/or real estate professionals:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume
  • AVG. Monthly Traffic Volume per Listing
  • Costs for Sellers/Real Estate Pros
  • Estimated number leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rate
  • Estimated Cost per Lead (assuming a 3% conversion rate)
  • Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sale conversion rate)
  • Selling Features Available
  • Size of Inventory

What Do Buyers Want in a House Search Engine?

The criteria are obviously different for buyers, such as retail buyers or real estate investors.

The main criteria here is the amount of market data that can be accessed, such as the size of the inventory, how up to date the information is, the cost of accessing the information, the depth and quality of market data (e.g., property value estimates, seller contact information, etc. ), and the overall usability, such as how good the data is graphically represented (e.g., map views).

For buyers, all the analyzed platforms or house search engines can be used free of charge.

They basically all offer the same quality of market data and overall usability in terms of search functionality.

Where they differ and what I used in the table is the size of the inventory, and I will provide this at the end of this article.

So, as a buyer, you might prefer a platform with a larger inventory size over one with a smaller one.

This number is also of interest to sellers, but it’s a double-edged sword since a significant inventory size also means more competition and more individual property pages having to share the same amount of traffic.

But at the same time, a certain inventory size is needed to attract enough buyers.

So, the only criteria I further analyzed from a buyer’s perspective was the inventory size, which was more or less the only metric that mattered due to the other features being quite similar and not much difference.

11 House Search Engines on the Market and How They Perform for Buyers and Sellers

1) Realtor.com

Realtor.com is based in Santa Clara, California, a real estate listing website that was launched in 1995.

It is a closed network for members of the National Association of Realtors.

So you won’t find or offer properties for sale by owners on this platform as an individual direct seller.

Although the website has less traffic than Zillow realtor.com, it has claimed in the past to have been the largest website in the United States for real estate listings (source).

According to Morgan Stanley, realtor.com has a value of $2.5 billion, and some of their website campaigns received recognition by Adweek and Webby Awards.

By the way, I have already mentioned one example of their advertising campaigns in this article, “What is the best real estate advertising”.

Relevant Stats:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume:144,980,000 (source)
  • Average Monthly Traffic Volume per Listing: 159
  • Costs for Sellers/Real Estate Pros: monthly flat fee between $200-$1,000 (price depends on zip code you buy), leads are not always exclusive
  • Estimated number of leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rate: 4.8
  • Estimated Cost per Lead (assuming a 3% conversion rate): $125.39
  • Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sales conversion rate):$1,253.94
  • Selling Features Available to: Exclusively realtors
  • Size of Inventory: 908,983

2) Homefinder.com

Homefinder.com is another house search engine and/or property listing platform where you can search and find homes for sale and rentals in the United States.

It includes millions of different properties in all 50 states, such as home foreclosures and rent to own homes.

The search results can be displayed in a map view, and once you view the property listing details, you get access to information, such as the detailed description, listing details at one glance, local information, assigned schools (schools close-by), loan information and nearby homes for sale.

Relevant Stats:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 1,530,000 (source)
  • Average Monthly Traffic Volume per Listing: 2
  • Costs for Sellers/Real Estate Pros: flat fee of $39 per property listing
  • Estimated number of leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rate: 0.054
  • Estimated Cost per Lead (assuming a 3% conversion rate): $726.40
  • Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sales conversion rate):$7,264
  • Selling Features Available to: Real Estate Professionals (e.g. Agents) and individual sellers
  • Size of Inventory: 854,917

3) Zillow/Trulia

If you read my article about Zillow vs. Trulia, you might know already that firstly, they are actually not competing with each other (Zillow purchased Trulia), and secondly, they are among the largest house search engine.

Relevant Stats for Zillow:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 297,150,000 (source)
  • Average Monthly Traffic Volume per Listing: 3
  • Costs for Sellers/Real Estate Pros: $20-$60 per lead
  • Estimated number of leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rate: 0.081
  • Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sales conversion rate):$400
  • Selling Features Available to: All types of sellers, individual ones and realtors
  • Size of Inventory: 110,000,000

Relevant Stats for Trulia:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 54,440,000 (source)
  • Average Monthly Traffic Volume per Listing: 3
  • Costs for Sellers/Real Estate Pros: $20-$60 per lead (Zillow’s Premier Agent Feature)
  • Estimated number of leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rate: 1.63
  • Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sales conversion rate):$400
  • Selling Features Available to: All types of sellers, individual ones and realtors
  • Size of Inventory: 1,000,000+

4) Homes.com

Homes.com is another search engine for houses or property listing platforms that can only be used by realtors from a seller’s perspective.

As a buyer, you can search and check a property’s features, type, location, and price.

Search results can also be displayed in a map view, and once you click to see the detailed information, you get further access to information such as:

  • The standard property description
  • Further details
  • A virtual tour (if available)
  • Information about the realtors in charge (listing agents)
  • A monthly payment calculator
  • Mortgage rates
  • The price history
  • Nearby schools
  • Home service providers
  • A tour schedule section
  • Similar homes in the neighborhood

Since the platform caters to realtors, it manages more than 650 MLS IDX listing feeds with over 4.3 million listings (source).

You can also purchase agent and broker websites from Homes.com with IDX and Virtual Office Website capabilities.

Additionally, the platform provides lead generation and management services.

Relevant Stats:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 10,690,000 (source)
  • Average Monthly Traffic Volume per Listing: 2
  • Costs for Sellers/Real Estate Pros: Seller pays a listing fee to respective agent in case of a sale, no public information available for homes.com advertising costs related to agents
  • Estimated number of leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rate: 0.075
  • Estimated Cost per Lead (assuming a 3% conversion rate): $0
  • Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sales conversion rate):$0
  • Selling Features Available to: Exclusively Realtors
  • Size of Inventory: 4,300,000

5) Foresalebyowner.com

This property listing platform or search engine for houses is particularly tailored to owners who prefer to sell their properties without an intermediary.

Foresalebyowner.com offers property advertising and information services, and it’s pricing is based on a monthly flat fee.

The amount of the fee depends proportionally on the length of the advertisement and the time length the respective seller wants it to appear on the website.

There is an additional fee if owners want to include their properties in the MLS with a real estate agent that is affiliated to foresalebyowner.com.

Once you click on one listing, the detailed property information looks similar to the other platforms.

You can read the detailed property description, get a map view, get an overview of the property features, see schools nearby, and can calculate the financing of the property.

Relevant Stats:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 805,360 (source)
  • Average Monthly Traffic Volume per Listing: 47
  • Costs for Sellers/Real Estate Pros: A flat one-time fee of between $0 and $399 for sellers
  • Estimated number of leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rate: 1.4
  • Estimated Cost per Lead (assuming a 3% conversion rate): $281.69
  • Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sales conversion rate):$2,816.85
  • Selling Features Available to: Direct sellers
  • Size of Inventory: 17,057

7) Roofstock

From a buyer’s perspective, Roofstock is another search engine for houses or property marketplace but with an emphasis on investment properties.

From a seller’s perspective, it’s an online brokerage website.

According to Roofstock’s website, its aim is to build the world’s leading real estate investment marketplace.

Their platform allows all kinds of investors to evaluate, purchase and own residential investment properties.

The company further states that since its launch, they have surpassed $2 billion in transactions.

If you want to sell there, they charge a 3% commission fee for each transaction.

Relevant Stats:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 308,490 (source)
  • Average Monthly Traffic Volume per Listing: 1079
  • Costs for Sellers/Real Estate Pros: No cost per lead pricing, for it’s an only brokerage with a 3% commission rate
  • Estimated number of leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rate: 32.4
  • Estimated Cost per Lead (assuming a 3% conversion rate): $0
  • Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sales conversion rate): $0
  • Selling Features Available to: Particularly direct sellers of residential investment properties
  • Size of Inventory: 286

8) Xome

The next property listing platform is Xome.

It operates nationwide and is based on auctions. The company’s offices are in Denver, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Chennai.

Xome enables sellers to publish their properties on the platform and put them up for auction.

Additionally, it provides sellers with marketing tools and the service of a commission-free Xome real estate agent (the commission pays the buyer).

On the other end, buyers can place bids on the properties they like.

Relevant Stats

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 1,940,000 (source)
  • Average Monthly Traffic Volume per Listing: 1
  • Costs for Sellers/Real Estate Pros: Free for sellers, but commission for buyers
  • Estimated number of leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rate: 0.03
  • Estimated Cost per Lead (assuming a 3% conversion rate): $0
  • Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sales conversion rate): $0
  • Selling Features Available to: Direct sellers, brokers, and realtors
  • Size of Inventory: 1,804,976

10) Redfin

Redfin is actually an online brokerage, but the platform also has the functionality of a search engine for houses.

If you are a direct home seller, Redfin can help you find the right agent registered with them that supports you in selling your property.

But it is also possible to sell independently without an agent going for the sale by owner route.

Allegedly, homes listed on Redfin sell for $2,800 more and are 6% more likely to close within 90 days.

You can also find a more in-depth analysis of this platform in this article, where I compare it with Zillow.

For realtors, Redfin can be used as a marketing tool to find home buyers. It offers several marketing methods to promote listed properties.

Additionally, they also offer 3D Walkthroughs for free and can do digital marketing for sellers on Facebook and Google.

As a realtor, you can become a partner or directly a Redfin real estate agent.

Relevant Stats

Monthly Traffic Volume: 74,180,000 (source)
Average Monthly Traffic Volume per Listing: 232
Costs for Sellers/Real Estate Pros: Total seller commission of 4%
Estimated number of leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rate: 6.97
Estimated Cost per Lead (assuming a 3% conversion rate): $0
Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sales conversion rate): $0
Selling Features Available to: Direct sellers, brokers, and realtors
Size of Inventory: 319,429

11) Homesnap

Homesnap is mainly tailored to iOS and Android users. With its real estate application, it can give you real-time MLS data with enhanced features for customers.

It’s also a typical two-sided platform for both buyers and realtors.

Similar to Zillow and/or Trulia, it can provide potential buyers with high-quality photographs, property history, property lines, and other features, such as school attendance zones.

Buyers can use the latter to look for available homes within a certain school district.

Additionally, they can refine their search by using filters, such as commute time, again school zones, but also open house listings.

Realtors can use a special version with enhanced features that enable them to observe and analyze what their clients are viewing and depending on that, they tailor their services to their needs and find an ideal home for them.

Homesnap can pull its data from hundreds of different local MLSes all over the United States.

One innovative feature is some special map layers that can display property boundaries, school zones, and satellite imagery.

Relevant Stats

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 4,340,000 (source)
  • Average Monthly Traffic Volume per Listing: 55
  • Costs for Sellers/Real Estate Pros: Annual Flat Fee of $299-$599 for Agents and/or PPC Campaigns with HomeSnap as Intermediary for $49-$499 per campaign
  • Estimated number of leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rate: 1.64
  • Estimated Cost per Lead (assuming a 3% conversion rate): $273.45
  • Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sales conversion rate): $2,734.45
  • Selling Features Available to: Realtors
  • Size of Inventory: 79,293
what is the best house search engine

What Are the Concluding Results

First, let’s have a look at the table below to get the whole picture.

I summarized all the above search engines for houses (property listing platforms) in this table.

House Search Engine/ Property Listing PlatformMonthly Traffic VolumeAVG. Monthly Traffic Volume per ListingCosts for Sellers/Real Estate ProsEstimated number of leads per listing per month based on assumed 3% conversion rateEstimated Cost per Lead (assuming a 3% conversion rate)Estimated Cost per Sale (assuming a 10% lead to sales conversion rate)
Roofstock3084901,079No cost per lead pricing, since it's an only brokerage with a 3% commission rate32.4$0$0
Redfin74,180,000232Total seller commission of 4%6.97$0$0
Realtor.com144,980,000159Monthly flat fee between $200-$1,000 (price depends on zip code you buy), leads are not always exclusive4.8$125.39$1,253.94
HomeSnap4,340,00055Annual Flat Fee of $299-$599 for Agents and/or PPC Campaigns with HomeSnap as Intermediary for $49-$499 per campaign1.64$273.45$2,734.45
Trulia54,440,00054$20-60 per lead (Zillow Premier Agent Feature)1.6-$400
ForSaleByOwner.com805,36047A flat one-time fee of between $0 and $399 for sellers1.4$281.69$2,816.85
Zillow297,150,0003$20-60 per lead0.081-$400
Homes.com10,690,0002"Seller pays a listing fee to respective agent in case of a sale, no public information available for homes.com advertising costs related to agents
"
0.075$0$0
Homefinder.com1,530,0002Flat fee of $39 per property listing0.054$726.40$7,264
Xome1,940,0001Free for sellers, but commission for buyers0.03$0$0

What is the Best House Search Engine for Buyers?

As already mentioned, initially, all the analyzed search engines for buyers can be used free of charge.

They basically provide the same quality of market data and overall user-friendliness.

The difference lies in inventory sizes, which is especially important for buyers who usually prefer the widest possible selection of properties.

With an inventory size of 110,000,000, the clear winner here is Zillow.

In my opinion, if you combine Zillow with NeighborhoodScout (mentioned in the bonus section below) and research the ideal neighborhood as a buyer first and then go on the property hunt with Zillow, the search could get even more efficient.

By the way, if you are an investor and spend hours on end searching and analyzing deals on platforms such as Zillow, you might be interested in the software mentioned below that searches, finds, and analyzes deals according to your profit criteria on autopilot.

Results are sent to your email inbox on a daily basis, so you can better focus on the negotiating part of your active real estate investing business.

You can check it out here.

What is the Best House Search Engine for Sellers?

Taking a second look at the above table from a seller’s perspective, finding the best house search engine or property listing platform is not as easy and straightforward as for buyers because you have to look at it from a marketing perspective, and thus take its potential efficiency in this regard into consideration.

Why is the estimated monthly traffic per individual property listing so important in this regard?

If you receive a low amount of traffic, the odds are that you won’t generate many buyer leads.

It also implies that the platform’s inventory size is higher, and thus, you will have to share the platform’s monthly traffic with more competing offers.

On the other hand, if you get a fairly high amount of monthly traffic per individual property listing, you will generate more buyer leads.

The key is to find a platform with not too large of an inventory size and a good amount of monthly traffic at the same time.

So, back to the results.

If you are a real estate professional, preferring to pay a monthly fee, then Realtor.com is the best option.

Why?

Because on realtor.com, most beneficial factors come together.

According to my calculations, you get the most estimated monthly visitors per listing, and due to that, the estimated cost per lead is the lowest at $125.39.

If you are an individual seller and don’t mind paying a commission, then RedFin would be the best candidate because, according to my estimation, you get the second-largest amount of traffic per property listing.

Should you be an individual seller and again don’t mind paying a commission and specialize in residential investment properties, then Roofstock is another winner with the highest overall traffic amount per individual listing.

And finally, if you prefer a pricing model based on a per lead basis, no matter if you are a real estate professional or a direct seller, then Trulia would be the best option.

You can use the Zillow Premier Agent feature (remember Zillow purchased Trulia), get charged on a per lead basis, and, at the same time, get the highest monthly traffic per property listing.

Bonus Search Engine Outside the Above Categories – NeighborhoodScout

NeighborhoodScout is not a search engine for houses per se.

That’s why I didn’t include it in my overall analysis.

It’s rather an analysis tool for neighborhoods across the United States.

It was created by the geographer and demographics specialist Andrew Schiller, Ph.D. of Location Inc.

With the help of the website features, you can pull different neighborhood reports and also use the search function with different filters to find the best neighborhood matches according to their pre-defined requirements and characteristics.

According to the NeighborhoodScout’s website, you can use over 600 characteristics to create a neighborhood profile of each neighborhood and address in America (United States).

The following characteristics are available, amongst many more:

  • housing costs
  • school quality
  • crime rates
  • the age, size, and style of homes
  • income levels
  • density of buildings
  • rental areas versus owner occupied
  • educational attainment
  • languages spoken
  • the proportion of families with children
  • demographic trends and forecasts
  • home price appreciation
  • crime risks by crime type
  • unemployment trends

NeighborhoodScout pulls its data from several leading government sources, such as the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Geological Service.

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