Zillow vs. Redfin: Which Is Better for Homebuyers?

Cape Cod Style in Waukegan, Illinois
©Redfin

It’s becoming more and more common for aspiring homeowners to flock to real estate listing sites, like Zillow and Redfin, to place offers — or at least satiate their curiosity on the current market before investing. What makes these platforms convenient is that they allow people to explore their options without even leaving the couch.

Using Zillow or Redfin can be a comfortable solution when it comes to planning your homebuying transaction and comparing costs. Before you randomly choose one of these two platforms, you should study them both so that you can make a more educated choice when figuring out which one’s best for you.

Zillow vs. Redfin: What Makes Them So Different

Zillow and Redfin are two of the most renowned real estate listing platforms available today. They’ll most likely top your Google search for these types of websites. These handy real estate tools have unique perks and downsides, though. While they operate somewhat similarly, one of their main differences is the proprietary technology they each use. That’s why you might find estimates vary substantially from one of these sites to the other.

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What Is Redfin?

Redfin is a brokerage platform that only operates in some cities across the United States. This site has agents that work on lower commission rates than average realtors. That’s why, if you’re selling property, a site like Redfin might benefit you by saving you thousands in real estate commissions. When buying a home through this site, you might get a buyer’s rebate when closing your transaction.

Redfin also has an iBuying service called “Redfin Now.” This tool allows buyers to make a cash offer and close on the deal they’re interested in faster than when using the services of a traditional realtor.

Additionally, this platform offers a “Redfin Refund” when connecting buyers with Redfin realtors who offer cashback offers when closing on a deal based on the actual cost of the property and other market conditions when applicable.

Where Does Redfin Find Listings?

Redfin pulls its listings from Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, databases, which are cooperatively updated by real estate agents regularly — at least every five minutes — for maximum accuracy. This information is also used to compare listings in your preferred area and find the most accurate pricing estimates. When looking for their dream home on Redfin, buyers can use filters like:

  • Zip code
  • Square footage
  • Price

Once you find a home you’d like more information on, you can tour it from the listing or set up a one-on-one video tour with an agent. A Redfin Estimate is considered one of the most accurate available to date. On its website, Redfin claims that out of 5,000 homes, 64% have sold within 3% of the estimated worth, which exceeds Zillow’s 29% accuracy.

What Is Zillow?

Zillow is an online, real estate marketplace and one of the most visited sites when it comes to finding house listings and comparing housing values in the United States. In the last quarter of 2020, this platform received more than 2.2 billion visitors.

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Unlike Redfin, Zillow allows For Sale By Owner, or FSBO, listings, which gives sellers a chance to save on agent fees. FSBO listings also mean that you can find unique listings on Zillow that aren’t available on other popular sites.

When it comes to iBuying, Zillow has an option called Zillow Offers. It allows you to make cash offers to sellers to expedite your closing date. This alternative operates in over 25 markets, and to take advantage of it, sellers need to submit an eligibility form.

Where Does Zillow Find Listings?

It’s important to note that Zillow is not a brokerage. Because of this, it has no granted access to MLS databases. Instead, Zillow has agreements with real estate companies that provide it with listing information, which is why it can take up to a week for new listings to show up on Zillow.

One of the most relevant features of the platform is its Zestimate tool. For accuracy, this resource uses a proprietary formula and measures the value of a property based on private and public data.

Which Is Better?

Both Zillow and Redfin are trustworthy companies that provide excellent solutions to buyers and sellers alike. As for the best choice, it all depends on your particular needs.

Keep in mind that Redfin might be able to offer more accuracy when it comes to their estimates based on the tools they use to gather pricing information. They can also get you lower prices since they’re a discount brokerage with experience negotiating rebates and lower commissions.

However, if you want to find unique listings and are willing to deal with the seller directly rather than an agent, Zillow might be the way to go.

Real Estate Listing Sites vs. Traditional Realtors

Using an online service might be more comfortable for you than going to a traditional realtor. But realtors can give you a more personalized treatment and offer you insider tips. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference when you’re evaluating these options. Here are some of the main differences between online real estate sites and traditional realtors.

Realtor Online Real Estate
Assistance Full service Full service
Costs Between 2.5% and 3 % commission Up to 6% commission on the final home sale
Buyer Rebates Up to $1,500 n/a
Payments Salary Commissions

Find the Best Real Estate Option for You

Online real estate platforms like Zillow and Redfin are a growing trend. These companies keep on improving their technology so that you can find what you’re looking for more efficiently.

Good To Know

Using a real estate listing website can save you a pretty penny if you play your cards right. Make sure to negotiate and ask if buyer rebates are available for the property you’re interested in.

There’s no undisputed champion in this competition. Both Redfin and Zillow have unique features that can help with your home-buying endeavors. Make sure to visit both sites and explore the options they offer before you commit to a final decision.

Zillow vs. Redfine FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Zillow and how it differs from Redfin.
  • Is Redfin better than Zillow?
    • It all depends on what you need. Redfin offers more accuracy when it comes to estimates, while Zillow offers more flexibility when choosing agents.
  • What is the main difference between Redfin and Zillow?
    • Redfin is a discount brokerage, while Zillow is a marketplace. The latter also allows sellers to make offers directly rather than working with an agent.
  • How reliable is a real estate website estimate?
    • Redfin's Estimate has a reputation of being one of the most accurate in the online market. It uses information from MLS databases to get as close to the real value of the property as possible. Zillow has a lower accuracy rate due to the nature of the site.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Daniela Rivera is a bilingual freelance content creator with an advertising and media background. She has a Communication Science degree and 10+ years of work experience as a copywriter. She specializes in generating engaging and creative concepts and texts for advertising, e-commerce, blogs, podcasts, and social media.

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