The Best Real Estate Websites of 2022

Buying, selling, renting, or investing in real estate isn’t as complicated as it used to be. The best real estate websites match people to properties quickly and easily.

By Mel Childs | Published Mar 31, 2022 11:16 AM

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The Best Real Estate Websites Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

There was once a time when looking for a home involved driving through countless neighborhoods looking for “For Sale” signs or finding out about properties through the classified ads. While these methods helped match buyers, sellers, and renters to properties, they weren’t nearly as efficient as today’s online tools.The best real estate websites are helping people, whether they’re buying, selling, or renting, find what they want and need easily instead of wasting time looking at potential properties that aren’t a good match.

Gone are the days of finding a property and preparing to see it, only to find out that it is already sold or rented upon arrival. These websites update listings frequently, minimizing the frustration of finding the right home. In addition, the tools on these websites equip consumers with much more knowledge to avoid sketchy situations and get the best deal. Likewise, the best realtors, real estate agents and property management companies can avoid wasting time with prospects who aren’t serious about acquiring real estate. This guide has all the information you’ll need about the best sites for real estate.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Zillow
  2. BEST FOR BUYING: Redfin
  3. BEST FOR RENTING: Apartments.com
  4. BEST MOBILE APP: Trulia
  5. BEST FOR FORECLOSURES: Auction.com
The Best Real Estate Websites Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Real Estate Websites

Choosing one of the best real estate websites is beneficial for many reasons. For one, there are millions of listings on these sites, meaning the potential to land the perfect property is better than ever. There’s also a spectacular marketplace for bringing buyers, sellers, renters, property managers, and agents together to do business much more efficiently than in the past. Here are some factors to consider when using these sites.

Site Type

Although most of the best real estate websites have similar tools and platforms, not all have the same offerings for users. Some sites offer buying, selling, and renting options. Others only offer selling options, particularly for those interested in a specific property type, such as investment properties. In addition to providing real estate listings, some of these sites offer various tools that can help users, such as valuation tools, mortgage estimators, and more. Users can search for or list properties using their computers or the best home buying app. Many of these sites allow people to perform tasks independently that they once had to rely on agents for. Users can now publish a rental listing or list a property on their own. These functions are great for those who are savvy with real estate. However, hiring a real estate agent may be a better option for those who aren’t sure how to execute these tasks from beginning to end successfully.

Search Parameters

The best real estate websites offer a multitude of search parameters to narrow down a home search. Basic search parameters include location, price, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. More advanced parameters include amenities, school districts, square footage, and crime data. With these search parameters, users can go from general to specific with just a few clicks. Some sites also let users exclude properties by specific parameters as well. They can exclude for-sale-by-owner listings or any homes with basements, just to name a few examples.

Site Tools

Another great aspect of the best sites for home buying or selling is that they offer tools to help customers through the purchase process, including mortgage preapprovals and affordability calculators. Tools like home value estimators are especially beneficial for the selling side. A home value estimator can give homeowners an idea of how much their house is worth before they even meet with a real estate agent. Other useful site tools include property management and tenant screening tools for landlords. Renters can also use some of the best apartment website tools to figure out how much rent they can afford, find an ideal place to live, and pay application fees.

Finding an Agent

Before buying or selling, some customers may already have a real estate agent they want to work with. But many might not have that personal connection, which can make them feel like they’re behind a step in the process. Luckily, the best real estate websites let potential buyers or sellers connect with the perfect real estate agents. Users can find an agent familiar with the area who is well-versed in comparable properties. This takes the legwork out of reaching out to family and friends for recommendations and personally vetting each agent over the phone.

Ease of Use

Using a clunky and counterintuitive website is anything but pleasant. And when many buyers or renters are checking real estate websites daily to see the latest listings, it’s essential to have a real estate website that’s seamless and user-friendly. The best websites in this category will have a clear layout and navigable design. Most sites incorporate maps with the listings so users can quickly identify where a property is located. The listings will also be easy to read with clear photos and all pertinent information listed.

Our Top Picks

For those who are looking to buy, sell, or rent real estate, the following picks will yield high-quality results and useful tools.

Best Overall

Photo: zillow.com

Why It Made the Cut: Zillow is committed to improving the user experience through cutting-edge technology and valuable tools that help buyers, sellers, and renters.

After a frustrating real estate experience, former Microsoft executive Rich Barton and several colleagues formed Zillow in 2006. Barton believed that adding technology to the real estate process would revolutionize it—and his hunch was correct. Since then, Zillow has become one of the best in the online real estate marketplace, and it boasts high site traffic and the largest online database with millions of sales and rental listings. The site has a comprehensive collection of calculators, advertising, and Zestimate tools. Since Zillow’s inception, Zestimate has been a way for users to understand how much a property is worth without soliciting appraisers or agents. Zestimate has a relatively low median error rate of 1.9 percent for on-market homes, meaning that users are more likely to get an accurate valuation. Users can also access Zillow’s home value comparison tool to select two or three specific listings and directly compare features and home values. The platform lets users search not only for real estate agents but also for inspectors and builders, and Zillow serves as a real one-stop shop for all things real estate. Zillow’s listings may not update as regularly as other sites, but with all of the listings and traffic, buyers, sellers, and renters can’t pass up Zillow as a leader in online real estate.

Specs

  • Site type: Real estate listings website
  • Buying, renting, or selling: Buying, selling, renting
  • Search parameters: Price, beds, baths, square footage, home type, amenities, view
  • Site tools: Calculators, Zestimate, property management, advertising

Pros

  • Relatively high site traffic and number of property listings
  • Users can search for and post both sales and rental listings
  • Home value comparison tool
  • Customers can search for agents, inspectors, and builders
  • Relatively low home valuation median error rate of 1.9 percent for on-market homes

Cons

  • Widely variable completion times for new listings and updates

Best for Buying

The Best Real Estate Websites Option: Redfin
Photo: redfin.com

Why It Made the Cut: Redfin is not only an online real estate marketplace but an extension of brokerage services, allowing potential buyers and sellers to have direct access to professional real estate agents.

Founded in 2004, this Seattle-based brokerage has skyrocketed in the online real estate marketplace. While Redfin prides itself on its technology, much of its strength lies in connecting qualified, vetted agents to buyers. Redfin employs its agents, who earn salaries as opposed to relying on commissions. Redfin agents might have more clients than independent agents, so they may not be able to provide as much focused attention. But this approach may benefit buyers who prefer a slightly more hands-off process. Buyers and sellers who use a Redfin agent also can earn back part of the agent’s commission fees through the Redfin Refund program. Redfin understands that when dealing with a purchase as big as a new home, saving every bit of money counts.

One of Redfin’s other significant advantages is updating its listings every 5 minutes, providing users with the most timely information. Redfin has a comprehensive selection of search filters to make finding the right property easy. It also features site tools like an agent finder, mortgage preapproval, and home value estimator.

Specs

  • Site type: Discount brokerage
  • Buying, renting, or selling: Buying, selling
  • Search parameters: Price, beds, baths, square footage, home type, status, stories, home features, listing type, schools
  • Site tools: Affordability calculator, home value estimator, mortgage preapproval, agent finder

Pros

  • Buyers can connect to vetted, qualified agents
  • Buyers and sellers can earn back money with Redfin Refund
  • Comprehensive selection of search filters
  • Listings are updated every 5 minutes

Cons

  • Agents may not be able to provide as much personalized support

Best for Renting

The Best Real Estate Websites Option: Apartments com
Photo: apartments.com

Why It Made the Cut: Apartments.com is supported by a robust research team and uses innovative tools to make finding the perfect apartment easy.

Founded in 1992 and purchased by CoStar Group, Inc. in 2014, Apartments.com offers renters access to an online database of over 1 million properties for rent, including apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes. Local area guides provide in-depth information about a town or neighborhood, which is a great feature for users moving to a totally new place. Users can sift through listings with ease thanks to the wide variety of filters and amenities tags, so there’s no need for renters to waste time looking at properties that don’t have what they need. Apartments.com also has a helpful affordability calculator to help renters figure out how much they can afford to spend on rent per month. The app isn’t the most user-friendly, but luckily Apartments.com’s website is smooth and streamlined, so users should have no problem finding the perfect rental.

Specs

  • Site type: Apartment listing site
  • Buying, renting, or selling: Renting
  • Search parameters: Price, beds, type, move-in date, lifestyle, amenities, affordability
  • Site tools: Rental calculator, rental management tools

Pros

  • Rental-focused site
  • Area Guides provide information about listing location
  • Robust selection of search filters and amenities tags
  • Easy-to-use rental calculator tool

Cons

  • App is not as user-friendly as website

Best Mobile App

The Best Real Estate Websites Option: Trulia
Photo: trulia.com

Why It Made the Cut: Trulia provides users with a streamlined mobile experience. And backed by its parent company, Zillow, it offers users access to plenty of up-to-date real estate listings.

Established in 2005, Trulia has become a strong contender in the online real estate marketplace. In 2015, it became a subsidiary of Zillow, giving the platform an added boost. While there’s no option to list directly on Trulia, this app caters to renters and buyers with its plethora of purchase and rental listings sourced from Zillow. Trulia offers one standout feature: Users can search listings by keyword, meaning that if there’s a particular feature they want in a new home, they can enter that criteria to prevent sifting through search filters to find the perfect home. Trulia also highlights properties based on real estate markets or popular searches. There’s no better option than Trulia for users who want to tackle the home search from the palm of their hands.

Specs

  • Site type: Real estate listings website
  • Buying, renting, or selling: Buying, renting
  • Search parameters: Price, beds, baths, home type, listing type, square footage, keywords
  • Site tools: Calculators, mortgage prequalification

Pros

  • User-friendly mobile app
  • Syndicated listings with Zillow
  • Users can search listings by keyword

Cons

  • No option to list directly on Trulia

Best for Foreclosures

The Best Real Estate Websites Option: Auction com
Photo: auction.com

Why It Made the Cut: Auction.com has created an online marketplace to access foreclosure properties more efficiently.

Since 2007, Auction.com has compiled an enormous amount of data in its online database about distressed properties that appeal to real estate investors. Buyers have access to over 30,000 foreclosure and bank-owned properties. Once a potential investor or buyer creates a profile, they can start saving properties, learning more about them through the various site tools, and even obtaining relevant recommendations for other properties that may interest them. Users can bid for properties online, or they can opt to attend an in-person auction. Auction.com’s team helps auction winners close the deal between the bidder and the seller in a seamless way. Although finding and purchasing properties on this site is relatively easy, most properties will need to be purchased up front with cash. As long as buyers are prepared for the out-of-pocket costs, Auction.com is an excellent place for users to find and flip that hidden gem.

Specs

  • Site type: Real estate listings website
  • Buying, renting, or selling: Buying
  • Search parameters: Asset type, buying type, condition
  • Site tools: N/A

Pros

  • Comprehensive listings of local foreclosures and vacant properties
  • Choice of online and in-person auctions

Cons

  • Most properties need to be purchased up front with cash

Our Verdict

After researching a multitude of real estate websites, we determined that our top choice is Zillow because it is a one-stop-shop for buyers, sellers, and renters with a wide array of useful tools for all parties. Another one of our top picks is Redfin for its ability to connect clients to agents and its database that updates listing info every 5 minutes.

How We Chose the Best Real Estate Websites

Choosing the best real estate website was not easy because many options are available. The ones we chose provide consumers with many property listings, but they also offer plenty of valuable tools, making property search and marketing convenient for users and providers. Another reason we chose this mix of websites is that they have something useful for all types of property seekers, from renters to home buyers to those looking for an investment property. Additionally, we like the search parameters and filters these sites provide to make the user experience as accessible as possible.

Before You Use One of the Best Real Estate Websites

Although anyone can use one of the best real estate websites, there are a few things to consider to make the experience worthwhile and productive. Users should be clear on whether they’re looking to rent, buy, sell, or invest. Another consideration, especially when buying or looking for an investment property, is whether someone has enough money to make a significant purchase. Luckily, many of these sites have affordability tools built in, giving users an idea of what kind of payments they’ll need to make to purchase a property.

Shoppers should also identify the pros and cons of using a real estate agent. Real estate agents are educated by some of the the best real estate schools, and can smooth out the buying and selling process; but some shoppers may prefer to go down the for-sale-by-owner route. Many of these sites allow users to filter agent listing and for-sale-by-owner listings so shoppers can find just what they’re looking for.

Cost of Using One of the Best Real Estate Websites

One of the great factors about most of the best real estate websites is that they are free to use. Most users can accomplish much by using the free services to find the ideal rental property or buy a home. However, some sites charge fees, depending on how a person uses the site. For instance, customers who plan to list on Zillow can expect to pay a fee for listing on the site. If customers use Redfin’s agents, their agents will earn a commission upon completing the transaction.

The Advantages of Using One of the Best Real Estate Websites

Using real estate websites is a great way to learn about the state of the market. It allows buyers more independence than relying solely on agents to find potential properties. And because many of these sites offer additional tools to sellers and landlords, it is also a one-stop shop for marketing properties and receiving payments. These sites are also advantageous for real estate investors because they collate many properties into one location, so investors don’t have to search through the classified ads. For real estate agents, these sites can put them in contact with a wide range of customers who they wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. Ultimately, the best real estate site is beneficial for users on all sides of real estate.
Searching the sites is free.

  • Users have access to a large number of property listings.
  • Potential buyers or renters can browse many properties without involving real estate agents right away.
  • Built-in tools streamline the buying and selling process.

FAQs

The best real estate websites make it easier for buyers, renters, and investors to explore and access plenty of properties that would otherwise not be available to the public. They also are an exchange for real estate agents and sellers to make the public aware of properties for sale or rent. However, you may have more questions about these sites. Here are answers to frequently asked questions.

Q. How do real estate websites get data?

Real estate websites get most of their information from a multiple listing service (MLS), which is data typically owned and controlled by real estate agents. The MLS gives permission to these sites, which in turn provides them with greater reach and more opportunity to complete real estate transactions.

Q. Are real estate websites accurate?

It depends on what information or tool you are using. In terms of real estate listings themselves, most of these sites aim to keep updated information on the site. In terms of valuation estimators, these aren’t necessarily accurate but do provide a starting point for most home sellers.

Q. Are there fees to use real estate websites?

Using the sites to search through properties typically is free of charge. However, some of these sites offer additional services, such as rental listing services, that come with a fee.

Q. Do real estate websites charge a fee for a successful purchase of a property?

The real estate website itself does not charge a fee for a property purchase. Real estate agents gain a commission off of home sales, so they will earn a percentage of the purchase price if you found your agent on one of these sites.

Q. Can I find a real estate agent through real estate websites?

Yes, most sites will have a feature that allows users to connect to agents.

Q. Is it safe to buy real estate through a real estate website?

Most of these sites contain legitimate listings, and you can safely purchase, rent, or invest in these properties. However, some sketchy listings may exist on these sites. A user should use their best judgment to avoid unscrupulous activity and never enter into a deal without thoroughly vetting a property or the agents.