Whenever searching for real estate online, there's a good chance you've come across Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow.
Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow are the 3 Largest National Real Estate Portals
What those 3 sites have in common is they are in most of the major real estate markets across the United States. We in the industry like to refer to them as "portals". They aggregate listings that are syndicated from all kinds of sources. I'll be honest, I have my profile on all 3 and use all 3 when searching for real estate outside of Hawaii. They are a decent "starting point". Of the 3, I'd have to admit I'm most loyal to Realtor.com as it was founded by Realtors and has been recognized as the official site of the National Association of Realtors.
Unfortunately all 3 sites have the same business model - to Sell Advertising. They can be a decent place for those getting started in their search. However, knowing what I know as a professional, here are 3 Important Reasons Not to Search on Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow when looking for Hawaii Real Estate:
1. Advertising. As I mentioned, all 3 sites are based on advertising - primarily to Realtors. They use our info. and then sell it back to us to put our face and contact info. on there. They also sell ads to all sorts of other businesses that have nothing to do with looking for a home - supermarkets, moving companies, insurance companies, software companies and more! It clutters the space and impedes on the consumers ability to find what they are looking for - real estate.
2. No Differentiation or Filter for Leasehold Properties. If you search on a local real estate website (such as this one), there's a good chance you'll be able to tell the difference between Fee Simple and Leasehold properties. The national portals above have no differentiation between the two. You'll see leasehold properties intermingled with fee simple ones and often times, they are the ones that look "too good to be true." On those sites, the consumer can't filter the leasehold ones out or even be able to tell the difference.
3. No Way to Check Status of a Listing. On the national portals, listings show up online until they either sell, expire or are withdrawn. Some of them still show properties after they sell! When using a local site (like this one), you have a good chance to see whether a property is available or under contract/in escrow under the "Status" field. It is there you can see whether a property says Active or Active Continue to Show, which are the terms our local MLS uses.
These are just some of the many reasons to use a local real estate website when searching for property in Hawaii. Even more important, Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow do not live on Oahu nor sell real estate here. I on the other hand DO!