Zillow... Trulia These sites are probably here to stay. And I suppose they serve some sort of purpose. (Yup... they generate a LOT of money... for Zillow and Trulia by professing to offer information and advice).
These sites also spend a lot of money so that if you "Google" "I want to buy a house in Albany NY"... their sites appear at the top of the list. I'm pretty certain that if you "Google" I want to buy a house in Albany NY my name won't be at the top of the list... even though I've been a real estate professional a lot longer than any of those sites were even being thought of! I COULD pay the search engines money to insure that my name shows up in the top portion of the lists, but I don't.
Why? Because I am certain that real estate IS local. The people you need to get in touch with are the people that are in THOSE trenches. Day in and day out. They know how much houses go for. They know which ones are currently on the market... and having sold three months ago! And now, nearly everyone uses a buyer's agent in this quest. As an example, my sister in law and her husband were thinking about selling their house in the Binghamton NY area, and they called me for some advice. My most prominate suggestion was to speak to a local agent. I told them I had no real feel for that market and I would be doing them a dis-service by giving them that kind of advice. So, I did some research for them and came up with a couple of names. they had heard of one of them and they decided to contact her and proceed. with a LOCAL professional.
So, when we have a potential seller tell us they checked their house out on Zillow... "... and it says my house is worth....", we know that we can "hear" them, but we will check it out and come up with what is probably a more accurate analysis.
When a buyer calls us and says, "Hey I saw this home on Zillow..." We know that there is a strong possibility that it's either not on the market at all, or the information is erroneous.
Simple solution here folks... Get in touch with someone directly involved in the market. And not necessarily someone whose picture and contact information show up when you're on that site doing a search... those people PAY for that to happen. Doesn't mean they are all that familiar or all that good... they PAY for that.
Talk to someone in your area. Ask them who they have used or know of. then take it from there.
Real estate is local.