Your name: Anita S. Crum

 

Name of product: RealtyTrac.com 7-day free trial

1. Ease. Is it easy to use for real estate professionals? For real estate consumers? How steep is the learning curve?

Your name: Anita S. Crum

Name of product: RealtyTrac.com 7-day free trial

1. Ease. Is it easy to use for real estate professionals? For real estate consumers? How steep is the learning curve?

Overall this product is relatively easy to use. When you first land on the page, it is a little overwhelming because it appears to have so much information. But after you navigate around the page a few times, you can see that the information is grouped together in easily identifiable and useable sections. The average user should develop a comfort level within 30 minutes, a more proficient user within 10-15 minutes.

–Strengths (250 words or less):

The overall layout and presentation is good and easy to follow. Having the search section prominently featured on the main page is very nice. Having your personal search results available on the main page is even nicer. The capability to save notes on properties you are interested is a definite plus.

–Weaknesses (250 words or less):

Many of the links opening up as pop-up windows were a little annoying. It was too reminiscent of advertising pop-ups, which in a way, many of these were. In fact, most of the items under the Tools & Services section of the left menu bar were either links to third-party vendors or to other data and services provided by RealtyTrac at an additional cost. And once you initiate the search feature, the entire left side of the page is mostly advertising banners. It’s a little aggravating when you are paying for a service to constantly have other advertisements flashing at the periphery. And since the bottom third of the page appears to be just Sponsored Links, I stopped bothering to page down all the way after the first few times of seeing it.

–Numeric rating, from zero to 100 (zero is the worst and 100 is the best):

90

–Explanation for rating (250 words or less):

The site is fairly user-friendly and easy to navigate. The search features are pretty simple but can be expanded on and are rather intuitive. A few minutes of trial and error will soon get you going without any need for tutorials or help menus.

2. Value. Is it helpful and useful for real estate professionals? For their clients/customers/consumers? Cost vs. benefits: Is it worth the cost?

This site could be helpful to an agent who does moderate to regular amounts of business with clients interested in purchasing distressed properties.

–Strengths (250 words or less):

This site provides a lot of information on properties in various stages of foreclosure. The information on preforeclosures could especially be useful for investors who are interested in purchasing homes prior to their going on the market and made available to the general public.

The Trends Center does provide some interesting data, charts and graphs.

–Weaknesses (250 words or less):

As with other foreclosure information sites, this site also suffers from a degree of inaccuracy in data. Not all the properties I reviewed were current on status; however, the percentage of inaccuracies noted were less than those of other sites I have used in the past. However, this is based on a rather small sample size.

The data available for each property was rather limited in scope. As for data on foreclosures, many of the properties in the foreclosure status section were either listed with an agent or outdated information (this data confirmed by checking addresses in MLS).

–Numeric rating, from zero to 100 (zero is the worst and 100 is the best):

85

–Explanation for rating (250 words or less):

For the price, this is a fairly good product. However, the lack of completely up-to-date information does detract from its value. Also, the detailed information provided on the properties is rather limited. Someone interested in an REO or short-sale property may have better luck just checking the MLS system for distressed properties.

3. Power. Would real estate professionals and consumers be likely to use this often? Can it replace existing tools/methods? How much information and how many features does it put at the user’s fingertips? Does it have the power to change the industry? Can real estate professionals and consumers use this on the go? Is it innovative and cutting-edge? Is it scalable (can be used by individuals and entire offices/companies)? Does it have advanced features for tech-savvy users? Does it integrate with other products?

In my opinion, the power of this tool lays in the consumers’ perception of its value. As an industry professional with access to other methods of obtaining information, I find this product to have limited reliability. It does provide a good general overview and some helpful tools but not anything I couldn’t produce through other means. The advantages are in having some of the work already done for me.

–Strengths (250 words or less):

The general foreclosure information section is very helpful with good overview of the foreclosure process and explanations of different types of distressed-property sales (i.e. auctions, short sales and REOs). It even offers information on foreclosure laws by state, albeit a rather limited amount of content is available for each state.

The information on the buying process does lean a little towards using the RealtyTrac Web site but does provide good overall guidelines and does advise using an agent if one is not familiar with the process (and of course points the viewer to the RealtyTrac-affiliated agents).

Posting a home for sale is a fairly simple process with an easy-to-fill-out form with drop-down options. There are even helpful hints if you are feeling literarily challenged in coming up with catchy headline phrases.

The Home Value Analysis Feature was a nice surprise. The median home value it gave was only 4.3 percent lower than the recent local MLS reports.

The Renter Alerts section claims to track your property for 12 months and will alert you if your landlord goes into foreclosure (all for a small introductory fee, of course). Although I did not sign up for this feature, I could see where this could be a benefit if you are concerned that your landlord may be taking the rent money but failing to pay the mortgage. It would help to avoid that unpleasant notice that you’re being evicted through no fault of yours.

–Weaknesses (250 words or less):

The "foreclosure prevention" section was a little disappointing. The "get help now" section led to a form to request information from an unidentified third-party source. As for the "find an agent" section, instead of providing a list of agents in a particular city/state, it once again is an online form requesting information, which hopefully will get a qualified agent to contact you.

The "contact owner" button, which is available on pre-foreclosure properties did not seem to work for me. Every time I clicked on it the system would lock me out. Looking through the FAQ gave me the response that my security settings were set too high. Modifying them didn’t correct the problem.

On the REO properties, the contact agent feature does not actually connect you to the listing agent but rather sends you to that form that allows the system to capture your information to pass on to one of their affiliated agents.

–Numeric rating, from zero to 100 (zero is the worst and 100 is the best):

80

–Explanation for rating (250 words or less):

Overall a good standalone product providing general overview of distressed properties. I think its strengths lay in part on the amount of good information available in general as well as having the search capabilities.

It’s a good general Web site uncluttered by too many bells and whistles. Sometimes too much technology can get in the way of content and this site does deliver good content. As for on the go, I tried accessing this site with my Blackberry with limited success. The site loaded just fine, but you can only see so much on a Blackberry screen. However, the e-mail alerts were a nice touch.

I don’t foresee this product replacing anything currently used by the industry unless it can ensure more accurate data. It is a good research tool for checking trends in a particular area and for doing preliminary research of properties.

***

What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor.

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Refer, reward, repeat. Share a 90-day free trial and get $$$.Refer & Earn×