You Found the Right Place -- Trulia Alerts You at the Right Time
What if the object of your affection suddenly became available? And what if it were swept away by another suitor before you even learned that news? It would be a tragedy, right?
If that object is a home, there's a way to position yourself as a well-mannered stalker ready to pounce as soon as that coveted place, or any house in your favorite neighborhood, comes on the market.
The Web site Trulia.com allows you to set a "Trulia Alert" for any address in its national database, even if it is not listed for sale, and to receive an e-mail if that house goes on the market or if nearby properties are listed for sale or sold.
Trulia is one of the brash upstarts in the online real estate world. The site launched in September 2005 and added Washington area properties in July. Last month, it was the 32nd-most-visited among 2,640 real estate sites, according to Hitwise.com, which compiles usage statistics.
The alert feature was added to the site a bit more than a month ago, and it just might be the site's most interesting and useful feature. But there's nothing on the site that shows you where to find this feature or how to use it.
All you have to do is enter the address in the main "Find Homes For Sale" box , even if it is not for sale. You won't necessarily get a lot of information. When I tried it for my own address, all I found was a basic Google map and some incomplete and out-of-date tax-assessment information. But now that I've set an alert, I'll be able to keep tabs on the neighborhood, at least if listing brokers feed their information to Trulia.
The alerts would be useful if I did have a home for sale. It's good to know quickly that someone a few blocks away just listed a similar house for $10,000 less than your asking price; that's going to affect how many buyers look at yours. It's a real estate agent's job to pass that information to you promptly, of course, but it doesn't hurt to set up an alert as a backup. And anyone trying a for-sale-by-owner can certainly use the automated help.
If you're shopping for a home, you definitely want to keep tabs on new listings and sales. You have more bargaining ammunition once a similar home comes on the market, especially if it's listed at a lower price than the home you had been considering.
The entry for my house on rival Zillow.com was more robust than Trulia's entry, even before I updated the Zillow information myself. Trulia does not invite homeowners to update their home's information, as Zillow does, but there is a "Report Listing Error" button.
Most similar real estate sites make a living by capturing your contact information and re-selling it as a sales "lead" to real estate brokerages. Such sites tease you with a bit of information and then require you to supply your name, phone number and e-mail address to learn more.
Trulia does not force you to jump through such hoops. It doesn't sell your contact information to anyone but instead earns revenue from advertisements and "featured listings," which receive more prominent display than the regular, free listings.
Listings appear on Trulia only if the listing broker chooses to put them there.