Today I am going to take a look at trulia. I am going to point out some strengths and some weaknesses, and then I will give you my take.
1. Although trulia is considered “web 2.0,” they have done an almost flawless job with their web 1.0 SEO efforts (with the exception of adhering to w3c standards – their San Diego listings page shows 182 errors). The site’s architecture is set up exactly the way it should be…unfortunately, their programmers wrote some ugly code. It’s nice to see a 2.0 company that still worries about search engines, even if their programming team is what I would consider second rate.
2. Trulia does a great job at implementing RSS feeds. Although RSS is still very far from being main-stream, geeks love it, and it meshes nicely with real estate.
3. They have been able to do a good job with PR. PR is the most important strategy for a web 2.0 business today. When meeting with a VC, you get to say things like “we haven’t spent anything on advertising.” Then you get to say things like “our growth is organic” or “our growth is viral.” Everyone likes that.
1. No inventory. Sure, trulia has a ton of listings…maybe 2% of the listings in each market they serve (probably less). Why in the hell would Joe Buyer want to look at 2% of the available homes for sale in his market when he can visit any local IDX site and view everything? So he can play with a map?
2. Slow, slow, slow. When you use trulia it feels like you are on a dial-up connection. The pages take forever to load – if you accidentally mouse over something, it slows everything else down. The site is just dreadfully slow.
3. I think the two points above are fatal.
First: What it comes down to is this. Using trulia is a waste of time. If I am a serious buyer, I do not want to visit 15 websites (not even 2 websites) to see what is available. I want to go to one website – and I do not want it to feel like I am on a 14.4 modem. Trulia will never have a meaningful percentage of the market (unless they join every MLS in the country).
Second: As far as agents and brokers using trulia – Its pretty simple, trulia is a pimp - and if you feed them all of your listings, you are a whore. Without your listings, trulia would not exist…they should be paying you for content…not the other way around.
Sure, they may not be charging you anything right now, but a good crack dealer never does. When you find yourself dependent, you better believe you will be paying the piper.
If you want to spend your time and money building businesses for other people, give me a call – I can help you out with that.