Could Realtor.com Surpass Zillow & Trulia Despite Merger?

Published by: Dave Simmons on 13th Mar 2015 | View all blogs by Dave Simmons

Could Realtor.com Surpass Zillow & Trulia Despite Merger?

 

When Zillow's merger with Trulia was approved in February, most observers assumed the game was over for smaller competitors in the online real estate industry, as the merger brings together the sector's two biggest players.  As evidenced by a string of legal steps taken in the last few weeks, however, competition is still very much alive in the industry thanks to a key strategic advantage held by Realtor.com, the sector's second-largest company after the Trulia acquisition by Zillow.  Realtor.com was acquired late last year by News Corp subsidiary Move.com, which also operates a company called ListHub, which currently supplies listings to both Trulia and Zillow.  Since the Zillow-Trulia merger was approved, ListHub has decided to let its agreement with Zillow expire in April, and to end an agreement with Trulia early.  Trulia asked a court to stop ListHub from pulling its listings, and got a temporary injunction, but the injunction was pulled at a hearing days later.

In the wake of losing listing data from ListHub, both Zillow and Trulia have been frantically seeking their own direct agreements with multiple-listing services, or MLSs, to fill the void with listings.  While both have been rather tight-lipped about their progress, court documents show that Trulia has had “limited success” in securing deals with individual MLS services.  In actions taken against ListHub and parent company Move, Trulia accuses ListHub of offering incentives to MLS services to work exclusively with ListHub and its partners, effectively cutting off Zillow and Trulia to listing data for certain markets.  It is estimated that ListHub has agreements in place for 500 unique MLS feeds, while Trulia is believed to only have access to 125 MLS feeds.  

 

As all parties have been relatively quiet about the ongoing friction, the effect of losing the ListHub agreements on Zillow and Trulia won't be known until April 7th, when the Zillow agreement officially comes to an end.  Some observers have estimated that the two real estate giants could lose as much as 25 percent of their listings, while others have predicted the effect will be hardly noticeable.  If the two sites fail to makeup for the lost listing data, it could leave an opening for Realtor.com to pass its bigger rival (the combined Zillow/Trulia beast).

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