With the close of the multi-billion dollar merger deal between Zillow (Z) and Trulia (TRLA) now complete, the landscape of online real estate is about to change dramatically again. But the companies’ largest competitor says it’s not really worried about what Zillow-Trulia does going forward and expects the companies to struggle through the integration process.
In fact, Move Inc., which is owned by News Corp (NWS) and operates Realtor.com for the National Association of Realtors, said that it’s already seeing record traffic on Realtor.com and expects those figures to only grow.
“Zillow’s year of the merge will be Realtor.com’s year of the surge,” Move said. “As our competitor grapples with the challenges of integrating two very similar businesses, Realtor.com will continue to provide the most accurate and up-to-date property listings in America, as well as the most valuable professional tools for brokers and agents.”
The battle between the online real estate giants has only escalated in the last few months.
Soon after Zillow and Trulia announced their merger, News Corp announced in September that it intended to buy Move and bring Realtor.com into the News Corp family of media properties.
When News Corp made the acquisition of Move official, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said he wanted to “turbo-charge” Realtor.com.
“In partnership with the National Association of Realtors and its 1 million members, we look forward to turbo-charging realtor.com and making it the most popular and profitable property site in America,” Thomson said in November.
And the relations between Zillow and Move have been far from cordial in the last few months as well.
Since early last year, Zillow and Move have been engaged in a legal battle over the hiring of Errol Samuelson.
Samuelson is currently the chief industry development officer for Zillow. He was hired away from Move and Realtor.com in early March. Later in March, Move and NAR sued Zillow for breach of contract, alleging that Samuelson stole trade secrets and intellectual property from Move and brought it with him to Zillow.
And late last year, the battle between Zillow and Move ramped up a couple notches, when Zillow disclosed that its listing agreement with Listhub will end on April 7.
Zillow made the disclosure in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission filed in January. In the SEC filing, Zillow said it is ending its four-year listing agreement with Threewide Corporation, which operates Listhub. Threewide is also owned by Move.
“There is no dispute between the parties with respect to the agreement, and Zillow will not incur any early termination penalties as a result of the agreement’s expiration,” Zillow said in its SEC filing.
But a in a statement provided to HousingWire, Move said that it hoped to continue the listing agreement.
“ListHub has been negotiating in good faith a new listing distribution and reporting agreement with Zillow on terms that reflect the best interests of the brokerage industry,” Move said in a statement. “As communicated in public announcements, Zillow decided to end those negotiations and announced the launch of their own platform. Zillow chose their own route for their business model and interests.”
As for where things stand now, Move reports that Realtor.com saw record traffic and increases in audience engagement that extended through the month of January and believes it’s ready to take on Zillow-Trulia.
“We believe we’re well positioned to compete and win in an environment of industry consolidation and data-driven consumers,” Move said.
“Combining Move’s and News Corp’s real estate and media platforms enables us to connect a growing audience of buyers, sellers and renters with the market’s most accurate and timely information, relevant news content and unparalleled professional expertise in order to help people find their perfect home.”