[Update 1: Updated with a statement from Zillow in response to ListHub's decision to cancel Trulia listing agreement]
The frosty relationship between Move Inc., which is owned by News Corp (NWS) and operates Realtor.com for the National Association of Realtors, and the newly formed Zillow Group (Z),which includes Zillow and Trulia, is about to get even colder.
ListHub, which is owned by Move, announced Thursday that it is immediately terminating its listing agreement with Trulia, effective in five business days, meaning that any ListHub-provided listing on Trulia.com will disappear on Feb. 26.
ListHub notified Trulia of the cancellation moments ago and began distributing letters to ListHub’s customers alerting them to the change as well.
The two companies are already positioned as the principal combatants in the ongoing battle for online real estate dominance, but the gloves have just come off.
In a statement to HousingWire, ListHub’s general manager, Celeste Starchild, said that the cancellation is a direct result of Zillow’s $2.5 billion acquisition of Truila.
“Today, ListHub notified its customers about the end of its direct syndication relationship with Trulia effective February 26. This action is a result of the completion of Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia this week, and the upcoming dissolution of ListHub’s syndication relationship with Zillow this April,” Starchild said.
“Going forward, ListHub will continue to operate as the industry's most trusted and reliable listing data exchange platform, ensuring that industry-defined data quality standards and protections are upheld with the utmost rigor and that broker choice and control remain at the center of the exchange of listing information.”
It is unknown how many listings will disappear from Trulia on Feb. 26, but Starchild’s letter to customers suggests one way the Zillow Group may move forward.
“Zillow has not specifically announced its plans to power listings on the Trulia website going forward; however, we would assume that Zillow will add Trulia to its network in the same way that it acquired HotPads.com and made it part of the Zillow network,” Starchild said in her letter.
In response to ListHub's decision, Zillow Group Spokesperon Katie Curnutte told HousingWire that Realtors, agents and brokers need to cut out the middleman and send their listings to Zillow and Trulia directly.
"News Corp’s decision to terminate their contract with Trulia underscores what we’ve been saying all along – it’s critical for Multiple Listings Services and Realtor Association Boards to work directly with the largest real estate websites, like Zillow and Trulia, to ensure their seller’s listings can be seen by the largest audience of home buyers," Curnutte said in a statement. "MLSs should not outsource something as important as the online marketing of their members’ listings (and the millions of sellers they represent) to third-party intermediaries like News Corp."
ListHub’s listing agreement with Zillow is also set to expire on April 7, although canceling that agreement was Zillow’s decision.
“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 January.
But in a statement provided to HousingWire at the time, Move said that it hoped to continue its listing agreement with Zillow.
“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.”
The Zillow-ListHub agreement will be over soon, and Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff intimated this week that he’s glad the ListHub relationship is ending.
“When we announced we were parting ways with News Corp, we were constrained on being reliant on a competitor for listings,” Rascoff said Wednesday morning. He said ListHub sent inferior listings to emphasize that Move’s Realtor.com had “higher quality listings.”
To make up for the “few hundred thousand” listings that Zillow expects to lose when the ListHub agreement ends, it recently launched its own listing management system, designed to allow agents and brokers to send listing data directly to Zillow.
When Zillow announced it was canceling the ListHub agreement, the company said that it was reaching out to the affected MLSs to securing listing agreements to prevent listings from disappearing from Zillow.
Rascoff said Wednesday that Zillow has already made progress in that regard. “Two of the three largest MLS have decided to send Zillow listings feeds,” Rascoff said. “Several other deals are in the pipeline.”
The accuracy of listing data has long been a sticking point between Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia and the agents who send their listings to the respective sites.
Move CEO Ryan O’Hara touted Realtor.com’s accuracy in a recent email to his employees explaining Move’s plans for the future.
“How will we compete?” O’Hara asked in the email, which was obtained by HousingWire. “By continuing to build the best web and mobile experiences for consumers and the best and most valuable tools for brokers and agents, and by providing the market with the most comprehensive, most accurate and most up-to-date listings in the U.S.”
O’Hara said that he believes that Realtor.com’s accuracy is one of the main reasons the site has grown recently.
“Realtor.com is extremely well positioned to compete and thrive in this environment of industry consolidation and data-driven customers,” O’Hara added.
Starchild said that Listhub will continue to provide broker listing data to “158 industry-friendly publisher sites,” including consumer-facing websites for MLSs and franchisors as well as data synchronization for dozens of marketing and back-office products.
“As the nation’s leading syndication provider serving more than 560 MLSs and 80,000 brokers across the country, ListHub also will be focused on driving the interoperability of leading technology solutions, and on providing the industry’s most complete and actionable metrics about listing performance,” Starchild said.
Click here or see below for a copy of the letter Listhub is sending to all of its customers.
As you may know, Zillow finalized its acquisition of Trulia this week. In accordance with the terms of the agreement between ListHub and Trulia, the acquisition means an end to the ListHub agreement with Trulia, and consequently, listings no longer will be provided to Trulia directly through the ListHub platform.
Zillow has not specifically announced its plans to power listings on the Trulia website going forward; however, we would assume that Zillow will add Trulia to its network in the same way that it acquired HotPads.com and made it part of the Zillow network.
ListHub will allow for a transitionary period of five business days to ensure a smooth transition for our MLS and brokerage customers, at which time Trulia will be removed from the publisher choices dashboard.
As we have previously announced, if you do not wish to continue providing your listings to Zillow, no further action is required. If you do wish to continue providing your listings to the Zillow network (now including Trulia) after April 7, you will be required to make arrangements to send your listings to Zillow directly.
ListHub will continue to accept analytics in order to provide reporting for the Zillow network in the ListHub consolidated dashboard with all other publisher sites. ListHub also will continue to support our extended network of publisher websites, including franchise websites, global advertising, connector products for brokers’ back office systems and the dozens of publisher websites that we support today.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions.