Zillow/Trulia settles with Move; listings will disappear in April

Bitter divorce of ListHub and Zillow Group is complete

[Update 1: Story updated with clarified timeline of court proceedings.]

The bitter divorce of ListHub and the Zillow Group (Z) is now complete.

After taking their battle over listing data to court after Move-owned ListHub attempted to terminate its listing agreement with Trulia, the two parties have settled and ListHub’s listing data will now disappear from Trulia on April 7, the same day it was already set to disappear from Zillow.

The two sides had been at war over listing data provided to Zillow and Trulia, the two main pillars of the Zillow Group. It began in January, when Zillow announced its decision to cancel its listing agreement with ListHub, which is owned by Move, which is owned by News Corp (NWS) and operates for the National Association of Realtors.

The feud was escalated when Zillow completed its $2.5 billion acquisition of Trulia in February, positioning Move and the Zillow Group as the principal combatants in the ongoing battle for online real estate supremacy.

Shortly after the completion of the Trulia acquisition, HousingWire exclusively reported that ListHub informed Trulia that it was immediately terminating its listing agreement with Trulia, effective in five business days, meaning that any ListHub-provided listing on would have disappeared on Feb. 26.

The Zillow Group threatened legal action against Move, in an attempt to keep the ListHub data flowing to Trulia. The two sides met in a California courtroom late last month, where Judge Ernest Goldsmith of the San Francisco Superior Court granted Zillow Group’s request for a temporary restraining order and set a court date of March 12, which kept ListHub listings flowing to Trulia.

The two sides met in court again Thursday and the court ruled to lift the temporary restraining order and not grant the permanent injuction. Zillow Group and Move then agreed ListHub would continue to provide listing data to Trulia until April 7.

Trulia subsequently dismissed its lawsuit.

Considering that ListHub’s agreement with Trulia stretched out well beyond April 7, the decision was celebrated by Move.

"We are extremely pleased and delighted with the court's ruling,” Move said in a statement to HousingWire. “As part of ListHub's commitment to the industry and home buyers and sellers, we have reached an agreement to continue to provide ListHub's data feed to the Zillow Group (which includes Trulia) until April 7th, the day ListHub's agreement ends with Zillow."

The fight over the ListHub listings is a bit ironic, considering what Zillow Group CEO Rascoff said recently. “When we announced we were parting ways with News Corp, we were constrained on being reliant on a competitor for listings,” Rascoff said when the Trulia acquisition was completed. He said ListHub sent inferior listings to emphasize that Move’s had “higher quality listings.”

Rascoff also called the separation from Move a “liberating moment.”

Zillow’s decision to cancel the listing agreement with ListHub was a surprise to Move, which expected the listing agreement to continue.

“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, when it announced it was canceling its agreement.

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.”

But now, after months of fighting, the relationship between ListHub and the Zillow Group is just a few weeks from being completely dissolved.

Despite the loss of the ListHub data, the Zillow Group said it is not concerned with how many listings are actually going to disappear from Zillow and Trulia.

“We are working hard to ensure home sellers and their agents can easily continue to market homes on Trulia, which attracts one of the largest audiences of homebuyers in the country, and we are having tremendous success signing contracts for direct MLS feeds,” Zillow Group Spokeswoman Katie Curnutte said.

“In fact today, we are announcing deals with 18 new MLSs that will send listings directly to both Zillow and Trulia,” Curnutte added. “Trulia already receives a majority of their listings directly from brokers and MLSs, and many others are taking steps to create direct relationship with Trulia if they haven’t already. By the time ListHub stops sending listings to Trulia on April 7, we expect a small percentage of Trulia’s overall listing count to be affected.”

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