In the ongoing war for online real estate domination, the combatants lob (metaphorical) grenades at each other quite frequently.
Most recently, Move (MOVE), which operates Realtor.com for the National Association of Realtors, and Zillow (Z) have been involved in what looks to be a particularly nasty 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.
In early July, Move and NAR won the opening battle in the suit, when Washington State Superior Court Judge Barbara Linde issued a preliminary injunction in the case, finding that Samuelson misappropriated trade secret information by acquiring it using improper means, and by copying it without authorization.
While the battle between Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia (TRLA), Redfin and others isn’t always this contentious, the struggle for online real estate traffic is very, very real.
Last week, Trulia and Zillow both reported record-breaking traffic for June. Zillow has increased its traffic in each of the last five months, topping out at just shy of 83 million in June, which eclipsed May’s total by 1.5 million visitors.
The site had a year-over-year increase of 49% from June 2013, when the site had 55.7 million visitors, to June 2014, when the site had 82.99 million visitors.
Trulia broke its own record in June as well. The site welcomed 54 million unique visitors in June, which is up 55% from June 2013. The company’s traffic was up 3 million from May 2014.
Those sites may be breaking records, but Realtor.com has launched a new advertising campaign designed to hit the big boys where it hurts — the quality of each sites’ listings.
"Accuracy is critically important for serious buyers and sellers, but the Accuracy Matters awareness campaign is about more than just listings data - it's about sound professional advice as well, from Realtors with unparalleled local insights," said Steve Berkowitz, chief executive officer for Move. "This commitment leverages both campaigns to help consumers understand the combined advantage of using realtor.com while working with a Realtor."
According to Move, the site’s “Accuracy Matters” campaign aims to emphasize that Realtor.com “provides the most accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive real estate listings and content available online.”
Realtor.com has often touted its connection to NAR as a benefit for buyers, sellers and agents as well. The new ad campaign highlights the “valuable” role Realtors play in the market and online.
Realtors and real estate agents have often complained about being squeezed out of the process by Zillow and Trulia or having to pay for a featured place on the respective sites.
"Some have suggested that new technologies should make buying a home more like buying an airline ticket or a stock certificate, but they're missing the point," said NAR President Steve Brown. “You don't live your life in a stock share, raise your kids in seat 7B, or build your future online.
"Real estate transactions are the most significant personal and financial engagement most Americans ever make. In today's competitive and complex environment, Realtors combine technology with the real-life insight and market knowledge that buyers and sellers need to succeed."