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Trulia + Zillow = ???

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This morning I received an email from Trulia CEO Pete Flint announcing that Trulia has just entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Zillow.  The official press release can be read by clicking here!

Trulia is an online real estate website that services buyers, sellers, renters, and realtors.  The San Francisco based headquartered company launched in 2005, originally just serving the state of California.  With a large demand of listing agents wishing to use Trulia to make their listings more visible on a national scale, Trulia quickly began expanding to more and states.  Less than a year later, Trulia was advertising properties across the entire United States.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trulia

Zillow is also an online real estate website that sees themselves more as a database and state that they are a media company that generates revenue by selling online advertising.  It too was created in 2005 and covers property through the United States with data on 110 million homes.  Zillow is probably best known for their “zestimates” which I find to be consistently inaccurate and misleading (especially in the area of the Eastern Sierra).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zillow

Well this acquisition is no small one!  In a stock-for-stock transaction, Trulia is being acquired for 3.5 billion dollars and expected to close sometime next year. It is being said that both the Trulia and Zillow consumer brands will remain intact, as well as Flint continuing to operate as Trulia’s CEO.  But what’s this mean for the public?  What’s this mean for the realtors?  Zillow’s CEO Spencer Rascoff has been quoted saying that “mobile is becoming the medium of choice for home shopping.”

While I definitely agree with Rascoff (and could perhaps go even further in my sense that mobile might already be the medium of choice for home shopping), I do have a strong opinion about whether or not these online leaders in real estate data are helpful to buyers and sellers.  I can’t speak for the rest of the nation, but I can definitely tell you that within the town Mammoth Lakes (and our surround communities), the information often provided online by these companies is incorrect and/or heavily out dated.

It seems like it is just about monthly that I respond to inquiry about a home for sale within our local market and MLS that a potential buyer saw online at Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com, only to quickly research and realize that the listing is expired or sold.  Then it often seems like we the realtors take the brunt of it as our first contact with these potential buyers is one of disappointment and frustration.

In an article today by CNN Money, the author wrote:
“The ultimate fear: Zillow and Trulia could make brokers irrelevant.”

Now I don’t practically believe that, as anyone who has bought home has hopefully recognized the value in a realtor’s services as we navigate and assist our clients through the endless paperwork, disclosures, inspections, and other important details that take place within most standard residential real estate escrow transactions. So I guess the next year or two will better outline what this acquisition means for everyone.  But so far I personally feel that these online aggregators of real estate data have been doing more harm than good to the realtors, the buyers, and the sellers.  Perhaps these two powerhouses can collaborate on a process to allow their data to be more accurate in fairness to both the public and the realtor community.

Written by Eric Leach

One Response to “Trulia + Zillow = ???”

  1. Nicole Godoy says:

    I’ve been seeing some really funny posts and cartoons from some of my fellow real estate agents around the US depicting the lack of true property valuations that come from these sites.

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