The Zillow/Trulia merger could mean serious alterations to how agents and consumers interact.
After a weekend filled with rumor and speculation, news dropped this morning that Zillow will indeed acquire Trulia for a cool $3.5 billion, creating by far the largest real estate syndication site on the Internet.
Spencer Rascoff, Zillow's chief executive, spoke to The New York Times about the merger.
“Both companies are coming at this from a lot of strength and momentum,” Rascoff said. “When we approached them, I think they were both very open-minded about it.”
What could such a merger mean for the greater real estate industry, though? And how could it impact your day-to-day business? Here are three of the most profound implications to keep in mind:
1. Supersize Me – Here's a statement to boggle the mind – with the Zillow/Trulia merger, the resulting company will have nearly 85 million unique visitors a month, based on traffic data from Clareity Consulting's Beyond Syndication 2014 report. That would not only put the merged company far ahead of the pack, but would also give it a greater market share than the No. 3, 4 and 5 real estate syndication sites combined.
In other words, the merger will create an enormous company, one with considerable power over the advertising and marketing options available to real estate agents. Would that mean higher prices? It's difficult to say, but obviously, a Zillow/Trulia merger would eliminate the strongest competition right now for agents' advertising/marketing dollars.
2. Data Chokehold –The biggest reason behind a Zillow/Trulia merger is, arguably, a data-centric one, given how prominent a role data has played in the two syndication sites' ongoing battle with Move, Inc. (and the realtor.com site that it oversees).
It's the great irony of our time: though Zillow and Trulia have received negative attention for the accuracy of their listing data, and though realtor.com has long touted the direct MLS feeds that supply it with its data, consumers have frequented Zillow and Trulia far more often than they have realtor.com. In the aforementioned Clareity Consulting data, for instance, the two sites boasted three and a half times the Web traffic of realtor.com.
With the two websites merging, though, it's possible that they could command more agreements with MLS systems, and would, finally, shake off the "inaccurate listings" stigma.
3. Knocking on NAR's Door – Finally, as the two aforementioned points hint at, a Zillow/Trulia merger will create a substantial challenge to the realtor.com brand, and one can only wonder how NAR and Move, Inc. will respond to such a development. Consider this – in terms of market share, Zillow and Trulia have already surpassed realtor.com in their own rights; with the two merging, though, what can that mean for the most noted brand in real estate?