Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Some thoughts on the Zillow Trulia merger

As the leading real estate sites Zillow and Trulia combine forces, the industry is abuzz with the ramifications of the merger. The official word is, that there are no plans to merge the websites and they will continue to operate as separate sites.

Consumers have total access to real estate data online. As with everything else online, how will the real estate industry progress along the continuum of ...Noise - Data - Information - Knowledge - Wisdom... remains to be seen.  Having said that, here is my take on how this merger will affect the industry.

Combined resources may mean better data for the consumer. 
The biggest criticism of these real estate websites has been incomplete and inaccurate data. In the long run, this acquisition is good for the industry, because it will consolidate some of the offerings and lead to better all-around data, which will lead to a better consumer experience. If accuracy can be significantly increased, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that was so far the domain of Real estate agents, may be in danger of becoming redundant.

Realtors will continue to be integral to the process of buying and selling a home. 
I feel, Realtors who add value and are tech savvy, will always be sought after. In an industry where barriers to entry are low, this will create a shake out and the agents who do not provide good service, or are part time and fail to update their skills, will have to drop out.

Combined sites will lead to Advertising Price Increases 
Zillow's CEO has maintained that the sites sell ads, not houses. It is not a brokerage but an advertising tool. With the two largest websites merging, their advertisers (Realtors, Brokers and Mortgage lenders) fear that a law of supply and demand will certainly have an impact on prices. A Monopoly may be created because arguably the combined sites have over 75% consumer traffic. Ofcourse there is a viewpoint that the long tail adds up to a lot more consumer eyeballs - so 75% is a highly exaggerated number.

Big real estate corporations will partner with Zillow-Trulia
It will be easier and more cost-effective for the big franchisors to work with these websites, than to fight them. Their “strategic partnerships” will solidify the legitimacy of Zillow-Trulia in the consumer’s mind. Realogy - the parent company that owns the Coldwell Banker franchise (my broker) already has a Fab Plus package in place which gives their agents heavily discounted packages.

More remains to be seen.  I am completely fascinated and feel this will turn into a series of articles for this blog.  Stay tuned.

Bela VoraREALTOR®, 
Coldwell Banker Preferred - Exton Real Estate.
Office: 610 363 6006; Cell: (484) 947 3127
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