Zulia, a Reality

By Kevin Greene

Zillow buys Trulia and the 5-year-old joke, Zulia, becomes a reality. So, what is an MLS/Broker to do now? According to the press releases, they merged to take advantage of the $12 billon dollar ad spend by Agents and Brokers. So let me get this straight, Trulia and Zillow are taking the MLS/Brokers data and using that to generate revenue from… Brokers and Agents?!?

As a former Broker, I will never forget when I sold one more listing than the previous year, which took me from a $750 a year tier to the $1,250 a year tier to have MY listings enhanced on Realtor.com. I was furious. I wasn’t too keen on the $90 for three lines in the Florida Times Union’s Open House section either, but I was making a choice to put that ad there. I didn’t have a choice when NAR/MLS put my listing on Realtor.com and if I wanted to get the leads from it, I needed to pony up.

I have been a big proponent of MLS Consumer Sites for some time now. Everyone always references HAR.com as the example. And they should, as Bob Hale and team has successfully taken significant market share from the “Big Three” – Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow. Brokers balk about “leveling the playing field” while Realtor, Trulia and Zillow just continue to use their listings and pitting them against each other to make money off the very people supplying the data. Meanwhile with an MLS Consumer Site, you get an equal market share to your listings, you take market share away from national portals and have control of your listings.

Zillow/Trulia are really media companies, making money on consumer eyeballs. Their stock price is determined on the traffic they acquire. Creating regional portals has several advantages, including giving control of the data, the leads, and the message back to the Brokers. At the same time, you are siphoning traffic from Zillow/Trulia.

It will be interesting to see what Zillow does with Trulia. Do they swallow them whole? Do they continue to run them as a separate channel? One thing is for sure, they are wanting your portion of the $12 billion dollar advertising spend.