Since I started in real estate in 2001, the fear of being disintermediated, being rendered meaningless or obsolete has been a constant. I’ve chosen to not subscribe to that fear. And still don’t.
Zillow is buying Trulia. For $3.5 Billion. The Zestimate was $2 billion. (ba-dum-bum) Good for them - they're smart companies that execute well. Truzillia? Zillowia? ZillowTru? None. They’re going to remain two separate companies, drawing advertising from the same constituency as before. They’ll save money, but the ones paying likely won’t.
"We started Zillow as a media property, not a real-estate brokerage," said Spencer Rascoff, chief executive of Seattle-based Zillow. "We sell ads, not houses."
A few thoughts, as I truly think it's too early to draw any credible conclusions:
- One of my first questions was "why didn't Zillow buy Realtor.com?" - aside from the entangling relationship that Realtor.com's parent Move has with the National Association of Realtors, I'd argue that simply put, Trulia is a better site and business than Realtor.com. Simple.
- How is the consumer affected?
As a friend/client emailed me: ""Now only half of the sites will get the data wrong? ;-)”
Zillow and Trulia have fought and will continue to fight for accurate-enough-to-get-eyeballs data. Accurate enough because the casual consumer doesn’t seem to care about inaccurate data. Smart consumers are well-enough attuned to the market to know when to not trust what they see on Zillow - and when to vet said inaccuracy through the MLS.
Searching for homes will now be easier in some respects and harder in others. One big site to search, one big place on which to advertise.
Will Zillow and Trulia share data and data feeds? If so, good.
The consumer is going to feel even more empowered than they already do, and the savvy ones will acknowledge what Don Rumsfeld said many years ago - they don’t know what they don’t know. There is immense value in hiring a real estate guide, a person to whom you can direct your dumb questions, who’s going to prompt you to ask the questions you don’t know to ask, who’s going to listen and help assemble the right team for your real estate purchase or sale.
Discerning good information from bad is going to become an even more critical skill (that’s relevant for life, too - just because it’s on the Interwebs doesn’t make it true).