In fast-moving developments this week between the real estate portal power players Move Inc., operators of realtor.com® and now owned by News Corp, and the newly formed Zillow Group, which includes Trulia, Move announced Thursday that its listing management service, ListHub will end its syndication agreement with Trulia as of next week.
But in breaking developments Friday, Zillow Group announced it has filed for a temporary restraining order on that move to keep listings going to Trulia. That syndication agreement was originally scheduled to end in June of 2016, a Zillow Group spokesperson reported.
News first broke this week when ListHub announced that it notified its customers Thursday about the end of its direct syndication relationship with Trulia, which will be effective as of February 26. In a statement to RISMedia, ListHub’s general manager, Celeste Starchild, said that the termination is a result of Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia for $2.5 billion, which finally closed Tuesday after a six-month investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.
“This action is a result of the completion of Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia this week, and the upcoming dissolution of ListHub’s syndication relationship with Zillow this April,” stated Starchild.
The statement continued, “Going forward, ListHub will continue to operate as the industry’s most trusted and reliable listing data exchange platform, ensuring that industry-defined data quality standards and protections are upheld with the utmost rigor and that broker choice and control remain at the center of the exchange of listing information.”
But in breaking news Friday, Trulia president Paul Levine issued a statement provided to RISMedia, in which he said that the sudden termination of listings to Trulia would cause an “incredible hardship” for agents and consumers.
“Brokers and agents—and the home sellers they represent—deserve the right to market their listings broadly, as they see fit. Through this sudden and unilateral decision to cut off the ListHub feed to Trulia, News Corp is creating an incredible hardship for agents and consumers, and is demonstrating a lack of understanding of our industry,” said Levine in a statement.
“Direct data feeds are best for everyone, and we are committed to helping brokers, agents and MLSs transition to a direct feed to Trulia, but they deserve the opportunity to do so in an orderly way, without disruption to their business,” continued Levine. “A third party should not determine where and how sellers, agents and brokers are allowed to market their listings.”
Volleying back late Friday afternoon, Move issued the following company response:
“What a difference two days make! On Wednesday, Spencer Rascoff was celebrating the ‘liberating moment’ when ‘we announced we were parting ways with News Corp,’ and how they ‘were really freed from the constraint of being reliant on a competitor for listings,’ listings he (inaccurately) described as ‘inferior.’ Today, they say that the ‘sudden’ loss of those listings is ‘an incredible hardship for agents and consumers.’ What hasn’t changed is that realtor.com remains the best place for agents to find leads and consumers to find homes.”
Should the termination with Trulia proceed, it’s not known how many of ListHub’s listings will be removed as of Feb. 26.
In the company statement by Starchild, issued to RISMedia earlier this week, she stated: “ListHub will continue to provide broker listing data to 158 industry-friendly publisher sites, including consumer-facing websites for MLSs and franchisors as well as data synchronization for dozens of marketing and back-office products. As the nation’s leading syndication provider serving more than 560 MLSs and 80,000 brokers across the country, ListHub also will be focused on driving the interoperability of leading technology solutions, and on providing the industry’s most complete and actionable metrics about listing performance.”
ListHub also issued a letter to its clients this week related to the Trulia announcement, as well as an earlier announcement about its listing agreement ending with Zillow as of its scheduled date in April. The letter reads:
As you may know, Zillow finalized its acquisition of Trulia this week. In accordance with the terms of the agreement between ListHub and Trulia, the acquisition means an end to the ListHub agreement with Trulia, and consequently, listings no longer will be provided to Trulia directly through the ListHub platform.
Zillow has not specifically announced its plans to power listings on the Trulia website going forward; however, we would assume that Zillow will add Trulia to its network in the same way that it acquired HotPads.com and made it part of the Zillow network.
ListHub will allow for a transitionary period of five business days to ensure a smooth transition for our MLS and brokerage customers, at which time Trulia will be removed from the publisher choices dashboard.
As we have previously announced, if you do not wish to continue providing your listings to Zillow, no further action is required. If you do wish to continue providing your listings to the Zillow network (now including Trulia) after April 7, you will be required to make arrangements to send your listings to Zillow directly.
ListHub will continue to accept analytics in order to provide reporting for the Zillow network in the ListHub consolidated dashboard with all other publisher sites. ListHub also will continue to support our extended network of publisher websites, including franchise websites, global advertising, connector products for brokers’ back office systems and the dozens of publisher websites that we support today.
Back in January, Zillow announced that it was planning to end its listing agreement with Threewide Corporation, which owns ListHub when their four-year listing data share agreement would be ending on April 7.
At that time, Move via ListHub had said they had been in negotiations with Zillow in hopes of maintaining the agreement, but ultimately that would not bear out.
Meanwhile, the industry waited for news on the Zillow-Trulia merger closing, which lingered for six months as the Federal Trade Commission completed its investigation. That announcement came last Friday, Feb. 13 when Zillow announced the investigation was complete and the acquisition would be finalized, which happened this past Tuesday, Feb. 17.
Following, both companies released in effect their game on statements, citing what the industry and consumers would experience as a benefit to both their respective positions as the two main portal power players in the industry.
Stay tuned to RISMedia to follow the latest developments on the battle over Trulia listings as the portal power play continues.