CoStar, With a Market Cap of $35B, Emerges in a Listing Portal Sector Dominated by Zillow and Move.com
In real estate’s latest power move to claim the industry’s data and convert it into an all-in-one service, CoStar has reached an agreement to acquire home-search portal Homes.com for $156M in cash.
According to CoStar, the transaction should close in mid 2021, “subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory review.” The company predicts that this acquisition will provide them with $5 – $10 million in incremental revenue in the second half of 2021.
“We are excited to welcome the Homes.com team to the CoStar family,” said Andrew C. Florance, founder and CEO of CoStar Group, in a statement. “We believe that the acquisition of Homes.com is highly complementary alongside Homesnap, the industry-leading workflow and marketing platform for residential real estate agents that we acquired in December last year. The combination of Homes.com’s online portal and consumer traffic with Homesnap’s powerful mobile tools and highly effective agent marketing solutions has the potential to create a differentiated service that uniquely focuses on selling a house faster and at a better price, rather than just trying to take agent fees.”
A Return to Agents at the Center?
According to Florance, the acquisition will ensure Homes.com competes as an agent-centric platform, alluding to other companies such as Zillow who have monetized data in a way that takes the power away from agents.
“Unfortunately,” continued Florance, “current residential listing sites do not serve the interests of homeowners or their agents as they focus on selling advertisements on top of agent listings and increasingly offer competing brokerage services. These sites generate a portion of their revenue from directing potential homebuyers away from the listing agents to unrelated buyer agents that are advertising on top of listing agent listings. This is a practice we plan to no longer continue. Our plan in bringing Homesnap and Homes.com together is to help agents market their listings in support of the ‘your listing, your lead’ philosophy—which stands in contrast to most players in the industry.”
“We are excited to be joining the CoStar family and continuing our long-standing industry-first commitment, alongside our new colleagues at Homesnap,” David Mele, president of Homes.com, tells RISMedia. “We look forward to further aligning Homes.com with a ‘your listing, your lead’ philosophy. CoStar is committed to building innovative solutions that expand the marketing options available to consumers and their agents. And Homes.com will be an important part of that strategy.”
This move follows a string of acquisitions occurring in the real estate industry as tech companies seek out new data sources as well as expansions that will grant them all-in-one status.
CoStar acquired Homesnap this past November for $250 million. Although the company bid competitively to purchase CoreLogic, CoStar withdrew itself from the acquisition discussions in March, citing fluctuating valuations for residential property technology companies amid rising interest rates.
The Competition Grows Fierce
This latest move may pit CoStar directly against Zillow Group and Move.com, owners of the industry’s most established home-search portals.
Zillow, which currently has a market cap of $33B, has made a flurry of moves in recent years in hopes of becoming a full-service, streamlined buying-and-selling entity—the latest being its acquisition of online scheduling platform ShowingTime.com, Inc. for $500 million. The company offers iBuying services through Zillow Offers, and mortgage, title and escrow services through Zillow Home Loans and Zillow Closing Services. Zillow also took a giant leap in September 2020 by starting its own licensed brokerage: Zillow Homes.
News Corp., parent company of Move, Inc., has a market cap of $15B—the corporation also owns and operates realtor.com®, another well-known home-search portal, which touts itself as the official site of the National Association of REALTORS®. However, the company has taken a back seat in the game of real estate acquisitions; in fact, shedding rather than expanding as of late. Constellation Real estate Group recently acquired Top Producer, buying it out from Move, Inc. in March.
Who Will Win Out in the Acquisition Wars?
It’s difficult to say where the business might be heading. One thing is certain: There’s a seismic shift happening as the industry becomes cognizant of the power of data in real estate.
As technology companies continue to bolster their offerings, real estate brokerages are taking the lead on laying claim to their own data by looking toward proprietary systems and inclusive software that negate the need to leave the brokerage and seek out third-party services for listing data, CRMs, lead generation, marketing, etc.
For example, during RE/MAX’s recent 2021 R4 convention, the company announced the brand’s merging of Seventy3—its data center which pulls information from MLSs nationwide—with the Gadberry Group, to create G73: a united data organization with information on almost every property in the U.S., according to RE/MAX. Brokerages like Keller Williams and Compass have also garnered reputations in recent years as technology companies, creating in-house tech platforms rather than purchasing external solutions.
According to CoStar, Homes.com supports over 500,000 residential U.S. agents and brokers in the home-sale process, receiving approximately 5 million visits each month and hosting nearly 1.8 million residential property listings.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned to rismedia.com for more information.
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.