Two Media Companies Merged in the Woods…

And I. I Continued to Sell Real Estate.

In case you were, you know, living your life, you may have missed what goes down as huge news in the real estate industry.

Zillow agreed to acquire Trulia for a lot of money via stock.

And, while this is newsworthy, two large, niche-specific, media companies merging usually is, the larger question for consumers should be, “How does this affect my ability to buy and sell real estate?”

Here’s the immediate, short, answer: It doesn’t.

Here’s the long term, short-ish, answer: It should make the process more customized to your needs. [heavy emphasis on should]

What the What?

There is a thought process in real estate that goes like this: Agents, brokers and real estate boards have given our information (listing data) away and now it is time to put the cow back in the barn.

The problem with this thought process is that the internet does a great job of making data flow quickly, cheaply, and abundantly. Like money in politics, data will always find a way to be freed. To jam the “real estate data” cow back into the barn she burst forth from, will be an impossible task.

IF the cow is successfully wrangled and put back, the real estate consumer would be absolutely correct, in my opinion, to scream, “See? I told you the real estate industry is full of a bunch of shysters!” Collectively, as an industry, we would have simply reconfirmed the stereotype many of us have consistently battled at the listing table, on buyer appointments or in general conversation; that we are only ever concerned with our pocketbooks and not the consumers.

Wait. You Said Z & T Are Media Companies?

My friend in Indy, Greg Cooper, had this recent observation:
Zillow & Trulia are Media CompaniesThe point here, for consumers of real estate information, is that these companies are no more vested in your home purchase or sale, than your local purveyor of pizza cares what car you drive.

These media companies make their revenue off the sale of advertising and market positioning of real estate agents and brokerages. That’s it.

Zillia does not make a dime off the sale of your home.

Zillia does not earn a plugged nickel, once you close on a home purchase, after seeing 60 homes.

The important thing here, for consumers to remember, is that Zillia will continue to serve data to consumers, via a great user experience. They are a media company, that sells advertising, and must keep the eyeballs of consumers engaged, in order to sell that advertising to agents and brokers that want for more business.

More Customized Experience?

Foggy DistanceThis is pure conjecture, on my part, but I think it could happen. Unlike others that are predicting the end of real estate agents within two-years (I will not link to that silliness), my take is that brokers will recognize the inordinate amount of money they are dropping on media technologies (IDX and customized searches, specifically) that Zillia have done a great job in crafting, and plunge those same dollars into creating market specific tools and applications. In other words, creating a mini-media experience that best reflects the local market the broker operates within and the specific culture of the brokerage. You know, those things that help consumers get a feel for the area they are considering moving to or the agent they are considering working with to sell their greatest financial undertaking.

3 Responses to Two Media Companies Merged in the Woods…

  1. Jay T from Zillow here. Other than the fact that we DO care about Zestimate accuracy (the model is constantly being tweaked and improved upon) this piece is spot on, Todd. Thanks for taking the time to pen it!

  2. Jay Thompson, thanks for dropping a note!
    It is my opinion that Zillia has to constantly tweak the algorithms to make the user experience better, moving forward. Does that fact change how I view third party real estate portals? No.
    Nor should producing agents see this as a threat to their business. From my vantage point, third party portals allow my seller’s homes to gain massive numbers of eyeballs on their property. The data this exposure gives me (quantitative data) allows me to have knowledgeable conversations with my sellers.

    I suppose an argument can be made about the ownership of the listing data, but again, that cow went skipping out the barn when Algore invented the Internet.

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