What the Trulia / Zillow Merger Means to Vail Valley Real Estate


What could it mean? Not as much as you might think.


Many outside the real estate business look at the Trulia / Zillow merger as a huge shakeup for our industry. Responses range from over-the-top expectations to more measured hopes that the merger will empower buyers and sellers.  Some real estate professionals are worried the single company will have too much influence on the industry.

Here’s the truth about the Trulia / Zillow Merger: Where the used to be two major syndicated real estate portals competing on the web (and a distant third), there will now be two major syndicated real estate portals cooperating on the web. The companies save money they once spent against each other, some Wall Street types make money … and that’s it.

Here is why:  

(1) While we hope that this merger leads to increased accuracy, we have no reason to hope that will be the case.

(2) The trend towards searching for homes online was already underway before the merger, and will continue regardless of it.

(3) While the may change some of the particulars of our day-to-day job, it will have little or no effect on our overall goal of assisting buyers and sellers of Vail Valley Real Estate.

“Bigger” Doesn’t Automatically Mean “More Accurate”

As licensed Realtors, we either adhere to a Code of Ethics or we lose our license.  As members in good standing of our local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), we either provide accurate listing information or pay a fine. Syndicated sites are bound by no such restriction, and are thus free to collect their information in the most haphazard manner available – online syndication, usually of dated MLS data, mixed with information from other web sites using even older MLS data. They remain free to run this information through an algorithm and produce “price estimates” lacking both accuracy and context.

Over time, the methods and algorithms syndicators employ may improve. Government or professional regulation may someday hold syndicators accountable for accurate information.  Simply turning two sites into one does neither.

The Shift to Online Property Searches Will Continue

The merger of Trulia and Zillow will not suddenly convince home shoppers to start their search on the internet.  The convenience and accessibility of the internet already did that.  Many years ago, most buyers came to us with a set of criteria and we created a list of properties. Today, most buyers come with a list of properties to help us get started. That has been true for years, and seems likely to be increasingly common regardless of the merger.

The Professional Agent Still Has A Place

Your home is likely your largest asset. The concept of working with a professional to assist you in the process of buying or selling a home makes just as much sense in the internet age as it did in the pre-internet age.

Before the merger, sellers sought agents for marketing expertise, local knowledge and assistance in listing their home for sale. Buyers sought agents for accurate information, help with negotiating and to oversee the home-buying process.

Today, all of that is still true.

More on the Trulia / Zillow Merger

Trulia, Zillow and Vail Valley Real Estate

A Response to Business Week on The Trulia / Zillow Merger

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