ListHub, a wholly owned subsidiary of Move, has terminated its distribution agreement with Zillow. This is the first aggressive move by the company following its acquisition by News Corp (and the REA Group) late last year.
In a SEC announcement, Zillow has informed the market the agreement will be terminated in 90 days as per the original agreement entered into in 2011.
The impact is to significantly reduce the number of listings being sent to and displayed on Zillow. However, this is likely to be short term as Zillow will simply go direct to the brokerages and the MLS' to source the listings.
Move clearly needed to make this move in an attempt to differentiate itself from Zillow and Trulia. They are hoping that by having more listings content, they will be able to increase the number of visits the site. This essential as they are trailing both Zillow and Trulia by a long way. According to SimilarWeb, Zillow had 52m visits in November, Trulia 27m visits, and Realtor.com had 19m visits.
However, Zillow will simply increase its investment in sourcing listings directly. They will go to brokerages and MLS' directly and enter into individual agreements. This will take time however they are already doing this. Once this is in place, the status quo will be returned and Move will have to invest significantly in building the Realtor.com brand.
The real question is what impact this has on the ListHub. For a service like ListHub to have real value to the agent and broker, it has to be agnostic in its distribution of listings. When it distributes to some sites and not others, it starts to lose its value and the door opens for competitors to enter the market. It is likely that a plethora of new services will enter the market offering to distribute listings to Zillow and Trulia.
The other question is what will Move do next in its war against Zillow and Trulia?
ListHub and Move Inc will have representatives at the Property Portal Watch Conference on the 26th and 27th January. Sign up before the 12th January and secure the Early Bird rate.