CoStar Continues Double Digit Revenue Growth Streak and Reports Hugely Improved Traffic Figures in Q4 Results

February 21, 2024
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The US real estate data company, marketplace operator and residential newcomer, CoStar has released its numbers for the fourth quarter of 2023. Highlights from its report include:

  • Q4 revenue stood at $640m, up 11.7% year-on-year while revenue for the whole year was $2.45 billion, up 12.5%.
  • EBITDA for Q4 was $98m, down 37% year-on-year while for the year the figure was $390m, down 33%.
  • Net income was $375m for the year, compared to $369m for 2022.
  • CoStar's residential network saw 95 million average unique monthly visitors in Q4.

The results represent the 51st consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth for CoStar and exceeded Wall Street's expectations. Despite this, CoStar shares dipped around 8% from Tuesday's close price of $81 in after-hours trading.

The lower profit figures came amid a billion-dollar marketing drive for the company's residential real estate marketplace Homes.com featuring star-studded Super Bowl ads mentioned by CoStar CEO Andy Florance in comments accompanying the results.

“Once again CoStar Group delivered exceptional results in our commercial information and marketplace businesses for the full year 2023, while at the same time devoting major time and resources towards launching the new Homes.com.

“We launched our first marketing and branding campaign for Homes.com with four commercials in Super Bowl LVIII which was watched by an estimated 123 million viewers. The next day on Monday, February 12th we began monetizing Homes.com, selling subscriptions to residential real estate agents. Our, 'your listing, your lead' business model which puts the agent’s name and company on their listings and sends the consumer lead to them rather than to their competitors, not surprisingly, has been very well received.

The Washington-based company saw record revenue in its commercial data business with Florance praising the division for delivering record profit margins of 40% "in the worst commercial real estate market in decades".

CoStar's multifamily rentals business (which includes the Apartments.com portal) saw revenue grow 23% in 2023 and is now the company's single largest revenue contributor with an annualised revenue run rate of $1 billion.

As for the firm's much-talked-about residential challenger portal, CoStar said that 2024 will mark the turning point in its investment phase. Having bought out Homes.com in 2021, CoStar has since put its money where its marketing slogan is and dialled back the portal's monetization model which was similar to the maligned model used by Zillow and Realtor.com.

Imbued with a new 'your listing, your lead' business model, Homes.com earlier this month unleashed its sales force and started selling premium listing visibility products to US residential agents with Florance excited by the early results.

"By Friday February 16th we were selling more than $1.1 million in net new bookings in a day. Within the first week, we have sold almost $4.5 million in net new bookings."

As for the all-important traffic figures, CoStar continues to report visits to its entire residential real estate network which includes Homes.com as well as its many specialist rentals portals including Apartments.com together. Citing Google Analytics figures, CoStar said it was seeing 95 million average unique monthly visitors in the last three months of 2023.

The company is claiming to be the second most highly trafficked network of residential portals in the US above the likes of Realtor.com and will no doubt report even bigger traffic numbers for Q1.

CoStar's report contained no specific mention of OnTheMarket, the formerly agent-owned challenger real estate portal in the UK which it purchased for £100 million late last year, though it did report $2.2 million in international revenue in its residential segment for 2023. British observers will likely have to wait another quarter to start tracking OnTheMarket's progress under its new owner as it attempts to take on incumbent market leader, Rightmove.

February 21, 2024
Since March 2020 Edmund's job has been to read about, write about, collect data on, analyse and generally know about real estate marketplaces and the companies that run them. Before that he worked at the aggregator Mitula Group (which became Lifull Connect) for five years.

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