Realtor.com Boss Dismisses 20% Traffic Drop and Claims Portal Business Is Not Winner Takes All

May 17, 2023
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The boss of American number two portal Realtor.com has claimed that dropping traffic numbers aren't his company's focus and that he won't be drawn into a public mud-slinging contest.

In an interview with U.S. publication Real Estate News, David Doctorow said that the portal's recent 20% year-on-year drop in traffic was not a big focus and that his company could do "a lot of things to make that number bigger". Instead Move Inc., which is the parent of Realtor.com, is focused on getting a higher-quality audience.

The company claims that according to an independent survey, 53% of consumers who use Realtor.com are looking to be matched with an agent compared with 41% at Zillow - a claim Zillow refutes.

Hinting at the practices of Realtor's longtime rival, Doctorow said that his portal does not want to "risk undermining what's right for the consumer" by pushing its own adjacent products on consumers. Doctorow, who has been in charge of Move since 2020, also hinted that his company would not get involved in the media-fuelled mud-slinging match that has been going on between Zillow and new rival CoStar:

"Our focus is not on creating a narrative that sounds good, or is engaging, or is trying to bait a public dialogue. That's just unhelpful to what we're trying to accomplish, and what we should be trying to accomplish."

On the subject of the recently aborted $3 billion acquisition deal that would have seen Move Inc., sold off to CoStar, Doctorow was coy but did say that the bosses at the commercial real estate giant "were intrigued about something that was working [at Realtor.com]."

Perhaps the most revealing comments from the brief written interview were Doctorow's thoughts on the nature of the real estate portal business in the United States which the CEO believes is one where all participants can improve the consumer experience and is definitely not a winner takes all environment.

"We do not have to take all of the dollars in the real estate transaction and the loan, the title, etc. There's plenty to go around. Of course, we're a business, so we need to make money, but we're not trying to steal all of the attached business.

It's a $200 billion marketplace between real estate and the adjacencies. Realtor.com is not yet a billion-dollar revenue company. So is there still room for multiple businesses to grow in this arena, even if the market has gone down for a period of time? Of course."

Move Inc's recent Q1 earnings report saw the company's revenues drop 17% compared to 2022 while Zillow's were down 13%.

Those figures were put into stark relief by Zillow's claim that overall transaction dollars in the market were down 27% and by Doctorow's claim that currently there are "three Realtors in the nation for every listing that's out there."

May 17, 2023
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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