Dear Zillow-meisters – Better start makin’ copies of the Trulia-nator

The folks at Trulia, have just released a new feature that is cooler than the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. In fact, I think Zillow and will need to order more photocopiers. Trulia has just released their Trulia Publisher Platform, and the coolness of this feature is that it lets publishers use their search technology, with your listings, with a publisher’s co-branding, and at no cost to the publisher. This is the real estate equivalent of Google AdSense and will change the nature of the real estate web advertising game, perhaps drastically.

Currently, Trulia has signed up Kiplinger, American Towns, and perhaps most interesting, Seattle Weekly. Getting Seattle Weekly as a publishing partner has to annoy Zillow more than Apple giving free computers to Redmond-area schools annoyed Microsoft. If Trulia can sign up more publishers (frankly the value proposition is so simple & compelling for small to medium sized publishers, I can’t think of a reason why they won’t sign up) they are going to have to upgrade their servers to handle the increase in traffic.

What’s this mean for publishers? Well if they are small or medium sized, they just got a much more effective way of associating their brand and increasing real estate related web traffic. Granted, Trulia controls the listings and the technology, but if your core competency isn’t real estate search, getting a co-branded search tool is much more cost effective. And since Trulia has over 2 million listings, the publishers will probably get more traffic & ad revenue too. Seems like an easy decision to me.

If you’re a big publisher, it’s a much harder decision. But since developing technology is expensive and getting listings critical mass is difficult, I suspect the desire to partner w/ Trulia got much stronger unless you’re a direct Trulia competitor. If Trulia gets big web media players to partner with it, things could get very interesting.

What’s this mean for I dunno, but it’s increasingly looking like they are going to get HouseValued (yes, I just made that verb up), if they don’t show some brain activity.

What’s this mean for Zillow? Just when Zillow’s listings feed program was getting off the ground, Trulia does this! I’m guessing the sales & engineering departments just learned what they are going to be working on for the next several months.

What’s this mean for the broker in the trenches or realtor on the street? Well, if you have a Trulia listings feed, you just got more free exposure. If you pay Trulia to feature your listings more prominently, well you just got a much better return on your investment. If you liked the free traffic Trulia gave you before, you’re going to LOVE them now. Perhaps even more than the 12th man, loves his Seahawks.

30 thoughts on “Dear Zillow-meisters – Better start makin’ copies of the Trulia-nator

  1. Did someone say Lambeau? Maybe Hasselbeck will call his shot at the opening kickoff this time, eh?

    In all seriousness, this is huge news. Kudos to Trulia on a job well done.

    Cashing in my voucher that they gave us for participating in Voices just climbed a few notches on my list. $50/mo seems like a bargain, compared to spending hundreds on a homes & land ad.

  2. Why would I, as a buyer, use Trulia’s property search to look at 78 listings in zip code 98221, when there are more than 300 listings in the same zip code on any local agent’s website?

  3. Jan, here are 2 reasons why I would.

    1. You as the buyer live in another county, another state, or another country, and are blissfully unaware of the agent/broker web sites that are using the MLS data that serves the area in question.

    2. There is large and growing amount of inventory out there, so the fact that Trulia doesn’t have all the listings isn’t as important as it used to be (esp, since Trulia is still growing it’s listings share, for lack of a better term) Also Trulia has much better technology that 95% of all broker/agent web sites.

    After all, is very successful, despite the fact that still carries 10x more products. There is more than one way to find what you are looking for.

  4. Yep, that’s the rub with Trulia. Having less than a full MLS feed is a huge hurdle.

    I know that they they added foreclosure listings from RealtyTrac (which aren’t included in a MLS feed), but IMO without a full address and requiring registration they just make the search results ‘noisier’.

    In the meantime, coming from an agent’s point of view, I’m getting traffic from Trulia and as long as my properties are getting additional exposure and I can track it, I’ll stick with them.

  5. Andy,

    There’s nothing really preventing an MLS board from giving Trulia their listings, like many MLSes do today with Many MLS vendors are trying to make this even easier than it is already. I agree they’ll never get 100% of the inventory, they just need “critical mass”. (I don’t know if that number is 25%, 50%, 95%, etc, but they are getting closer every day). Even a broker / agent MLS/IDX site doesn’t have 100% of the inventory because it’s always playing catch-up and sync-up with the MLS servers, so it probably hovers around 99%.

    My clients are getting a lot of traffic from Trulia. It’s not organic Google levels, but it’s a solid first place in terms of non-search engine traffic. At any rate, it’s a better bargain for your ad dollars, than many/most other alternatives.

  6. Nice to see that our advertising on all of these sites is getting a boost! We use so many online avenues today that we like to see them working hard to keep our listings online with them. I will say though, as a RE/MAX agent, we have our own kick-butt site that provides national listings and that ranks just as highly as these other sites and the site. As a local agent though our clients expect us to use as many resources as possible to showcase their home – and we do.

  7. Andy,

    What about the RealtyTrac listings bothers you? It kinda feels like mixing new & used books in a way, but I can’t put my finger on what I don’t like about it.


    RE/MAX to their credit, does have a national site that generates roughly the same amount of traffic as the national portals (millions of visitors/month). Of course, if you compete against RE/MAX in the trenches, you may not be happy about that fact, since unlike Trulia, they probably won’t send you referring traffic. And if you are a RE/MAX agent, I hope the national site is sending you referrals and/or traffic.

  8. Personally, I would like to see Trulia succeed. I’ve grown tired of the traditional MLS real estate system. The combination of 3rd party mapping with house listings is only going to grow until it becomes sort of the Google of real estate, IMHO.

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  10. @Robbie – “1. You as the buyer live in another county, another state, or another country, and are blissfully unaware of the agent/broker web sites that are using the MLS data that serves the area in question.”

    If I remember correctly according the NAR something like 85% of people buy a home within 9 miles of where they currently live. Therefore it is important to have inventory, since many are driving around -> see a sign -> write the address -> go home and look up the price and inside photos instead of calling the local agent as they are not ready to be sold a home. If they don’t find the house on a larger site, they will in turn move onto sites that have the listings.

    This maybe part of the reason why T is also reducing mapsearch size since they are seening this trend in the analytics.

    I think that savy consumers will really start to understand lack of inventory from most of these major sites and purposefully seek out local sites.

  11. Robbie,
    I’m glad you like the new product launch! We’re really excited about the potential of this new service for our real estate partners, Trulia and the new publisher partners.
    We’re reviewing all the feedback from all across the web and inbound comments, but if you have any other thoughts on how we can improve the service as it evolves or other ideas, feel free to email me directly.
    Best wishes

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