Industry News

Competition heats up among real estate Web sites

Search is on for new revenue models

Slower housing markets have ratcheted up competition throughout the real estate industry, and realty search-engine Web sites haven't escaped the trend. Among them are Realtor.com, Homescape, Zillow and Trulia, all of which depend on realty advertising for at least some of their revenue. But shifting markets aren't the only significant change these companies face. Equally important is the new and unprecedented ease with which prospective home buyers and sellers can now access detailed information about for-sale homes online without giving up identifiable personal data. Listings "are what folks want," said Frank Breithaupt, vice president and general manager of Homescape in Chicago. That singularity of focus suggests that the value of other functions Web sites spend money to develop and promote may be in doubt, he added. Open access to listings has diminished opportunities for companies to turn personal data (i.e., leads) into revenue and forced them to ponder what sorts o...

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