Move turns a profit on sagging revenue

Realtor.com operator testing ads next to listings

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Realtor.com operator Move Inc. reported a $1.2 million second-quarter profit despite a slight decline in revenue from the same period a year ago.

The 2 percent year-over-year decline in revenue, to $48.9 million, was partly the result of a decline in subscribers to the company’s lead generation and marketing tool, Top Producer 8i, the company said.

Top Producer’s Market Snapshot and Market Builder products also brought in less revenue "due to reduced spending by real estate professionals," the company said, and revenue from enhanced listings also dropped.

Move has begun pilot tests in seven regional markets of a new ad service, "Connection for co-brokerage," in which unbranded lead forms are placed next to "unenhanced" Realtor.com listings when listing brokers haven’t paid for enhancements such as additional photos. Leads generated by the forms are provided to buyer’s agents who have committed to responding promptly.

Realtor.com is providing listing enhancements that it usually charges for, such as additional photos and publishing the listing agent’s name, to listing brokers who agree to participate in the tests.

Listing brokers who don’t want to participate can opt out of the ads, which are similar to those employed by Realtor.com competitors Zillow and Trulia, appearing next to their listings.

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Move said second-quarter revenue declines were partially offset by new products, including ListHub reports and fees from operation and support of MortgageMatch.com.

Move acquired ListHub’s parent company, Threewide Corp., for $13.1 million near the end of third-quarter 2010, putting Move in the listings syndication business.

Move is looking for a new lending partner for its mortgage website, MortgageMatch.com, which launched in December. Until it finds one, consumers can’t use the site to prequalify and apply for loans.

But Move was also profitable because it cut general and administrative expenses by 12 percent, to $9.5 million, and sales and marketing expenses by 5 percent, to $17.9 million.

Spending on product and website development was up 11 percent from a year ago, to $9 million — a result of incremental investments in technology platforms and new mobile applications, the company said.

Mobile apps now account for 25 percent of property views on Realtor.com and other Move Inc. network sites, the company said, and the leads the apps generate for real estate agents are up 400 percent from a year ago.

Move rolled out a Realtor.com iPad app in April, and last month announced the acquisition of social media search platform SocialBios. Move will incorporate SocialBios’ social layering technology into Realtor.com and other sites in the Move network.

In releasing its second-quarter results, Move also announced the appointment of Patty Wehr as chief accounting officer. Wehr, who has been with the company since 2003, most recently as senior vice president, corporate controller, succeeds Rob Krolik, who is moving to Yelp Inc. to help the company prepare for an initial public offering.


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