Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com strengthen their hold on consumers

Movoto breaks into top 10 most visited real estate websites, surpasses Redfin

Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com captured more than a third of all visits to real estate sites from desktop computers in April for the first time.

Real estate’s three largest portals have been slowly growing their overall real estate Web traffic share from desktop computers for at least the last 18 months, according to Experian Marketing Services data.

Horse race image via Shutterstock.
Horse race image via Shutterstock.

(Unlike its digital analytics competitor comScore, Experian measures Web traffic by total visits rather than unique visitors and currently does not report traffic from mobile devices or mobile apps. See recent Inman News story analyzing comScore March data).

Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com captured 34.4 percent of the 360 million visits to real estate sites last month – 8.2 percentage points above their collective Web market share in April 2013.

As it has for the last few months, Zillow came in at No. 1 by a wide margin, capturing 17.39 percent of desktop traffic in April, nearly twice the desktop traffic of Trulia and more than twice that of realtor.com.

Top 3 real estate websites, April 2014

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Website Total visits Share of visits
1. Zillow 62.6 million 17.39%
2. Trulia.com 32.8 million 9.10%
3. Realtor.com 28.5 million 7.91%

Source: Experian Marketing Services

The growth in traffic coincides with massive consumer marketing campaigns the firms have recently rolled out. Zillow got a head start with a $40 million campaign last year and followed it up this year with a $65 million push. In March, Trulia launched a $45 million national marketing campaign, its first. Realtor.com operator Move Inc. also launched a national campaign this year, as well as a joint marketing campaign with the National Association of Realtors that is expected to boost traffic and awareness of the site.

If sites the big three own or have significant relationships with are counted, the companies’ collective Web market share jumps to 45 percent.

Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com real estate networks

Real estate network Sites April 2014 desktop Web market share
Zillow (Yahoo) network zillow.com, homes.yahoo.com, hotpads.com 23.2%
Trulia (RentPath) network trulia.com, apartmentguide.com, rent.com 11.9%
realtor.com network realtor.com, MSN Real Estate 10.0%

Source: Inman News 

The sites in Zillow’s network include Zillow.com, Yahoo Homes – the fourth most popular site in April and which Zillow supplies with for-sale and for-rent listings under an agreement that dates back to 2011 – and HotPads.com, the popular rental site Zillow acquired in November 2012.

Trulia’s network of sites includes Trulia.com and those sites owned by RentPath Inc. (formerly Primedia) including apartmentguide.com and rent.com. Under an agreement forged in November 2012, Trulia receives all of its multifamily listings from RentPath and sells display advertising and media products on the firm’s behalf.

Realtor.com’s network includes MSN Real Estate — the sixth most popular site in April. MSN Real Estate gets for-sale listings from realtor.com and for-rent and new-home listings from Move.

Top 20 real estate websites, April 2014

Website Total visits Share of visits March rank
1. Zillow 62.6 million 17.39% 1
2. Trulia.com 32.8 million 9.10% 2
3. Realtor.com 28.5 million 7.91% 3
4. Yahoo! Homes 17.8 million 4.95% 4
5. Homes.com 9.3 million 2.58% 5
6. MSN Real Estate 7.3 million 2.04% 7
7. Apartment Guide 6.0 million 1.67% 6
8. Movoto 5.2 million 1.44% 14
9. Apartments.com 4.4 million 1.23% 13
10. Redfin 4.4 million 1.22% 10
11. Rent.com 4.1 million 1.15% 8
12. LoopNet 4.0 million 1.11% 12
13. Century 21 Real Estate 3.8 million 1.07% 16
14. ForRent.com 3.7 million 1.03% 15
15. HomeAway 3.7 million 1.02% 9
16. Re/Max 3.3 million 0.92% 18
17. ZipRealty 3.2 million 0.88% 17
18. HotPads 3.1 million 0.86% 19
19. HAR.com 2.9 million 0.82% 20
20. Hubzu 2.3 million 0.64% 22

Source: Experian Marketing Services

Overall desktop traffic to real estate sites totaled 360 million visits in April. That’s a drop of 19.3 percent from April 2013, a dip that could be attributable to the growing prevalence of mobile access among real estate site visitors. Zillow, for example, reports that more than 60 percent of the traffic coming to its site is now from mobile devices.

Movoto enters the top 10 

Movoto, a real estate brokerage and referral site with a model similar to Redfin’s, became one of the top 10 most popular real estate sites for the first time in April.

Founded in 2005, Movoto — the eighth most popular real estate site from desktop computers in April — was acquired by Japanese global human resources giant Recruit Holdings Company Ltd. last fall and has slowly grown its Web presence since, attracting 1.44 percent of desktop Web traffic in April, up from 1.04 percent in March and 1.01 percent in February.

“We think we can be the No. 1 online real estate service in the U.S.,” Recruit’s manager for U.S. operations Shiro Takeuchi told Inman News in February. Recruit operates SUUMO, a massive real estate portal in Japan that pulls in approximately $700 million in annual revenue.

Movoto, which has brokerage licenses in 37 U.S. states, appears to operate as a “paper brokerage” in at least some of the markets it does business. Movoto has a stable of “partner agents” it refers business to in exchange for a referral fee of 25 to 35 percent. It also has in-house agents.

Companies that join a multiple listing service to obtain access to its Internet Data Exchange listing feed, without demonstrably providing brokerage services by representing a buyer or a seller in a transaction, are sometimes described as paper brokerages.

Movoto’s founder and CEO Henry Shao says his firm is not a paper brokerage and that it maintains in-house agents in each market it does business.

However, in some markets the San Mateo, California-based firm doesn’t appear to have agents. In Austin, Texas, for example, Movoto surfaces 28 agents on its find-an-agent tool. None of them are labeled as Movoto agents. A search for agents on Movoto in Charlotte, North Carolina, yielded similar results: None of the 47 agents in that market were labeled as Movoto agents.

Redfin, which operates as a brokerage and referral site in 23 markets and operates exclusively as a referral site — and possibly as a “paper brokerage” — in at least three others, appears to operate similarly.

In Las Vegas, for example, Redfin had an IDX feed from the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors going back to 2010. It had been using that feed to refer business to its “partner agents” in the area until announcing it had put its own agents on the ground in late April.


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