Realtor.com operator Move Inc. is worth $950 million to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, but only if Move’s 1996 agreement with the National Association of Realtors to operate the website remains in force.
If NAR decides to terminate the agreement, the deal — announced this week and expected to close by the end of the year — is off.
NAR says News Corp’s acquisition of Move would be good for realtor.com, and that it won’t stand in the way.
News Corp says its understanding is that Move will continue to have “the exclusive and perpetual right” to operate realtor.com under the News Corp umbrella.
Inman News readers are evenly divided on NAR’s permissive stance — 43.1 percent say it was the right thing to do, because News Corp will bring more buyers and sellers to realtor.com.
But 44.4 percent fret that NAR will lose its grip on the site. Another 12.5 percent say they’ll wait and see what happens to realtor.com’s ad rates before passing judgment.
Was NAR wise to allow News Corp to acquire Move?
Whether you’ve got good, bad or indifferent feelings about the deal, it’s part of a larger trend that will have an affect on the average agent, says 1000watt’s Brian Boero:
“This deal, while big, is about companies that advertise homes, not sell them. And that may make you feel that this doesn’t really impact the agent on the street. And in the short term you’re probably right. But longer term, I think you’d be wrong.
“News Corp buying Move, or Zillow buying Trulia, may seem like the distant dealings of rich people peddling ad impressions to Realtors, but these things shape how consumers touch, interact with and evaluate our industry in the digital world.
“We have only just begun to see where that may lead us.”
Sam DeBord, managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, thinks that while News Corp knows how to drive eyeballs and generate revenue, NAR must keep a watchful eye out for changes to realtor.com.
“We need to keep our heads on a swivel to make sure the image, strategy and interaction with our Realtor membership is in line with expectations,” DeBord says. “That’s what we elect Realtor leadership to do.”