CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article contained an error. Syndication discussions between Move Inc. and the National Association of Realtors were outside the scope of the amended Realtor.com operating agreement.
Realtor.com operator Move Inc. finalized a deal Monday to acquire Threewide Corp., operator of national listing syndication platform ListHub.
The acquisition comes on the heels of syndication discussions and an amended agreement between Move and the National Association of Realtors for the operation of the Realtor.com real estate portal.
"In addition to the discussions surrounding the operating agreement, NAR and Move discussed the benefits Move can deliver to real estate professionals, MLSs, and consumers by syndicating listing data content to third parties such as online portals, real estate listing sites and other designated destinations," Move Inc. announced in a Sept. 16 press release.
"As a result, Move received consent from NAR to syndicate listing data content in accordance with each data content provider’s (MLSs’ and brokers’) permission and instructions."
In the latest announcement, Move Inc. CEO Steve Berkowitz stated, "By acquiring Threewide and elevating the ListHub brand to a primary product offering at Move, we’ll combine Move’s core competencies of listing aggregation, relationship management and the delivery of effective marketing services with ListHub’s leadership in national syndication and market intelligence.
"Through our combined strengths, we’ll successfully aggregate and connect vast amounts of data from a variety of sources, ensure the data remains accurate and fresh, and standardize the market reports real estate professionals rely on to guide their online marketing efforts and demonstrate value to clients."
"This is not something that we decided to do in the last five days. It has been a strategic path for us for a long time," Berkowitz told Inman News.
The official launch of the service to Move customers will happen at a future date when data integration is worked out, he said.
Move’s acquisition of ListHub is the company’s first foray into listing syndication. The platform distributes 2.4 million property listings from more than 270 MLSs and 38,000 brokers to more than 70 real estate marketing websites.
Some of those 70 sites include Move competitors such as Zillow, Trulia, Yahoo and Google. While Move acknowledged that it will be sending listings data to competitors, the company said the deal was in the best interests of clients who want the broadest exposure for their listings.
MLSs that syndicate their listings data in bulk will offer their broker members the option to opt out of the service if they wish. For those that don’t syndicate in bulk, broker members will have the choice to opt-in to the service. If they decide to do so, they will not be able to pick and choose which listings to syndicate — yet.
"That’s certainly in product queue. It should be available shortly," said Luke Glass, formerly ListHub’s president and now its general manager and a vice president at Move.
Glass said the deal is "a big win for the brokerage community. (Move is) stepping up and saying, ‘We’re embracing syndication.’ It’s Move’s opportunity to embrace what brokers do on a day-to-day level," Glass said.
Berkowitz said, "In the end, the best experience for your consumers and advertisers wins. For Realtors, the more productive we can make them … (the more) we enhance the value chain, which will bring money from the offline world to the online world," Berkowitz said.
ListHub’s management team will remain in place, Move said.
Move’s expansion into syndication offers brokers greater exposure for their listings to major real estate portals, comprehensive performance reports to share with sellers, and listing content integrity throughout the syndication process, said Move spokesperson Julie Reynolds.
Under the acquisition, ListHub’s services will remain in place, as will its existing relationships with MLSs.
"In fact, now that ListHub is a member of the Move Network, we are in a position to grow and expand the list of ListHub partners, which would benefit both consumers and real estate professionals by expanding exposure of their listings," she said.
ListHub’s syndication services will remain free of charge, while performance reporting services will cost between $29 and $299 a month, depending on the size of the brokerage.
Move is currently in discussions with NAR’s Realtors Property Resource about whether Move will feed property listings data to that national database, Berkowitz said. RPR, which counts partnerships with about 100 MLSs representing about 265,000 Realtors, is expected to launch soon.
"It’s not totally out of the question. The key here is that the MLSs and the brokers are ultimately the ones who steer where the content goes," Berkowitz said.
The acquisition makes Threewide a wholly owned subsidiary of Move Sales Inc., a subsidiary of Move Inc.
The acquisition cost Move $13 million in cash and is expected to lower the company’s earnings by about one to two cents per share in 2011, Move announced. The transaction is expected to have a neutral impact on the company’s adjusted EBITDA (earnings from continuing operations before interest, taxes, stock-based compensation and charges, depreciation, amortization and other nonrecurring charges), the company said.