Feeding on speculation that the acquisition of realtor.com operator Move Inc. by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp could ultimately diminish the National Association of Realtors’ influence over the site, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff tells Mad Money’s Jim Cramer that realtor.com is now “rupert.com.”
“I think what it means is realtor.com is no longer the Realtor’s website,” Rascoff says. “And I think the real estate industry will now realize that it’s rupert.com, and that makes them more likely to want to partner directly with Zillow, based on the size of our traffic and our business model, and I think that’s good for us.”
Others have said that having News Corp behind realtor.com could help the site remain competitive as Zillow moves toward completing its planned acquisition of Trulia some time next year. Realtor.com is the third-most visited real estate portal, behind Zillow and Trulia.
That seems to have been NAR’s thinking in not standing in the way of News Corp’s deal to acquire Move, which is expected to close by the end of the year. NAR has trademarked the term “Realtor” and owns the realtor.com domain. It allows Move to operate realtor.com under the terms of a 1996 operating agreement.
An Inman News poll shows readers are evenly divided on the wisdom of letting Move run realtor.com under News Corp.
Rascoff tells Cramer that Zillow considered “buying realtor.com,” but ended up doing the deal with Trulia instead.
“It’s very difficult to turn around a struggling brand online,” he says. “Once audience starts to climb … it’s very hard to turn around.”
Trulia, Rascoff says, “is a brand on the ascendancy.”