Technology

Judge keeps listings flowing to Trulia — for now

Court grants Zillow Group's petition for temporary restraining order

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Trulia Inc., the nation’s second-most popular real estate listing site, has been granted a temporary restraining order to keep receiving listings from rival-owned ListHub.

ListHub — which is owned by realtor.com operator Move Inc., a News Corp. subsidiary — announced Thursday that it had terminated its syndication agreement with Trulia in the wake of its acquisition by Zillow and would stop sending listings to Trulia on Feb. 26.

Zillow announced Friday that it had filed for a temporary restraining order in a bid to keep listings flowing to Trulia.

“The court’s order is a win for brokers, agents and the home sellers they represent,” said Paul Levine, president of Trulia, in a statement.

“Since News Corp. announced its decision on Friday to prematurely cut off the listing feed to Trulia, we’ve received an influx of calls from MLSs and brokers who were concerned that they and their clients wouldn’t be able to effectively market their listings ahead of the home shopping season.

“We’re very pleased with this preliminary decision, and hopeful the court will grant us the further time necessary to make this transition in an orderly way.”

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Trulia has filed a complaint against Move in San Francisco Superior Court, alleging breach of contract. The court will hold a hearing on March 12 to decide whether or not to compel Move to abide by the original June 19, 2016 termination date of its agreement with Trulia.

In a statement, Move Inc. said, “We look forward to another ‘liberating moment’ for Zillow on March 12, when we will have the opportunity to make our full case in court. In the meantime, we are happy to continue supplying the industry’s best data.”

The statement alludes to comments made by Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff last week referring to the April 7 expiration of the syndication agreement between Zillow and ListHub.

“When we announced that we were parting ways with News Corp. a couple months ago, we were really freed from the constraint from being reliant on a competitor for listings, a competitor whose incentive was obviously to continue to send Zillow inferior listings in order to advertise that their own website had higher-quality listings. That was a liberating moment,” Rascoff told investors on a Feb. 18 conference call.

To put that in context, however, Zillow gave ListHub a 90-day notice that it would not renew that agreement — not five business days. The short timeframe has caused headaches for some brokers in the past few days to scramble to find an alternative way to send their listings to Trulia.

Trulia receives listing data from ListHub that accounts for more than 25 percent of the uniquely accounted for listings on Trulia.com, attorneys for Trulia said in its complaint — a figure an analyst had pegged at 40 percent.

In arguing for the temporary restraining order, Trulia’s attorneys noted, “It has taken Trulia nine years to obtain 421 direct feed arrangements from franchises and brokers, and 125 from individual MLSs. By comparison, ListHub has arrangements with more than 500 MLSs.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.