Trulia has hired Selma Hepp as its new chief economist, plucking an accomplished researcher from the Realtor establishment to produce newsworthy analysis and engage the media on the listing portal’s behalf.

Hepp served as a senior economist at the California Association of Realtors (CAR) until June, according to her LinkedIn profile. Before that, she was an economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

During her tenure at CAR and NAR, Hepp oversaw research and analysis of housing market and economic trends, surveys, and the impact of real estate-related regulatory and legislative policy, Trulia said in a statement.

Hepp will work to supply homebuyers with “key insights about the economy, housing trends and public policy,” Trulia said.

She fills a role that Jed Kolko, Trulia’s previous chief economist, vacated in February following Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia.

In a note announcing his departure, Kolko said that, even as part of the same parent company, his team at Trulia would remain “friendly rivals with Zillow.”

“They’ll continue to come up with research that will be different from Zillow’s and sometimes will kick their butts. (Yes, they know I wrote that),” he said.

Trulia spokeswoman Daisy Kong said that since the acquisition, “It was always the plan to maintain Trulia and Zillow as two separate consumer brands with two separate research teams under the leadership of two different chief economists.”

Kong added that, “Like Jed, we’re going to give Selma the same freedom to call it as she sees it and run as fast as she can.”

Chief economists employed by major online real estate companies, including realtor.com and Redfin, can generate considerable media exposure for their firms, feeding analysis to reporters and appearing on television news shows and at events

Email Teke Wiggin.

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