Technology

Keller Williams, NRT sticking with Market Leader — for now

Zillow Group announced sale of the CRM, marketing tools provider last week at a steep discount

Takeaways:

  • Keller Williams and NRT are still Market Leader clients.
  • Zillow Group sold Market Leader for just 6 percent of what Trulia paid for it two years ago.
  • Zillow Group and Trulia mined some of Market Leader’s value before selling.

Zillow Group is selling Market Leader for a massive discount, suggesting that the real estate software provider’s business has been gutted — but two of its huge enterprise clients are still on board: 125,000-agent Keller Williams Realty and the nation’s largest brokerage, NRT LLC.

Last week, Zillow Group announced an agreement to sell the customer relationship management and marketing software firm to Constellation Software for $23 million, less than a 15th of the $355 million Trulia paid for the firm just two years ago. The firms expect the sale to close early in the fourth quarter.

“Right now, we’re excited about Constellation Software’s commitment to invest in Market Leader,” said the Austin, Texas-based franchisor’s CEO, Chris Heller. “We’re looking forward to working with the new owners and continuing to provide Keller Williams associates with the tools to grow their businesses.”

NRT, which signed a multiyear deal with Market Leader in early 2014, also confirmed that it’s sticking with Market Leader through the acquisition.

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Over 100,000 real estate brokers and agents use Market Leader software, and the firm’s recent hot-potato history provokes questions about its future.

Keller Williams first baked Market Leader into its lead-to-close digital platform “eEdge” in 2011; the relationship received a refresh last fall with new website templates, marketing campaigns for buyers and sellers, and an email marketing tool.

The franchisor announced a deal with website provider Placester in August. The tech firm will provide responsive and SEO-optimized websites for its agents and local offices throughout the U.S. and Canada.

It’s not clear whether Keller Williams cut out the website portion of its Market Leader contract to accommodate the new deal with Placester.

Shrinking Market Leader value

Zillow Group inherited Market Leader in its February acquisition of Trulia. In August 2013, Trulia bought the firm for $355 million, an 18 percent premium to Market Leader’s stock market valuation in early May when the deal was first announced (Market Leader was a public company at the time).

“The Market Leader that is being sold isn’t the same company Trulia acquired in 2013,” Zillow spokeswoman Katie Curnutte said. “The Market Leader business has evolved significantly over the past few years, and some parts of the business have even been divested. The price that Market Leader is being sold for today is the fair market value of the company.”

In June, for example, Zillow Group sold the Market Leader subsidiaries ActiveRain and Kwkly to real estate entrepreneur Ben Kinney for an undisclosed sum.

The portal giant held on to other Market Leader assets, such as the realestate.com domain name, which Market Leader acquired for $8.25 million in 2011.

Zillow Group and Trulia have whittled down the firm’s employee count over the last two years.

When Zillow acquired Trulia in February, Trulia announced the layoff of hundreds of workers, many of them from Market Leader. A year before, it laid off 85 Market Leader employees and transitioned five execs, including former Market Leader CEO Ian Morris, into consulting roles.

Email Paul Hagey.