Following a tough 2020 performance, News Corp. (NYSE: NWS, NWSA), the media conglomerate behind book publishing assets and newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, has bounced back thanks to stellar revenue growth in its digital real estate services division, which includes realtor.com and Australia-based REA Group.
Digital real estate services revenue increased 34 percent year over year to $351 million, according to the company’s third-quarter earnings results, which ended March 31. The total segment EBITDA increased 58 percent from $73 million in Q3 2020 to $117 million in Q3 2021.
News Corp. Chief Executive Officer Robert Thomson credited realtor.com parent company, Move. Inc., with the rebound, which he said placed the company on “a trajectory to be the most profitable since our reincarnation in 2013.”
Move’s revenues in the quarter increased 37 percent year over year to $162 million due to robust growth in its real estate lead generation service, Opcity, which yielded a 40 percent increase in average monthly lead volume. The red-hot housing market also led to strong growth with realtor.com’s referral program, ReadyConnect Concierge, which accounted for 25 percent of Move’s revenue during Q3 2021.
In addition to increased lead generation and referral activity, News Corp. said realtor.com’s average monthly unique users surged 44 percent annually to 98 million, with a record-breaking 108 million unique users in March.
“The results vindicate the strategy of simplifying the asset mix, vigorously pursuing digitization, slimming the cost base, and investing in three growth areas — Digital Real Estate Services, Dow Jones and Book Publishing — which collectively generated 55 percent Segment EBITDA growth in the third quarter,” Thomson added. “Move, operator of realtor.com, flourished with more than 100 million unique users in March, a 60 percent increase on a year earlier.”
After the conclusion of the company’s earnings call, realtor.com CEO David Doctorow published a lengthy blog post about the company’s 2021 growth plan, which hinges on continuing to release new features and tools for consumers, real estate agents and brokers.
“Realtor.com is focused on building confidence for consumers, agents and brokers. We believe that requires providing transparency, offering support, presenting options and empowering people to make the choices that are right for them,” Doctorow said. “We’re building an open marketplace where we bring together a range of the best service providers who can collectively provide choices and help us offer a more innovative experience to deliver that experience.”
The CEO specifically pointed to realtor.com’s updated automated valuation model (AVM), the inclusion of flood risk information from FEMA, and the rollout of the Seller’s Marketplace, which helps homesellers do a side-by-side comparison of a traditional sale with a listing agent or a deal with an iBuyer.
“The differences between Realtor.com and our competitors have never been greater. We’re expanding consumer options instead of trying to constrain them into our own proprietary services under the veil of convenience,” he said, hinting at the platform’s longtime competition with Zillow. “We’re not flipping houses, and we don’t compete with agents and brokers; we work with them to develop solutions that work for their business.”
“There’s much more to come,” he added. “We will continue to create features and products to help make it easy and enjoyable for people who are buying or selling a home.”