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The CEO of News Corp said the company is committed to growing Realtor.com after its sale to CoStar fell through.
In remarks at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telcom Conference at March 7, CEO Robert Thomson says he has made it a “personal priority” to grow Realtor.com after a “flux in the real estate segment” got in the way of a potential deal with CoStar, according to a report by Real Estate News.
“We remain open and opportunistic,” he said. But “we have no intention of being the Miss Havisham of housing,” referring to the wealthy spinster from Great Expectations who insists on wearing her wedding dress decades after having been jilted at the altar.
Thomson said News Corp had no intention of parting with Realtor.com before they were approached about it.
“To be clear, we had no intention of selling Realtor, but we were courted and wooed with a significant sum,” he said.
CoStar acknowledged in January that it had been in talks to purchase the listings portal from News Corp for $3 billion. The move was seen as an attempt for the commercial real estate giant to challenge Zillow’s dominance, which it had been openly critical of in recent statements, and to further its foray into the residential real estate space.
The talks also came as it was revealed that News Corp took a hit during the final quarter of 2022, with revenue for MOVE, which operates Realtor.com, falling $14 million or 23 percent, driven by an overall slowdown in the real estate market due to high mortgage interest rates. News Corp announced plans to lay off approximately 1,250 people during the same earnings report.
During an earnings call in February, however, CoStar CEO Andy Florance revealed in a surprise announcement that CoStar would not be following through on the purchase after all.
“At this point, CoStar is not acquiring Realtor.com,” Florance said on the call, adding that “we continue to believe that the Homes.com business model and principles are well aligned with [National Association of Realtors] members and real estate agents generally.”
Realtor.com leases the trademarked Realtor name from the National Association of Realtors but operates completely independently of it.
During his March 7 remarks, Thomson said that News Corp’s United States media outlets, which include the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the New York Post would be used to promote Realtor.com moving forward.
“It shows how much we believe in the future of Realtor,” Thomson said.
David Doctorow, CEO of MOVE, said at the same event that the company’s focus has remained the same even as talks of new ownership have been in the air.
“We are confident in the course that we have laid out in front of us,” Doctorow said. “As we move forward, we will remain laser-focused on helping consumers feel confident by giving them personalized options and the power to choose them, and empowering the growth of customers by offering a choice of best-in-class solutions that meet their business needs.”
“Unlike our competitors who push their own products,” he added, “our open marketplace empowers consumers and customers with confidence by allowing them to choose the products and partners that are best for their real estate journey and business.”