This report is available exclusively to subscribers of Inman Intel, a data and research arm of Inman offering deep insights and market intelligence on the business of residential real estate and proptech. Subscribe today.
Just days after an earnings report revealed that Realtor.com saw a significant annual decline in traffic at the beginning of the year, the company’s chief executive blamed the slower housing market and downplayed the importance of raw traffic numbers generally.
David Doctorow, CEO of Realtor.com parent Move Inc., said in a new interview that “traffic levels are certainly down across the industry” — a fact that’s “to be expected” given that there are currently fewer available listings.
The comments allude to the latest earnings report from News Corp, which owns Move and Realtor.com. The report shows that between January and March of this year, average monthly unique users to Realtor.com fell 24 percent year over year to 72 million.
Move’s revenue was down 17 percent year over year in the first quarter of 2023, the report additionally revealed.
However, in the interview, Doctorow said that Realtor.com’s focus isn’t maximizing traffic.
“Our focus as a company is not about trying to have the maximum traffic number,” he explained. “If that were our focus, we could do a lot of things to make that number larger. We’re focused on trying to get a higher quality audience that’s serious, because these are the people who will translate into active leads and help empower the growth of our customers.”
The comments come from an interview of Doctorow with Real Estate News, published Saturday.
In the interview, Doctorow also argued that Realtor.com’s engagement is better than its rivals, noting that “53 percent of consumers who come to our site are looking to be matched with an agent, that’s compared with 41 percent at Zillow.”
Realtor.com users tend to visit the site more frequently than is the case with rival portals, Doctorow went on to say.
For context, Zillow’s latest earnings report shows that the company had 212 million average monthly unique users during the first quarter of this year. That’s flat compared to one year earlier. Real Estate News additionally cites Zillow as saying that a direct comparison to Realtor.com doesn’t work because its traffic is so much larger, and that more than two-thirds of homebuyers use Zillow at some point.
Redfin’s most recent earnings report shows that it had 50 million average monthly users between January and March — down from 51 million a year ago.
Doctorow also weighed in on CoStar’s flirtation with a Realtor.com acquisition. News of the potential deal first surfaced in January, but by February, CoStar CEO Andy Florance said his company would not buy the portal. Instead, it would focus on building up the brands it already owns.
Doctorow said in the new interview that CoStar’s interest meant “they certainly were intrigued about something that was working.” CoStar is “a very credible competitor in our eyes, and one that we pay attention to,” he added.
But he also suggested Realtor.com isn’t looking to dive headlong into the portal wars that have enflamed a rivalry between Zillow and CoStar.
“Our focus is not on creating a narrative that sounds good, or is engaging, or is trying to bait a public dialogue,” Doctorow said, adding later that “we don’t believe this needs to be a winner-takes-all market. We do not have to take all of the dollars in the real estate transaction and the loan, the title, etc. There’s plenty to go around.”