Zillow Trulia
This product image provided by real estate website operator Zillow shows the Zillow app on various mobile platforms. Zillow is buying competitor Trulia in a $3.5 billion all-stock deal. (AP Photo/Zillow)

Zillow, Trulia merger impact uncertain

It’s unclear how Zillow’s $3.5 billion all stock deal for competitor Trulia will impact local residential real estate agents — if at all.

In the news release announcing the merger earlier this week, Zillow CEO Spence Rascoff  said the deal would benefit customers and real estate agents.

“Consumers love using Zillow and Trulia to find vital information about homes and connect with the best local real estate professionals,” Rascoff said in the release. “Both companies have been enormously successful in creating compelling consumer brands and deep industry partnerships, but it’s still early days in the world of real estate advertising on mobile and Web.”

But Joseph T. “Jody” Landers III, a former vice president of the Greater Board of Baltimore Realtors who was hired by Baltimore to build a real estate database, said it was too early to tell what the impact will be. He said that he thought the deal makes sense because he doesn’t believe the market could support both of those websites.

“These companies started with the idea that you could kind of commoditize [real estate], and I just don’t think that real estate is able to be commoditized,” Landers said.

Landers did say that both websites, particularly Zillow, have done a good job drawing traffic. He agreed the websites sometimes create unreal expectations about pricing, but said past market performance has also distorted what customers expect.

“People still have the notion that their house is going to sell for a lot more because of the prices they were going for several years ago, and, you know, the market is what the market it is at any given time. So, yeah, I do think they contribute to that,” Landers said. “I think most people understand at some basic level that this is just ballpark estimate stuff.”

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