Move Adds To A Real Estate M&A Trend

Investor's Business Daily

Online real estate information companies have been scrambling to add scale and services via acquisitions.

The most notable example by far is Zillow's (Z) pending takeover of chief rival Trulia (TRLA). But the latest deal comes from Move (MOVE), which operates the National Association of Realtors' website Realtor.com.

San Jose, Calif.-based Move announced Thursday that it has acquired the U.S. listing syndication service of Point2, based in Canada.

Since Move already owns ListHub, the largest real estate listings syndicator in the U.S., it effectively bought its chief rival. Point2 is the second largest syndicator. Move acquired ListHub in 2010.

Like the consumer websites Zillow and Trulia, Realtor.com provides listings of homes for sale and related information, and takes in advertising. They all use behind-the-scenes technology for getting listings from Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and property brokerages.

Home Listings Link

Move does more than just run Realtor.com and related websites. Through ListHub, Move offers data to many real estate Web companies, including Zillow and Trulia, says Luke Glass, executive vice president of industry platforms at Move.

"We build platforms for the industry," he said, "which is why we bought Point2 — our goal is to get as many listings" as possible.

He said Point2 brought ListHub 60 net new Multiple Listing Services, for a total of 592.

Realtor.com says it provides consumers with information from more than 800 Multiple Listing Services. ListHub does not supply content to Realtor.com because that website has a direct relationship with the NAR.

Move said in a Q2 report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission: "Over 27 million users (each month on average) have exposure to over 400,000 real estate professionals on Realtor.com and our mobile applications.

Zillow Makes Buys

Zillow has been the most acquisitive of the online real estate websites. Last August, it paid $50 million for New York City's popular property website StreetEasy. It also recently acquired Retsly Software, which helps behind the scenes to improve access to real estate data.

But Zillow's biggest M&A catch, if the pending purchase goes through, would be Trulia. In late July, Zillow announced plans to acquire Trulia in a stock deal valued at $3.5 billion. The deal is under review by the Federal Trade Commission.

Move's stock edged up fractionally Thursday. Zillow fell more than 1% and Trulia more than 2%; both stocks had lifted sharply after the merger was announced. Zillow holds an IBD Composite Rating of 87 out of a possible 99, Move an 84 and Trulia a 78.

Move said in its Q2 SEC filing that competitors have emerged or "intensified their focus on the real estate market." Those rivals include Classified Ventures (operator of HomeGain.com), Dominion Enterprises (operator of Homes.com), Google (GOOGL), Market Leader (operator of RealEstate.com and a Trulia unit), Redfin, Homefinder.com, ZipRealty (ZIPR), Trulia and Zillow (operator of the Yahoo-Zillow Real Estate Network).

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