In a release today, Trulia announced that they are buying Marketleader. As a result, Trulia has taken ownership of a brokerage. That means that they can compete with other online brokerages like Redfin, ZipRealty, Sawbuck, Movoto, and others. However, I do not think that is their strategy.
There is a persistant paradigm emerging in the portal business whereby these companies combine the portal with technology products and services offered to agents and brokers. Operating a portal that relies on ad spending alone does not seem to be sustainable for the type of growth and stable recurring revenue for investors. Advertising has, and always will be a volatile business. Offering deeper levels of products and services to agents is a classic cross-sell opportunity. Move was the first portal to recognize this strategy, and has a suite of products that begin with Top Producer and expand from there. Zillow has followed the same path with their acquisition strategy of DiverseSolutions. Homes.com offers HomesConnect for agnets and brokers and powers many of the largest franchise sites in America.
With Marketleader’s suite of products, Trulia can now provide agents with more leads, offer marketing on RealEstate.com, HouseValues, JustListed, as well as Trulia. They can move that buyer lead directly into agent websites backed by full contact management solution, drip marketing, and excellent market analytic reports. For sellers, they have a full marketing suite with flyers, postcards, virtual tours and of course – the ability to market that seller listing up through the portals – Trulia, realestate.com, etc.
One of the advantages that Marketleader has developed in the marketplace is training. They learned years ago that the way to retain agent customers is by making them better sales people. They train and motiviate sales associates everyday. They have excellent coaches that help agent understand how to navigate the treacherous waters of technology. They also have the most active professional social network with ActiveRain, a place where agents help other agents.
The Marketleader management and development team also brings significant industry experience to Trulia. Trulia has always excelled at being consumer centric, now they have deeper bench strength at being agnet-centric. This link on RE Technology provides a 360 degree overview of Marketleader – product list, product ratings, product reviews, company announcements, and other articles.
Here is the note from Trulia this morning announcing the purchase:
Earlier today, we announced that we have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Market Leader, one of the real estate industry’s most successful technology partners. We are very excited about the addition of Market Leader’s talented team to Trulia and the value this acquisition will help us bring to our partners and customers.
This acquisition is part of our ongoing effort to enhance our services and provide more value to our industry partners. As you may know, Market Leader was founded in 1999 and has become the premier provider of software services for the real estate industry.
We’ve been very impressed with Market Leader’s track record of supporting brokerages and franchisors by helping them deliver exceptional value to their agents. Together we will be able to deliver even more value as a technology partner and it is our goal to help you support the productivity of your agents, retain top performers, and recruit new agents.
We are thrilled about the opportunities ahead, and as always, we welcome your feedback.
Ginger Wilcox from Trulia. You nailed it when you said you don’t think becoming a brokerage is part of our strategy. Our goal is to be the best technology partner to the industry, not a brokerage and the acquisition of Market Leader doesn’t change this. Trulia’s core business is based on working in partnership with the industry. We’re excited about this acquisition because it will allow us to offer more value to our industry customers and partners. To that end, we know that RealEstate.com has been a controversial topic. We do not plan to operate it how it’s currently operated and we’re looking at how to use it in an industry friendly way once the deal closes.
How do you keep one entity from competing against another? How do I know that I am a customer of Market Leader and that my leads will not be diluteted due to other being under one roof? Thanks for your reply in advance.
Great question Lizzy. In truth, there is not much that they do that is competitive. RealEstate.com will likely be rebuilt. Having the domain name with the word real estate in it is a huge SEO benefit. I suspect that they plan to grow that site along side Trulia. Trulia Voices and Active Rain are somewhat competitive in terms of content – but I think that they can be complementary. Trulia sells advertising, Marketleader sells leads. Marketleader has great drip marketing and print marketing, and CRM that Trulia does not have – so I think that the acquisition will help them support agents at developing leads generated anywhere with those tools.
The biggest benefit to both companies are the teams. In one fell swoop, Trulia picked up a bunch of high quality staff that it would take years to develop. I wish them the best.