SAN FRANCISCO — Trulia will have less than a month to wean itself off real estate listing data from ListHub.
At a hearing in San Francisco Superior Court today, lawyers for ListHub parent Move Inc. and Trulia, recently acquired by Seattle-based Zillow, told a judge that the two companies will enter into a stipulated settlement that will require ListHub to provide a feed of listings to the Zillow Group (which includes Trulia) through April 7, putting an end to the legal wrangling over the information that began in February.
If that date sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same day Zillow will lose listing information from ListHub when a contract between those two entities expires. It’s not exactly a win for Trulia, which would have been entitled to the data for 16 more months under the company’s contract with ListHub, but it gives the home search site more time to figure out how to replace the data.
The settlement came after an almost two-hour-long hearing in front of Judge Ernest H. Goldsmith, who didn’t seem all that sympathetic to Trulia’s arguments. He was particularly unconvinced by Trulia’s arguments that ListHub provides unique data because it brings together information from a wide variety of brokers and multiple listing services.
“If anything’s not unique, it’s these listings,” Goldsmith said.
It’s possible that Zillow will provide a feed of listings to Trulia to replace at least some of what the company will lose as a result of ListHub cutting off its feed. Trulia’s attorneys said that it’s not clear whether Zillow would be able to leverage its own agreements with brokers and multiple listing services to share feeds of their listing information to Trulia. However, they haven’t specifically said that it would be impossible to share the feeds with Trulia, either.
Zillow has been pushing hard to get direct feeds ever since it announced that it wouldn’t renew its contract with ListHub. CEO Spencer Rascoff has said that doing so was “liberating” for his company earlier this year.
“When we announced that we were parting ways with News Corp. a couple months ago, we were really freed from the constraint of being reliant on a competitor for listings — a competitor whose incentive was to continue to send Zillow inferior listings in order to advertise that their own Web site had higher quality listings,” Rascoff said. “That was a liberating moment, and we have been fortunate in the last several months going and getting direct listings feeds from MLS after MLS.”
This whole fight began in mid-February, after Zillow acquired Trulia, when ListHub announced that it would be removing listing data from Trulia on February 26. After that, Zillow filed for an injunction to prevent ListHub from removing the data, and Goldsmith granted a temporary restraining order to maintain the data flow for Trulia until today’s hearing.
Losing the ListHub data is significant for Trulia. The company said in its complaint that information from ListHub makes up more than 25 percent of its listings, and Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley estimated that it makes up 40 percent of Trulia’s total listing information.
Update: A Zillow Group spokesperson gave GeekWire the following statement via email:
“We are working hard to ensure home sellers and their agents can easily continue to market homes on Trulia, which attracts one of the largest audiences of home buyers in the country, and we are having tremendous success signing contracts for direct MLS feeds. By the time ListHub stops sending listings to Trulia on April 7, we expect a small percentage of Trulia’s overall listing count to be affected.”
A representative for Move provided GeekWire with the following statement via email:
“We are extremely pleased and delighted with the court’s ruling. As part of ListHub’s commitment to the industry and home buyers and sellers, we have reached an agreement to continue to provide ListHub’s data feed to the Zillow Group (which includes Trulia) until April 7th, the day ListHub’s agreement ends with Zillow.”