Zillow has filed for a restraining order against real estate listing aggregator ListHub to try and stop a disruption in the flow of listing data to Trulia. ListHub revealed yesterday that it would cease to provide listing information to Trulia on February 26, terminating an agreement between the two companies that was originally slated to end in June 2016.
“News Corp’s decision is incredibly unfair to home sellers and their agents who depend on Trulia to market their listings,” Trulia President Paul Levine said in a statement emailed to GeekWire. “Today, we are taking the necessary steps to obtain a temporary restraining order to ensure that there’s no disruption to their marketing activities or businesses. We are hopeful the court will side on behalf of consumers and the agents, brokerages and MLSs who represent them, and grant this order.”
The whole fracas is the result of Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia, which closed earlier this week. ListHub is owned by Realtor.com operator Move, which was acquired by News Corp. last year. Zillow will lose listings from ListHub in April, after an agreement between the two firms expires. This move by ListHub isn’t exactly surprising – with the resources of News Corp, it can afford to end the agreement with Trulia, and cut it off from listings it would otherwise have and use to compete with Realtor.com.
ListHub is a provider of listings for both properties in the newly-formed Zillow Group. Zillow Spokesperson Katie Curnutte said last month that if ListHub had immediately pulled its listing data from Zillow, the company would lose “a couple hundred thousand” listings out of 3.6 million. Since then, Zillow has been pushing multiple listing services and real estate brokers to provide it with direct feeds of their listing information in order to make up for the shortfall.
Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff said in an interview with GeekWire earlier this week that moving away from ListHub has been a freeing experience for his company.
“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.”
Update: Move provided GeekWire with the following statement via email:
“What a difference two days make! On Wednesday, Spencer Rascoff was celebrating the ‘liberating moment’ when ‘we announced we were parting ways with News Corp,’ and how they ‘were really freed from the constraint of being reliant on a competitor for listings,’ listings he (inaccurately) described as ‘inferior.’ Today, they say that the ‘sudden’ loss of those listings is ‘an incredible hardship for agents and consumers.’ What hasn’t changed is that realtor.com remains the best place for agents to find leads and consumers to find homes.”
[Levine’s statement has been updated since this post was originally published.]