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Struggling Realtors equal a thriving Trulia, but for how long?

Private company stock trading startup, SecondMarket today named real estate search site among the “fastest growing” in “buyer interest” alongsize Pandora, Groupon and ZipCar.

Pete Flint, CEO and co-founder of Trulia said, “We have built and scaled highly effective local advertising products around a large, highly sought after audience. Our ability to efficiently grow while home sales and home prices remain depressed, gives us great confidence around the long term success and growth prospects of our model.”

Trulia says they have experienced over 50% growth year over year and a doubling of revenues and is the only real estate company among the “fastest growing in buyer interest.” While SecondMarket is an alternative assets site and not trading in the same volume as the traditional stock market, it’s an interesting metric to look at.

Trulia says that despite the suffering economy, they’re doing well as Realtor interest rises, but one could argue that it is precisely because of the suffering economy that they are performing well as agents grasp at any tatic possible to stay afloat, throwing small bills at any and all sites that hint at a chance of success.

Does this SecondMarket report spell long term growth for Trulia as they’ve outlined on their website and does Trulia really improve the chances of getting a home sold, or does it really note that a struggling real estate sector is the exact reason for the growth of the site and highlights a potential long term weakness when the economy recovers?

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Ruthmarie Hicks

    October 12, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    I feel sorry for ANY agent dumb enough to pay Trulia so much as a thin dime. I used Trulia Voices for a while – waste of time. I posted to a Trulia blog for a while – waste of time. My own blog actually got more pageviews for my recent listing than Trulia for the last two months. So I’m baffled as to how this translates into helping a home get sold.

    • Aaron Catt

      October 13, 2010 at 11:20 am

      Keep your pity. I’ve been only moderately involved with Trulia both paid and unpaid.

      To date, I can say that it has accounted for 3 closed transactions and a handful of good leads. I’ve been active on it for about 1.5 years or so and to have grossed a little over 6k just from that.

      It’s never helped directly sell a listing from what I can gather, but it certainly has been a small boost to the business, which translates in to more operating funds and marketing funds; both of which certainly play a large part of getting more homes sold.

      I don’t think Trulia is for everyone. If you’re blogging and trying to create an online presence, why wouldn’t you fish where the fish are?

      • Brianna

        October 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm

        “It’s never helped directly sell a listing” This is true of many social media/online sites. So many people think that an online presence sells homes but thats not true, it helps generate leads and start relationships. Your experience, customer service, knowledge and personality sell homes. Another good point in your post is that you mention you’ve been on Trulia for 1.5 years. An online presence takes a while to cultivate, its overnight. Great comment! I’m glad Trulia is working out for you.


    October 12, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Trulia kinda sucks. All they want is to sell agents advertising crap and make a boat load of cash off us. I was a “pro” for a year and it got me nothing. I don’t pay now, but my listings are still on there through ListHub. Free is better 😉

  3. Jeff Belonger

    October 13, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Lani… good article… those that know me know that I am not a fan of Trulia, especially their Q & A forum, section. I think this section is misused and abused and they have to know this… by allowing anyone answer any question, no matter what industry you are in, only helps those people answering the questions… yet could hurt anyone truly looking for the correct answers. But Trulia understands by allowing everyone and anyone.. and awarding those with ribbons and such, makes their site more viral… but at whose cost?

    You hit the nail on the head with this statement… ” because of the suffering economy that they are performing well as agents grasp at any tatic possible to stay afloat, throwing small bills at any and all sites that hint at a chance of success.”

    Yes, people will grasp at anything, especially when free… like their Q & A section.. and to pay for some of their stuff, from what I have heard, is not as good as it leads to be… In any case, good post and this should be thought provoking… Jeff


    October 13, 2010 at 5:14 am

    i have a good friend who, up til recently, worked at trulia and he said it’s utterly horrible there. the data is outdated or outright wrong, and whats worse is they dont’ care b/c it is all about driving traffic to the site and increasing their sales. sigh. capitalism at its best.

  5. Jeff Belonger

    October 13, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Lani.. that was my point that I was driving at…. The same point that Herman stated, below me… That it just seems that they want to drive as much traffic as possible, not matter if the information is good or bad… hence my anger about their Q & A section.. and that part irks the hell out of me… because what does that show then?

  6. Marty Hunt

    October 13, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I’m surprised to see the negative comments about Trulia. Like any other thing we can spend our money on, Trulia is an option if we choose to use their advertising platform. If we don’t like it, we don’t have to pay for it (unlike…).

    While I question why Realtors need ANY third parties (Trulia, Zillow,, etc.) to advertise our listings online when there are one million+ Realtors with web sites and IDX, hundreds of thousands of real estate brokerage sites, and of course our State and local Associations and about 900 MLS’s, I can tell you that the consumers like Trulia A LOT.

    Personally I would prefer that our Associations and MLS’s would have lead the way to putting our listings online many years ago instead of waiting for Zilow, Trulia, and Yahoo! With the real estate industry being the mess it is today, Trulia is one of the better third party sites out there. Sure they have some inaccurate information (homes that are under contract or sold, for example) and of course they get only the listings they are authorized to get so the data is not complete. But remember when we placed monthly newspaper ads and some of our listings sold before the magazine hit the street? We were advertising properties that were no longer for sale and it was to “get the phone to ring”. I suggest the purpose of advertising is still to find interested buyers and sellers, albeit online and the data should be up to date.

    Like any other third party (Zillow,, etc.) Trulia came in and monetized our intellectual work product, our listings. If Realtors were indeed “The Voice for Real Estate” as NAR’s slogan proclaims, we wouldn’t have needed these third parties to come in and sell us advertising using our listings as bait.

    I pay for results. As an individual agent, I spend almost $5000 a year on products with LITTLE results but I feel the pressure to be there. I get almost NOTHING when it comes to inquiries, leads or sales from but it’s a great listing tool. I spend about $5000 a year between Trulia and Zillow and my inbox is filled with leads. I haven’t counted but it’s running something like 100 to 1 with leads from Trulia and Zillow over

    We all choose where we write our checks. I don’t mind the checks to Trulia and Zillow but the expense feels like a complete waste. I’m a fan of Trulia for what it is and for fillng a void left by Realtors who were (and still are?) paranoid to share the listing and sold data online.

    Marty Hunt
    Florida Home Team Realty

    • Ken Brand

      October 13, 2010 at 9:24 am

      I’m with you Marty. The idea that our Associations give these very smart 3rd party companies the bullets/ data they need to create an even better product than the Associations or their broker/agent members can (financial and intellectual limitations) or will (burning desire) offer.

      The 3rd party companies take the/our agent produced listing data and then use it to attract buyers and sellers away from Association and member web sites.

      Next, after they’ve used the agent/broker listing data to create a better mousetrap, they turn to the agent/broker (association members) and charge them/offer-an-opportunity to highlight their own listing data, given to the 3rd party companies by their Associations.

      I’m not knocking the 3rd party vendors, they’re smart and opportunistic, kudos to them. I’m disappointed in our Associations for empowering them, diminishing their/our role in providing true value (opportunities to attract buyer and seller prospects), and putting the agent (who actually does all the work to take the listing) in a spot where they now have to pay to enhance or benefit from their own work.

      Broker’s did the same bonehead move with Relocation, in mass, agreeing to pay always escalating referral fees to 3rd party companies, instead of telling them to jump in a lake, and meeting the needs of corporations themselves. But that’s a whole other story.

      Bottom line, our associations, apparently being slow, are becoming and behaving more like Share Croppers than Owners, Opportunists, Creators or Innovators.

      Nice article.

  7. Anna Altic

    October 13, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I have never paid Trulia a dime and have gotten a number of buyers from some blog posts I have put on there as well as the Q&A. I agree with some of the posts that the info is outdated at times and that some of the answers on the Q&A are outrageously bad or redundant. However, it’s been my experience that a well crafted, transparent, and useful blog or answer is well received in the forum and will pay dividends to the person who posted it. I am coming to understand that with Trulia’s awesome SEO and brand awareness that in the Q&A is not about “capturing” the person that originally asked the question, it’s about putting out quality information that will be found by others over time. That has indeed been my experience.

    I will say this. I don’t think the economy is the danger to Trulia. The danger to me is if it get’s bogged down with a bunch of worthless information posted by people who have invested no time in understanding social networking. Many in the comments are saying this is already happening. If the consumers have to spend time wading through crap then they will go somewhere else and it’s game over.

    • Aaron Catt

      October 13, 2010 at 11:25 am

      Very good comment!

      You’ve captured, to a large degree, my same thoughts and success.

  8. markbrian

    October 13, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I see Trulia and any other website like it as both competition and a necessary evil. It is competition for web traffic versus my website and evil because of the Q&A section, incorrect listing info and their business model of charging for what was, in my opinion, very dismal results.

  9. Rudy

    October 13, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Hi guys!

    In a down market or not, a company like ours offers real estate pro’s, buyers, sellers and renters another way to connect with each other. Those that take advantage of our site, give themselves an opportunity to grow their business. Some grow their business for free by being proactive on Trulia Voices while other use our enhanced features.

    For those that knock some of the conversations on Voices, well, I can only suggest that you do better. When you do better and offer advice that’s a higher level of quality than the next guy, guess who will notice – the consumer…..they are quite savvy. And that’s how some folks are getting noticed by consumers – by helping folks as best they can and not worrying what the next guy says…

    Good luck to all….


    Rudy from Trulia

    • Bruce Lemieux

      October 13, 2010 at 2:09 pm

      Agree – most consumers can sort through the knuckleheads on Trulia Voices. On balance, I believe Trulia Voices is a good way for consumers to reach out for help.

      I really hope you guys can get MLS-sourced listing data with the Move/NAR syndication agreement. Doing so would clean up your listing data make you a real value-add to home buyers.

  10. Intown Elite

    October 13, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Trulia truly is the wild, wild west, where anything goes. It’s a place where rogue agents can go to put on a facade of legitimacy in front of an unsuspecting public. One of the most despicable practices is that Trulia allows any agent to claim any listing as their own. Unscrupulous agents know that if a listing hasn’t been “claimed” on Trulia fairly soon after it was listed, most likely the listing agent doesn’t participate in Trulia, so they are safe to claim it as their own. There’s no cyber-police (or state Real Estate Commission) on Trulia. So these unethical agents appear to Joe Public as top-producers, complete with a huge inventory of listings. Sham! For those of you who don’t use Trulia, go check it out to make sure your listings “claimed” by one of these deceitful agents.

  11. BawldGuy

    October 13, 2010 at 11:44 am

    As usual, Lani, your question produces solid responses.

    I agree with Marty and Ken.

    Also, in the end, Trulia will be graded by results. This isn’t an epiphany, but it seems they must be doing something right, as some fairly successful agents are makin’ some hay there.

  12. Anthony Rueda

    October 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I’ve used Trulia and found it to be cost effective. Trulia’s listings and blogging does generate leads at a reasonable price.

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