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Trulia press releases misleading consumers and investors?

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Real estate search site, Trulia.com has for the last ten months been less than truthful in their monthly price reduction reports as released on their site. In all monthly press releases distributed since Trulia began offering the ability to search by price reductions, they have claimed, “Trulia is the first and only national real estate site to provide consumers with the ability to use price reductions as a search filter.”

Our investigation shows that Better Homes & Gardens, Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Century 21 and Coldwell Banker’s national search portals do not offer a price reduction search parameter, so perhaps the statement that has been made ten times is partially true.

No, unfortunately, Trulia has been less than truthful, given that Zillow.com has offered the ability to search by price reductions since August of this year and Realtor.com has offered this feature since January of 2010. Popular IDX provider Diverse Solutions offers the ability to search by price reductions as well, so most anyone with a real estate website can offer this search parameter. In addition, individual Realtors have been able to report price reductions from their very own MLS since before the internet was conceived.

So why is Trulia fudging the details and trumping up reality?

On the heels of Trulia being named the only real estate company in the top five “fastest growing” in “buyer interest” according to alternative asset site SecondMarket.com, we began looking more closely at Trulia’s press releases. We noticed multiple questionable claims with the particular claim that they are the “only national real estate site to provide consumers with the ability to use price reductions as a search filter” immediately standing out. It could be sloppy PR, or it could be hype- either way, it’s inaccurate.

Trulia is threatened by the success of their competitors and according to Alexa.com, when compared to Zillow and Realtor.com, Trulia performs the worst in daily website reach, daily traffic rank, daily page views, bounce rate and time on site as outlined in the charts below, however traffic from search engines in part to their SEO gaming is doing well. Trulia is losing out to Zillow most likely because of the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace bringing in additional traffic and to Realtor.com due to their unmatched size and accuracy (not to mention name recognition and longevity).

Take a moment to review the site comparison below to see Trulia’s website performance against the other big two (Realtor.com and Zillow):

In a recent private study conducted by New Media Lab, Realtor.com ranked the highest in trust of data accuracy and usability when compared to Zillow and Trulia (although Trulia did rank highest for the aesthetics of their landing page).

The bottom line is that real estate search sites can have all the fancy tools and search paramaters possible, but accuracy not only in data (which even Zillow.com struggles with) but in press releases is critical. Home seekers, home sellers and Realtors place high importance on data accuracy and SecondMarket.com’s investors along with Trulia’s investors likely place high importance on the accuracy of how Trulia portrays itself.

Correction: original story noted Zillow’s price reduction search beginning in May. It has been updated to August although users have been able to see price history on individual listings since May 2010.

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Kye Grace

    October 26, 2010 at 1:28 am

    “although Trulia did rank highest for the aesthetics of their landing page” Thanks god it looks good…wait I already ranted about that last week didn’t I?

    Are we really surprised that within our space known for half truths conveyed as facts that this is happening? I know for one I was hoping brazen inaccurate claims only existed on bus benches ads still.

    Of course we all hold out a little hope that these ‘new kids on the block’ doing things so long overdue and how many of us see the industry needing to shift towards would not have a chink in the armour.

    Sadly the Real Estate space seems to overwhelm the best intentions and drag even those with the highest potential down to its lowest (and seemingly common) level.

    Sadly stooping to compete continues to be the first move when being outplayed in this business.

    Sheesh I am owly tonight 😉

    Full marks to the gang at New Media Labs for blowing the cover on this one!

    I better get out of here before I start to bemoan how a large RE marketing company turned Bar Camps into paid events that people are lining up for all over America. Weird.

  2. Benn Rosales

    October 26, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Interesting comparisons search engine results traffic to bounce rate at Trulia.

  3. Bruce Lemieux

    October 26, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Trulia surely is the master of RE SEO. I think that data quality will be even more important to consumers as they go mobile – which will be a bigger handicap for Trulia. R.com and Redfin have fantastic mobile apps with accurate, MLS-driven data. Trulia will never be able to match their mobile competitors with poor-quality syndicated data.

  4. Paula Henry

    October 26, 2010 at 8:47 am

    The real estate space is saturated with inaccuracies at many levels when it comes to searches and IDX. Bounce rate doesn’t surprise me, it’s a given when you index for addresses.

    Great data, Lani!

  5. Matt Kelly

    October 26, 2010 at 9:04 am

    It’s hype.

    Your references above are just a few of the examples of poor form at Trulia. Their PR Policy appears to be “Spin and Sensationalize” for the benefit of SEO. I’ve seen them spin articles others have written so badly out of context I’ve called them out on it myself.

    They remind me of the old saying “All smoke, no fire.” Trulia is not a company that I consider to be honest, accurate, or reliable.

  6. Rudy

    October 26, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Lani!

    We have gone back and updated all of our price reduction press releases from January 2010 to the present. When we introduced this report in June of 2009, we were the only ones able to provide this level of data and insights to the media. Since that time we have continued to roll out more data to help the media, the industry and consumers. Our data reports play a key role in helping consumers make better decisions and help the media in their daily reporting. It is not our PR Policy to mislead consumers, investors or the industry. It is our objective to release relevant data that can help buyers, sellers and renters at every step of their search process.

    Rudy from Trulia

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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