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Move Inc.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to acquire Move, Inc. and all subsidiaries

News Corp has announced they will be acquiring Move, Inc. and all subsidiaries – what does this mean for the real estate industry?

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For a whopping $950 million in cash, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp will acquire Move, Inc. and all of their well known subsidiaries, including Realtor.com, ListHub, Top Producer and several others. The company says they will keep the staff and headquarters in San Jose, California and there are no rumors yet as to what Move brands will be dissolved or consolidated, if any.

The full press release from News Corp:

News Corp and Move, Inc. (“Move”) announced today that News Corp has agreed to acquire Move, a leading online real estate business that brings consumers and Realtors® together to facilitate the sale and rental of real estate in the United States.

REA Group Limited (“REA”), which is 61.6% owned by News Corp and is the operator of the leading Australian residential property website, realestate.com.au, plans to hold a 20% stake in Move with 80% held by News Corp.

Through realtor.com® and its mobile applications, Move displays more than 98% of all for-sale properties listed in the US, sourced directly from relationships with more than 800 Multiple Listing Services (“MLS”) across the country. As a result, Move has the most up-to-date and accurate for-sale listings of any online real estate company in America. The Move Network of websites, which also includes Move.com, reaches approximately 35 million people per month, who spend an average of 22 minutes each on its sites1.

Move’s content advantage makes it well positioned to capitalize on the fast-growing US online real estate sector and the world’s largest residential real estate market. More than five million homes in the United States are bought and sold each year, representing more than $1 trillion in annual transaction volume. Agents and brokers are expected to spend approximately $14 billion in 2014 marketing homes (up from approximately $11 billion in 2012), and an additional $11 billion will be spent by mortgage providers2.

Under the acquisition agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of Move, News Corp will acquire all the outstanding shares of Move for $21 per share, or approximately $950 million (net of Move’s existing cash balance), via an all-cash tender offer. This represents a premium of 37% over Move’s closing stock price on September 29, 2014. REA’s share will be acquired for approximately US$200 million. News Corp intends to commence a tender offer for all of the shares of common stock of Move within 10 business days, followed by a merger to acquire any untendered shares.

“This acquisition will accelerate News Corp’s digital and global expansion and contribute to the transformation of our company, making online real estate a powerful pillar of our portfolio,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp. “We intend to use our media platforms and compelling content to turbo-charge traffic growth and create the most successful real estate website in the US. We are building on our existing real estate expertise and expect to leverage the potential of Move and its valuable connections with Realtors® and consumers around the country.”

“In addition to boosting Move’s subscription, advertising and software services, this acquisition will give News Corp a significant marketing platform for our media assets, which will benefit from the high-quality geographic data generated by real estate searches,” said Mr. Thomson. “We certainly expect this deal to amount to far more than the sum of the parts.”

“News Corp’s acquisition of Move speaks powerfully to the quality and value of our content, audience and industry relationships,” said Steve Berkowitz, Chief Executive Officer of Move. “We provide people with the information, tools and professional expertise they need to make the best and most informed real estate decisions, and we work to uphold the indispensable role of the professional in the real estate experience. News Corp shares our vision, which is one of the many reasons this combination is such good news for our customers, consumers and the industry as a whole.”

REA Group Chief Executive Tracey Fellows said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for REA Group to invest in a leading player in the largest real estate market in the world. We see strong growth potential for Move, given the size of the US market, the significant proportion of real estate advertising yet to move online, and recent industry consolidation. We believe that our digital real estate know-how, combined with News Corp’s content, distribution and marketing strengths, will be a winning combination for Move and for our shareholders.”

Move has an exclusive, strategic relationship with the National Association of Realtors® (“NAR”), the largest trade organization in the United States, with more than one million members, and NAR has given its consent to the acquisition. Move is focused on providing high ROI for agents and benefits from their invaluable marketing support and high quality listings for vendors and potential purchasers.

“This partnership will help shape the future of real estate,” said National Association of Realtors® President Steve Brown. “News Corp’s ability to reach and engage consumers, combined with realtor.com®’s quality content and the real insights Realtors® provide will transform the current landscape. Working together, Realtors®, Move and News Corp will truly make home happen.”

Move owns ListHub, a digital platform that aggregates and syndicates MLS data to more than 130 online publishers, reaching approximately 900 websites.

The Move audience is highly engaged and transaction ready; over 90% of page views on their websites are on ‘for sale’ properties,3 helping generate the highest conversion rate of qualified leads in the industry4. The connection between agents and customers is strengthened by robust web and mobile-based customer-relationship management offerings to help facilitate transactions. Approximately 60% of traffic for Move websites comes from mobile devices.

For the year ended December 31, 2013, Move reported $227 million in revenues, and $29 million in adjusted EBITDA5, and generated the highest revenue per unique user in the industry.

Move will become an operating business of News Corp and remain headquartered in San Jose, California. The company, started in 1993, has 913 employees.

Some of the expected key benefits of the transaction include:

Broadened reach for Move through News Corp’s robust platform including WSJ Digital Network (approximately 500 million average monthly page views6) and News America Marketing (nearly 74 million households)
Increased sales and marketing support to drive higher brand awareness and traffic
Cross-platform promotion and audience monetization expertise
Leverage of News Corp’s and REA’s real estate and digital expertise to drive improved product innovation, consumer engagement and audience growth
Boost traffic and digital dwell times with high quality News Corp content
###

In addition to its leading position in Australia, REA’s operations and investments include leading online real estate websites in Italy (casa.it) and Luxembourg (atHome.lu) with presence also in regional France. In Asia, REA operates MyFun.com for the Chinese market and squarefoot.com.hk in Hong Kong and recently acquired a 17.22% stake in iProperty, the leading online real estate advertising business across South East Asia.

Along with its connection to REA, News Corp also has substantial expertise in real estate via its newspaper holdings, including The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. In 2012, the Journal began publishing Mansion, a successful global luxury real estate section, under the leadership of Mr. Thomson, who was then the Journal’s Managing Editor. News Corp’s UK publications also provide readers with online access to home and apartment listings throughout Great Britain. The Times of London’s lucrative Bricks & Mortar section was also commissioned and overseen by Mr. Thomson while he was Editor of that publication.

“We have great faith in America’s potential and the long-term asset value of housing, which is continuing its recovery and has yet to regain its full potency,” said Mr. Thomson. “It is forecast that the number of Millennial households will increase from 13.3 million in 2013 to 21.6 million in 2018, and they will spend more than $2 trillion on home purchases and rent by 20187. Many will begin their search online and use tools and content on realtor.com®. Buying a home is the most important investment decision any family will make.”

The acquisition is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and a minimum tender of at least a majority of the outstanding Move shares, and is expected to close by the end of calendar year 2014.

Advisors on the transaction include Goldman Sachs, as financial advisor, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP, as legal advisor, for News Corp and Morgan Stanley, as financial advisor, and Cooley LLP, as legal advisor, for Move.

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Move Inc.

News Corp performing well, led by 35% growth at Move, Inc.

More buyers will use the Internet than agents and even the home buyers using agents still use the Internet to supplement their home search. As the old saying goes, “It’s good to be king.” And right now, News Corp finds itself in the enviable position of being “the world’s largest player” in online real estate.

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More buyers will use the Internet than agents and even the home buyers using agents still use the Internet to supplement their home search.

As the old saying goes, “It’s good to be king.” And right now, News Corp, which in November 2014 purchased  Move Inc., which in turn operates Realtor.com for the National Association of Realtors, finds itself in the enviable position of being “the world’s largest player” in online real estate.

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Internet use on the increase

Lest you think online real estate is some pseudo term that looks impressive on paper but nothing in real life than think again. According to the National Association of Realtors, “nearly 74% of home buyers polled answered that they would use the Internet as part of their home search.” Think about the significance of this in terms of growth: More buyers will use the Internet than agents and even the home buyers using agents still use the Internet to supplement their home search. NAR points out further that “while online real estate research sites have not put real estate agents out of business, they have taken viewers away from the old traditional sources of information.”

This increased use of the internet as a real estate tool has fueled the growth of Realtor.com and as a result explains an article in businesswire.com, “News Corp is evolving rapidly into a more digital and increasingly global company with a diverse revenue mix that will drive long-term growth in profits and shareholder returns.”

News Corp Chief Executive Officer Robert Thomson proudly remarked that “The Company is, by most measures, the world’s largest player in digital real estate, a position certainly enhanced by the rapid growth in the U.S. of realtor.com.”

To the victor goes the spoils

News Corp said that the growth was driven by 57% growth in mobile users. News Corp also said that Realtor.com’s traffic accelerated in January to 50 million monthly unique users, or 34% growth year-over-year.

More specifically, in the second quarter, Move’s revenues increased 35% on a stand-alone basis to $87 million from $65 million in the prior year.

Not only that, based on Move’s internal data, average monthly unique users of realtor.com’s web and mobile sites for the quarter grew 37% year-over-year to approximately 39 million, which was driven by 57% growth in mobile users. Further, traffic accelerated in January to 50 million monthly unique users, or 34% growth year-over-year.

Coulda been a contender

Depending on which side of the river you want to water your horse, Zillow (which has been Realtor.com’s main competition for like, ever) claims that it actually represents more than 70% market share of all mobile-exclusive visitors to the real estate category. This despite a July 2015 report from Barclay’s that states Zillow is experiencing slow traffic growth due to a “function of audience saturation and new competition.

Comparatively, recent comScore data also showed that Realtor.com’s traffic in June 2015 surpassed Trulia’s traffic for the first time in two years.

Superficially it seems like tit-for-tat, but the truth is, competition is good for the real estate marketplace and for the time being, realtor.com is wearing the crown.

#OnlineRealEstate

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Move Inc.

For the first time ever, realtor.com will pipe in third party real estate agent ratings and reviews

Realtor ratings is a hot button issue, but NAR has set standards, and realtor.com announces how they’re meeting, perhaps exceeding those standards.

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social media cta

Finding an agent is a big challenge for consumers, and offering some semblance of accuracy in ratings and reviews is a tremendous challenge for real estate search sites – a challenge that has a long, convoluted history. Today, realtor.com is announcing their next move, confident that they’re appealing to both consumers and industry insiders, in yet another push to assert the superiority of their offering.

They’ve inked agreements to integrate content from Quality Service Certification, Inc. (QSC), RealSatisfied, and Testimonial Tree to agent profiles on realtor.com®, becoming the first online real estate website to offer a consolidated view of reliable information for consumers researching potential agents online.

Adhering to stringent policies

The information will appear on realtor.com’s revamped agent profiles and ratings and reviews system, offering very specific data. In fact, they’re the first to base these standards on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) guidelines for professional evaluation, established last year. The ultimate goal is to insure that ratings and reviews are by clients who have closed a transaction with a particular Realtor only – they say they’re the only real estate search portal to offer this.

One source tells us that the realtor.com policies were so stringent, that it was actually a struggle to find any vendors that met their standards.

Separately, the system allows a recommendation section which can be provided by colleagues, friends, and so forth. In a statement, realtor.com states, “The combined system provides a standard for transaction-based information while allowing all agents to showcase their professionalism.”

The industry has demanded a solution

“Buyers and sellers of homes rely on an agent with one of the biggest investments in their lives, and they spend inordinate amounts of time doing their due diligence to select someone they can feel confident about,” said Tapan Bhat, chief product officer at Move. “It’s important for them to have a resource they can trust – one that offers consistent quantifiable metrics around an agent’s performance and that provides a clear and reliable portrayal of the qualitative aspects as well.”

“Brokers and agents have consistently communicated that they want and need a solution that allows them to easily syndicate the ratings and recommendations they collect as part of their customer satisfaction programs,” said Jeff Turner, president of RealSatisfied. “From the very beginning, realtor.com® has supported this notion and their decision to continue to support this as part of their new platform is a testament to their forward-thinking approach to agent performance evaluation data. We are proud to be a part of this solution.”

Leveraging the abundance of data

In a press release, the company notes, “Leveraging the abundance of reliable data collected by trusted affiliates while carefully managing the integrity of the new solution was no small challenge. The integration of third-party, transaction-based ratings and reviews content into the realtor.com® system is made possible by matching the external data to the criteria established by realtor.com® for display where possible.”

QSC has decades of experience as a proactive performance management platform that helps brokers spot agent performance issues early. Realtor.com calls the affiliation a “natural fit,” having over 1.5 million surveys in the field to date – today more than 95 percent of buyers and sellers are ‘satisfied or very satisfied’ with agents participating in QSC’s program, including 84 percent that are very satisfied, compared to a national average of approximately 58 percent.

“QSC was the first to offer consumers reliable information to make better, more informed decisions by collecting feedback only from real customers and after every closed transaction,” said Kevin Romito, president and COO of QSC. “Through this agreement, realtor.com® will provide millions of consumers access to a level of accuracy and transparency not available anywhere else, and for participating brokers and agents, this will be a powerful differentiator and competitive advantage.”

Realtor.com®’s recent agreement with Testimonial Tree will enable testimonials collected by real estate professionals to be integrated within recommendations at realtor.com®, and adds a social element to agents’ profiles.

R.com expects this to increase leads for agents

As credible and reliable content makes its way onto the realtor.com® profile platform over the coming months from these partners and through realtor.com®’s built-in evaluation system, the company expects to see a boost in traffic, engagement and high quality leads for agents.

“The resulting virtuous circle of visibility, combined with the reliability of the content we are gathering, fulfills our vision for this solution: to meet the needs of the consumer for a trustworthy resource while addressing the complexities of the industry which we are uniquely positioned to understand,” said Bhat. “We are delivering a solution that works – not just today, but for the years ahead.”

STORY UPDATE: It is important to note that Real Satisfied and Testimonial Tree are feeding the recommendations section, and QSC is feeding the ratings and reviews.

#RealtorRatings

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Move Inc.

Have you seen realtor.com’s aggressively anti-Zillow ad campaign?

For years, real estate listings sites have fought about who’s more accurate, but realtor.com is taking the fight to consumers to help them understand the urgency of data accuracy.

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While many brands allude gently to their competitors, or simply call themselves the best, realtor.com is going for their competitor’s jugular, tapping into the real estate industry’s concern regarding listing accuracy, presenting it to consumers in a visually meaningful way.

Today, the company wrapped a real home for sale in Austin, Texas, leaving a giant blank spot on the block, asserting that if you only search Zillow, you may be missing out on y our dream home. The experential ad is part of a broader, ballsy campaign wherein realtor.com appears hellbent to finally illustrate the value of accuracy in listing data.

realtor.com

Drawing attention to accuracy

Realtor.com says that their campaign is based on statistical analysis from October, which estimates that they have 20 percent more MLS-listed for-sale homes than Zillow. They note that the gap is much bigger in some markets than others.

To further illustrate their “listings advantage,” they’ve offered some data to back up their claims:

MSAs

“Buying a home is one of the biggest commitments many of us will ever make, so it’s not a decision we enter into lightly,” said Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer for realtor.com®. “This advertising campaign draws attention to the fact that, unlike our competitors, realtor.com® provides the most comprehensive view of MLS-listed, for-sale homes.”

Digital and static ads will also run

The home will remain wrapped through Saturday, and they’ll also be running these digital ads:

rdc-ads

In addition to the digital ads, static ads on major sites and platforms from Google and Curbed to Spotify and Twitter. The ads feature headlines such as:

  1. “There are more homes for sale than Zillow’s showing you. Realtor.com® – search more homes for sale”
  2. “If you’re looking to buy your perfect home, Zillow might not have it. Realtor.com® – search more homes for sale”
  3. “More homes on realtor.com® means more homes that could be yours. Realtor.com® – search more homes for sale”

If you thought changing their logo to red was aggressive, we’re betting this is yet another move away from the soft, friendly brand. Under new ownership, they’re clearly serious about connecting with consumers and planting their flag.

#realtordotcom

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