Market Leader buys and other bursts of online real estate energy

Market Leader has acquired the domain from IAC spin-off This, I think, is a good move in the context of their stated objective – a “click to close” software platform.

The domain is like one of those 18 year-old minor league phenoms who for whatever reason – injuries, attitude, bad luck – never quite fulfills his promise in the bigs. The history of this domain is too long to lay out here, but it’s a woulda-coulda-shoulda story.

I could be wrong, but I don’t expect to see Market Leader develop a full search/portal site on the domain. That’s brutally expensive and there’s plenty of that already. I suspect they’ll dust it off, polish it a bit and throw the traffic to customer sites they host. Something like HomeGain’s BuyerLink product back in the day.

Trulia hired a Chief Economist. I know: “me too,” right? Sure it is. But that doesn’t make it stupid. What Zillow demonstrated by hiring Stan Humphries and team and churning out a ton of research is that content, expertise and authority is a better and cheaper brand and marketing strategy than pitching press releases or buying Super Bowl ads.

I’m surprised it took Trulia so long. They lag trail both and Zillow in terms of consumer brand awareness, focusing (and doing quite well) on SEO instead. It’s time to play catch-up.

This also begs the question: why doesn’t a major real estate brand have a Chief Economist?

Well, you might say “It wouldn’t work. Consumers don’t trust them like they trust an independent media company.”

To which I would ask, “Must it be that way?”

Zillow cut a search deal with Curbed. A while back I suggested that there weren’t many more big real estate audiences out there for Zillow, and Trulia to partner with. Curbed was one of the last. It’s no AOL or Yahoo!, but they’ve managed to go both wide and deep with their network of local sites. A good move.

You know about this deal by now, but I want to comment on the LPS Real Estate Group management buyout, which produced Real Estate Digital. As a matter of disclosure, I will tell you that they are a 1000WATT Consulting client. As a matter of opinion wholly independent of that fact, I will tell you the team that made this happen is very smart. We like them. And we like their vision.

The break-off from LPS released a bit of energy into the online real estate world. More energy, more innovation, more action … it’s all good stuff!