Zillow buys listings syndicator Postlets

Techcrunch reports that Zillow has acquired Postlets, a syndicator of real estate listings.

This comes just a few months after Move, Inc’s acquisition of ListHub, a deal that upped the competitive ante between the leading online real estate sites. I likened this acquisition to Move “Cutting in” on the content/distribution dance between Trulia, Zillow and their industry listing partners.

It was a smart play by Move. And now Zillow has countered.

Postlets, while claiming 500,000 registered users, is to my knowledge a smaller syndication player and has struck me as more agent-focused than ListHub, which serves many large brokerage companies.

In any case, this is a significant move that underscores just how intense the battle to acquire, control, monetize and measure listing data truly is.

I have often likened this jostling match to the oil business, where producers have to perform a delicate political dance to get to the source of their profits then struggle with competitors over the pipelines that get the product to market. If that made no sense, Oil = Listings.

A few quick thoughts:

  • If I’m Trulia, right now I’m either pissed, happy that Zillow felt compelled to do something it surely did not want to do, or looking for my own pipeline to control (though Point2 has already been taken off the table).
  • This could be interpreted as indication that Zillow may be finding it increasingly ineffective to beg for opt-out MLS listings feeds, and is taking note of the increasing anti-syndication buzz among brokers. This deal may be an agent-direct hedge.
  • It will be interesting to see if Zillow makes the same commitments Move made to maintain impartiality in the reporting of syndication results – meaning, for example, that Trulia clicks/views will be reported just as clearly as traffic derived from sending listings to Zillow.

That’s it for now – more later. This is the hottest the battle for listings has been in a long, long time.

[Disclosure: Move, Inc. is a 1000WATT Consulting client]