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Today, online real estate listings giant Zillow announced that it'll acquire its largest competitor, Trulia, for $3.5 billion. Assuming the deal is approved by regulators, which is expected, two of the country's biggest real estate search sites—which reportedly control 61 percent of the market—will combine, creating a huge repository for online listings and property-value data.
What it all means:
Well, first off, if you're looking to buy an apartment, there's a very good chance you'll be using Zillow or a site that Zillow owns, at least in combination with other search sites. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Around this time last year, the Seattle-based Zillow made big headlines locally when it bought the New York listings portal StreetEasy. Since then, StreetEasy has had a facelift, with its website and app getting a total redesign, and the company dropped its paywall. So far, so good. (Meanwhile, Trulia has been trying to appeal to New York renters by trying to weed out duplicate listings on its site.)
But one concern with the Trulia deal is that it will dumb down one of the site's major selling points: its visualization of local data. Trulia's "heat maps" show environmental hazards, crime rates, local amenities, demographics and more in any given neighborhood—and in a more detailed way than Zillow's version. Still, Zillow's popular "Zestimates" feature, which gives a ballpark estimate of how much a property is worth, is likely to live on past the merger.
Readers, what do you think? Do you use Zillow, Trulia, StreetEasy or any combination of the above? Which one's your favorite?
Who is to be squeezed in a Zillow-Trulia merger? (Bloomberg)