Realtor.com revenue drops 6% as traffic growth remains flat


Realtor.com parent company Move Inc. saw its fiscal third-quarter revenue decrease 6 percent yearly to $132 million as traffic to the site stalls at 72 million average monthly unique visitors.

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Realtor.com parent company Move Inc. saw its fiscal third-quarter revenue decrease 6 percent yearly to $132 million, according to an earnings release issued Wednesday.

News Corp — which owns Move Inc. — said higher mortgage rates and other macroeconomic headwinds were responsible for the decline. Real estate revenues, which account for 80 percent of Move’s total revenue, declined 5 percent annually. Despite challenges in reversing its revenue woes, Realtor.com’s lead volume increased 4 percent year over year — the first annual increase in two years.

Realtor.com’s web and mobile traffic growth remained flat, with the portal drawing in 72 million average monthly unique visitors based on third-party data from Comscore.

Overall, News Corp’s digital real estate services segment had a strong performance, with revenues growing 7 percent annually to $388 million. The segment EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) increased 2 percent annually to $104 million due to increased marketing costs at Move and a negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations.

Unlike most U.S.-based companies, Australia-based News Corp uses a reporting method that ends the year on June 30. What most companies call their first quarter is referred to at News Corp as the third quarter.

In a prepared statement before the company’s earnings call, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said the quarter brought increased profitability as the company navigates “an exponential digital revolution.” Thomson did not highlight Move or the company’s other real estate companies.

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Robert Thomson

“News Corp has again made substantial progress on our strategic imperative to transform the company and increase value for all shareholders,” he said. “News Corp’s profitability rose slightly in the third quarter as compared to the prior year, continuing our growth this fiscal year — and that increase, which gathered pace in April, follows the three most profitable years since the company was reincarnated in 2013.”

“As mentioned previously, we have been reviewing our company’s structure — and that work is intense and ongoing — and we have made underlying changes to provide maximum flexibility,” he added.

Realtor.com has found itself locking horns with CoStar Group during the first months of the year, due to CoStar Group founder and CEO Andy Florance’s claims that Homes.com has usurped Realtor.com as the second-most trafficked residential portal in the U.S.

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Damian Eales

Move CEO Damian Eales has become more bullish in refuting CoStar Group’s traffic claims. Eales went from a light rebuke of the company’s traffic reporting methods at Inman Connect New York to a bold, full-on criticism at the National Association of Realtors midyear conference, where he accused CoStar Group of inflating Homes.com’s traffic data with data from the company’s 17 other sites.

“Homes.com is No. 4 and their audience is about one-fifth what they claim,” Eales said on Tuesday.

A CoStar Group spokesperson dismissed Eales’ claims as “defamatory” while clarifying the latest Homes.com traffic data of 156 million monthly unique visitors accounts for the Homes.com Network (i.e. Homes.com, the Apartments Network and the Land Network) — not all of CoStar’s 17 sites.

Outside of spats about traffic, Realtor.com has leaned into discourse about the National Association of Realtors’ settlement, saying the changes will ultimately benefit homebuyers and buyers’ agents. The company launched a nationwide advertising campaign in April breaking down the tasks buyers’ agents complete throughout a transaction — 111 to be exact.

“We are genuinely in this together,” Eales said at NAR’s midyear conference. “Realtor.com does not seek to disintermediate either the MLS or Realtors … We’re doing our best to lead from the front.”

Eales didn’t participate in the company’s Wednesday afternoon earnings call. However, Thomson backed the Move CEO in his confidence that the portal is uniquely situated to navigate a post-settlement world, due to its strong buy- and sell-side offerings, strategic partnership with Zillow, and strong traffic.

“Realtor.com’s unique users grew 5 percent month over month, comparing very favorably to Homes.com which experienced a decline in the same period,” he said. “Realtor.com is 1.4 times bigger in terms of monthly unique users and has approximately three times the pageviews and minutes per visit.”

Thomson said his claim is based on third-party data from Comscore and not internal traffic data from Google Analytics. Many portals use Comscore and Google Analytics for their traffic data; however, there are disputes about which platform is more accurate.

“In the wake of legal developments involving NAR, I would echo Move CEO Damian Eales’ recent perspicacious comments about the importance of buy-side agents for those seeking professional guidance when purchasing, which is surely the most significant investment decision for many families,” he said. “We continue to closely monitor industry developments, but believe Realtor.com is well positioned to capitalize on its relationship with homebuyers and buy and sell-side agents in this evolving landscape.”

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