Zillow and Trulia have announced their commitment to one another, as Zillow has entered into a “definitive agreement to acquire Trulia” for $3.5 billion in stock. Both companies will remain in tact as brands with Trulia CEO Pete Flint reporting to Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, and the deal is on target to close next year.
With this acquisition, two real estate search giants will remain (Zillow, realtor.com), and real estate professionals and industry insiders have mixed feelings on the topic (some believe this move will be bad for the real estate industry; others are enthusiastic about the change), but as the two names remain intact, Zillow would simply own Trulia, not necessarily swallow it. If the acquisition, agents’ advertising dollars will still go to two separate locations rather than just Zillow, because the world will not be absent a Trulia.
What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not the FTC will approve the acquisition, as both are publicly traded companies and require approval from the regulatory body. This merger is akin to all major telecom companies merging except for Sprint, leaving a world of only two large, nationally recognizable options – even if all stores still say “AT&T” or “Verizon” on the signs, in this theoretical example, they’re all still owned by AT&T, so there are only two competitors. The FTC doesn’t always like it when there are only two competitors controlling a market.
In addition, according to Inman News, the National Association of Realtors reportedly wants federal antitrust regulators to block Zillow’s planned acquisition of Trulia, and as of press time, the Federal Trade Commission had yet to respond to NAR’s request. The FTC declined to comment, noting the only public information about mergers during the agency’s preliminary review is an early termination list of companies that have been given the green light to close a deal before an allotted waiting period.
The FTC – which granted early termination of its review of Realogy’s recent acquisition of ZipRealty – has not added the Zillow-Trulia merger to the list.
Zillow will argue before the FTC that there are literally thousands of competitors, and they’re right; however, when it comes to the main competitors, as an industry, we’ve long called Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com the “Big Three,” and changing that landscape changes control over the market. While most believe the FTC will approve, it is not a guarantee.
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