Realtor.com’s parent eyeing the mortgage business

News Corp. claims acquisition of OpCity lays groundwork for “adjacencies” in other businesses

TRD NATIONAL /
Nov.November 08, 2019 11:30 AM
 News Corporation founder Rupert Murdoch and CEO Robert Thomson (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

News Corporation founder Rupert Murdoch and CEO Robert Thomson (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

UPDATED Friday November 8, 2019, 10:49 a.m.: Side businesses may be coming to Realtor.com.

The site’s parent company Move Inc. will be moving into offering “adjacencies,” such as mortgages, as the overhaul of Realtor.com’s lead generation platform continues, said News Corporation’s CEO Robert Thomson in an earnings call Thursday. News Corp. owns Move.

“We are not entering the house-flipping, distressed-sale business, but want to offer vendors as many potential purchasers as possible,” he explained. “The more competition for a house, the higher the price for the seller.”

Thomson’s announcement comes a year after Move acquired lead-generation startup OpCity for $210 million last year. OpCity’s model began rolling out on Realtor.com this year with two changes that concerned some agents: The startup vets leads before passing them on to agents and collects a referral fee.

News Corp. CFO Susan Panuccio said on the call that the rationale behind last year’s OpCity deal was to increase revenue and provide a chance for Move to add “auxiliary revenues of different services.”

Move’s reported quarterly revenues increased 4 percent year over year to $123 million from $118 million in the same period last year.

The conglomerate’s intention to add businesses to its digital real estate services offerings comes as its looking to sell other subsidiaries as part of a “simplification” process. But Thomson is bullish on Realtor.com’s chances and the U.S. housing market as a whole.

“We have reason to be optimistic of its prospects thanks to signs of improving health in the U.S. housing market,” he said. “Existing home sales are on the rise, and there has been rapid audience growth at Realtor.com.”

Realtor.com’s unique visitors on web and mobile sites increased 18 percent from the prior year to about 71 million, according to the company’s internal data. For reference, Comscore claims Zillow Group has about 24 million unique visitors — a fact Thomson noted in the call, referring to Zillow by name.

“We’re in the very early stage of this evolution of the digital real estate market in the United States,” he said, noting that News Corp. expects to see Move’s financial results accelerate later in the company’s fiscal 2020 year. “Both short, medium, and long term, we believe that Realtor.com is a tremendous property.”

Correction: In the sixth paragraph, Move Inc.’s revenues for the previous year’s quarter was originally cited as $188 million; in fact, the company reported revenues of $118 million.

Write to Erin Hudson at [email protected]


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