FORT WORTH, TX—In light of Monday’s news regarding Zillow Inc. acquiring Trulia Inc. for $3.5 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction, GlobeSt.com chatted with Fort Worth,TX-based broker/owner Mary Carolyn Gatzke of Bloom Real Estate Group her perspective on the merger, and how it will affect the industry.
GlobeSt.com: What does this merger mean for consumers?
Mary Carolyn Gatzke: With the Zillow/Trulia merger, the number one and number two most trafficked real estate sites in the world are combining to share resources and offer better tools for consumers to have more access to information for their home search and sale process. The merger leaves one clear leader in the online residential real estate space. Zillow and Trulia were at the forefront of the trend to “set real estate information free” online, so the merger of these two companies just means that consumers are going to continue to be able to use these sites to educate themselves and be more actively involved in and educated about the home-buying and selling process.
GlobeSt.com: What’s going to be the affect on buyers?
Gatzke: I think buyers will find that the amount of information at their fingertips will continue to grow. It remains to be seen how powerful Zillow/Trulia may become, and that will vary from state to state based on disclosure laws and within states; it will vary from MLS to MLS based on how they decide to work with Zillow/Trulia.
GlobeSt.com: In your experience, how much do you find that the average buyer relies either of these two sites?
Gatzke: For the most part, today’s buyer relies on these sites extensively. Ninety-four percent of Texans shopped online when house-hunting in 2013. Everyone is getting information about houses on their computers, tablets, telephones, etc. Some—but not all—buyers shape their own search rather than being introduced to properties by their agent. Most are a combination of both, and a good agent will continue to add value to their buyer-clients’ home searches by introducing them to properties. Agents are the first to receive information on new listings through other agents and through our MLS. At this point in time, Zillow and Trulia don’t have immediate access to completely accurate listing information so smart buyers are looking online for education and relying on an agent for current information, access and counsel through the home-buying process.
GlobeSt.com: How much do you think this will affect you as a broker?
Gatzke: Some industry leaders are concerned that the ultimate goal is to get rid of the need for an agent. I don’t believe a website can ever replace agents on the ground with real-time, real experience IN the community. There will always be a market for good service and hands-on expertise.