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Court Lifts Zillow Group's Restraining Order

With this past Thursday’s court decision, the two entities are now just weeks away from being completely separated from one another. The question remains, however, how will all of this affect the industry and consumers?

A judge ruled Thursday to lift a temporary restraining order against ListHub, and set the end date of the syndication agreement between the Move, Inc.-owned listing syndicator and Trulia for April 7.

This is the same day another syndication agreement between ListHub and the Zillow Group (which includes Trulia) will end. The two entities also reached an agreement on this, with Trulia agreeing to dismiss its lawsuit as part of the settlement.

These developments follow legal wrangling that has been ongoing between the portal power players for months. In January, Zillow disclosed it was ending its listing agreement with ListHub on April 7. ListHub had hoped to maintain its agreement but that would not bear out, as Zillow had launched its own listing management platform, the Zillow Data Dashboard, to ultimately account for the “few hundred thousand” of Zillow’s 3.6 million listings affected by the ListHub agreement ending.

Then, ListHub initially announced mid-February that it was preparing to end its direct syndication relationship with Trulia on February 26, much sooner than it was originally scheduled to end in June of 2016. At that time, Zillow Group filed for a temporary restraining order on that, which the California Superior Court granted but then lifted as a result of Thursday’s hearing.

In a statement released to the press, Move said of the decision, "We are extremely pleased and delighted with the court's ruling. As part of ListHub's commitment to the industry and homebuyers and sellers, we have reached an agreement to continue to provide ListHub's data feed to the Zillow Group (which includes Trulia) until April 7th, the day ListHub's agreement ends with Zillow."

The outcome could be significant for Trulia, with reports indicating that information from ListHub makes up more than 25 percent of its listings. Zillow Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment, however this statement was circulating following the ruling: “We are working hard to ensure home sellers and their agents can easily continue to market homes on Trulia, which attracts one of the largest audiences of homebuyers in the country, and we are having tremendous success signing contracts for direct MLS feeds. By the time ListHub stops sending listings to Trulia on April 7, we expect a small percentage of Trulia’s overall listing count to be affected.”

It’s been a transformational several months for the portal giants – with News Corp acquiring Move, Inc., which owns ListHub and operates realtor.com® for the National Association of Realtors®, and Zillow Group forming following the acquisition of Trulia by Zillow after an intensive, six-month-long antitrust review by the FTC.

The sparring between the entities over the ListHub agreements ending has included some memorable remarks by company executives or statements released in general. Following the disclosure that Zillow was ending its listing agreement with ListHub, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff said it was “liberating” for the company.

But after Trulia President Paul Levine said that the early termination of its agreement with ListHub would cause an “incredible hardship,” a statement from Move followed with, "What a difference two days make! On Wednesday, Spencer Rascoff was celebrating the ‘liberating moment’ when ‘we announced we were parting ways with News Corp,’ and how they ‘were really freed from the constraint of being reliant on a competitor for listings,’ listings he (inaccurately) described as ‘inferior.’ Today, they say that the ‘sudden’ loss of those listings is ‘an incredible hardship for agents and consumers.’ What hasn't changed is that realtor.com® remains the best place for agents to find leads and consumers to find homes."

With this past Thursday’s court decision, the two entities are now just weeks away from being completely separated from one another, and sounds like perhaps not a moment too soon. The question remains, however, how will all of this affect the industry and consumers? Stay tuned for continued coverage.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

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