Zillow Rises After Positive Analyst Report

Zillow shares climbed as much as 4% during regular trading hours today in the wake of a glowing report from Canaccord Genuity. Analysts at the firm weighed in on the new Zillow Data Dashboard, saying essentially that Zillow is making its offerings so good that realtors won’t be able to afford not to post their listings on the site.

Zillow bypasses ListHub

This week Zillow announced the partial rollout of its Zillow Data Dashboard. The new product enables brokers and real estate agents to manage their listings on Zillow directly through the site. Thus they become able to bypass ListHub and other third party services that have been handling listing management on Zillow.

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In their report dated Jan. 7, 2015, analysts Michael Graham and Austin Moldow said the new offering means Zillow is essentially “playing offense,” which it started to do more than a year ago. The real estate listing site began to use direct feeds to attract more listings, and they note that the tactic was quite successful, as Zillow increased its direct feed listings by 300,000 in 2014.

Contract with ListHub ends

Currently Zillow has a contract with ListHub, but that contract expires in April. The Canaccord Genuity team points out that this provides the real estate website some time to draw in as many listings as possible through direct feed. In their view, the Zillow Data Dashboard is the result of Zillow not be able to come to a new agreement with ListHub.

Graham and Moldow estimate that Zillow has approximately 3.3 million U.S. real estate sale listings, of which about 2.2 million are being sold by an agent and the rest are being sold by the owner or are in foreclosure. Zillow shows the greatest majority of them.

They point out that the listing site gets many of them from more than one source, but they think about 400,000 of them come only from ListHub. This means the clock is ticking for Zillow, which has until April to attract more listings, agents and brokers onto its new dashboard.

Data Dashboard in beta

The dashboard is now in beta status and is expected to be fully launched in the middle of this month. The Canaccord Genuity team predicts that participation in the real estate industry will be “high.” In fact, they go so far as to suggest that they don’t see how it could be a good business decision for brokers to not put their listings on Zillow.

“What self-respecting seller will tolerate not having his listing published on Zillow?” they mused.

They do point out that there could be some disruption as Zillow transitions from ListHub to its own dashboard. They it’s possible that the website will have “large holes in its listing data” for an extended period as well. The analysts add further though that agents have told them it’s helpful when there’s incomplete information on Zillow because they are able to add more value to customers by sending them listings that aren’t on the website.

When will Zillow merge with Trulia?

Zillow and Trulia announced a merger agreement last year, and there’s no doubt the two companies will enjoy a healthy amount of synergies after they’re combined. The Canaccord Genuity team thinks there’s a good chance it will close before Zillow releases its first quarter earnings results in late April. Along with that earnings report, they expect management to give full-year guidance for the merged company.

They think the merger will “mark the beginning of a new chapter in Zillow’s evolution, with greater efficiency gains for agents, better leverage on marketing spend, and pricing / monetization innovation for Zillow.” Shares of Trulia also surged today, climbing more than 4% during regular trading.

The analysts maintained their Buy rating and $125 per share price target on Zillow.