Rupert Murdoch interview: Why I bought realtor.com

02/02/2015

Rupert Murdoch interview: Why I bought realtor.com

NEW YORK – Jan. 30, 2015 – News Corp founder and executive chairman Rupert Murdoch took the stage at Real Estate Connect in New York on Thursday to explain why Move Inc., the operator of realtor.com, was a better acquisition than other online real estate advertising websites.

According to Murdoch, Move and realtor.com have a trifecta of powerful marketing points over Zillow and Trulia:

  1. "Move has the most up-to-date and accurate listings in the market," Murdoch said, noting that realtor.com's listings are updated every 15 minutes.
  2. "Move has a close relationship with the National Association of Realtors®, and I believe real estate agents are crucial to every home sale in America," he said.
  3. "Realtor.com attracts transaction-ready consumers – they're not just window shoppers – and that's attractive to advertisers," Murdoch said.

Most people who begin their real estate search online eventually need human interaction and guidance, Murdoch believes, and realtor.com facilitates those connections.

"There is no digital replacement for the human touch," he said. "No technology can meet all of someone's needs. It takes a real person. Realtor.com helps bring homebuyers, sellers, and agents together. We want the shortest distance between the American Dream and a family's reality to be realtor.com."

Murdoch reassured critics that News Corp's goal is not to turn Move into a media company and take realtor.com away from its mission of connecting agents with consumers. Instead, he said, he wants to enhance the realtor.com user experience to help it better fulfill its mission.

"We're going to add to the user interface, make it more obviously friendly for agents and consumers," Murdoch said. "We've got to make a better product, and then when we're satisfied, we need to get out and market it hard.

Australian-born Murdoch said that he understands "there's a different business model in America. We don't want to replace agents – we think they're absolutely central."

Murdoch also predicted that the U.S. housing market would continue to expand and recover – another reason he was interested in buying a real estate company. He said the data he's been seeing from Move thus far is encouraging, and the U.S. market offers the best bet for long-term growth in the world.

Murdoch ended on a note that became the most talked-about moment of his appearance: He said he believed in the ability of the realtor.com name to attract consumers away from the site's rivals because "we all know what 'Realtor' means," Murdoch concluded when he compared the marketing muscle of online ad sites. "What the hell does 'Zillow' mean?"

Source: Graham Wood, Realtor Magazine

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