Inman NYC: Google and Trulia?


Rumors have been flying that Google is poised to buy Trulia, “the real estate search engine” that competes with, among others, Zillow (which just said it is aiming to IPO in 2011).

But according to reports by attendees, no information was forthcoming at Inman’s 2010 Real Estate Connect conference in NYC, where Google Director of Local and B2B markets Sam Sebastian addressed the audience. Sebastian did note however that “we’re actively looking to acquire one to two companies a month.” (Note: This is a corrected quote, per an investigation by Greg Sterling. A previous version suggested he had specifically said “real estate companies.”)

The Trulia rumors have been partially fueled by the development of Google’s new Place Pages, a merchant profile feature that could theoretically be used develop a national Multiple Listings Service, competing with Realtor.com. If that were the case, Trulia would probably help enlist agents and brokerages.

But there is “not some evil plan we have in Mountain View, with millions of folks talking about how we want to take over the real estate markets,” said Sebastian. And there really are no plans to focus on Place Pages for real estate.

Sebastian did note, however, that brokerages were finding out Google’s advantages on their own. “Agents have always been pretty engaged in buying keywords and targeted ads from Google to drive traffic to their Web sites,” he said.

Trulia, itself, reports that it has come off a gangbuster year, with 62.3 million unique visitors, and 45 percent more visits, and 105 percent more page views. Along with increased engagement, Trulia reports that “consumer interest in homes exploded, with nearly 1 million home buyer inquiries sent to real estate agents in 2009.”

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