The Realtor.com parent company saw revenue declined 13 percent to $127 million in the fiscal second quarter. Mobile and website annual traffic growth remained flat — an improvement from Q1’s 12 percent loss. News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said he’s hopeful about the portal’s trajectory as the U.S. housing market improves.
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Realtor.com parent company Move Inc. suffered another quarter of revenue and lead volume declines, according to a fiscal second quarter earnings release issued late last week.
News Corp — which owns Move Inc. — said higher mortgage rates, high home prices and other macroeconomic headwinds pushed Move’s total revenue down 13 percent year over year to $127 million. The share of revenue generated from Realtor.com’s referral model and the traditional lead generation products declined one percentage point to 82 percent during the quarter, as lead volume dipped 7 percent.
Although Move’s revenue continued to slip, the company managed to stop the bleeding on the traffic front. The average monthly unique users for Realtor.com’s web and mobile sites remained flat at 66 million — an improvement from the first fiscal quarter when traffic declined 12 percent annually.
Overall, News Corp’s digital real estate services segment broke its recent losing streak, as REA Group benefitted from strong tailwinds in Australia’s real estate market. In Q2 2024, revenues for the segment increased 9 percent to $419 million. Meanwhile, the segment EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) increased 15 percent annually to $147 million due to higher revenues at Australia-based REA Group and cost-savings initiatives at Move.
Unlike most U.S.-based companies, Australia-based News Corp uses a reporting method that ends the year on June 30, putting the company two quarters ahead of other industry earnings.
During the company’s earnings call Thursday evening, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson was optimistic about Move’s trajectory going into the fiscal third quarter due to improving inventory levels, pending home sales and home search traffic at Realtor.com.
“The National Association of Realtors announced that the index for pending home sales increased just over 8 percent in December versus the prior year, the largest increase since June 2020,” Thomson said. “Realtor.com’s latest housing report revealed that January marked the third consecutive month of year-over-year inventory growth, with a 2.8 percent increase in newly listed homes for sale compared to January 2023.”
“Unique users at Realtor have also stabilized, with December ComScore data signaling a return to growth,” he said.
Unlike previous earnings calls, Thomson didn’t mention other real estate portals. However, he said Realtor.com is in a prime position to take advantage of improving consumer sentiment going into the spring homebuying season.
“During the downturn, the Realtor.com team has been assiduously improving the user experience, broadening the portfolio of products for our customers and bolstering the back-end technology so we are poised to take full advantage of the incipient recovery in the U.S. housing market,” he added.
Realtor.com has had an action-packed Q2, as the company’s leaders combat CoStar Group founder and CEO Andy Florance’s claims that his residential portal, Homes.com, has surpassed Realtor.com as the second most trafficked home search site.
“We can’t lie,” Florance said of Homes.com’s triple-digit growth during Inman Connect New York in January. “If I lie about a number in public company reporting, I go to jail four times as long as you’d go to jail for shooting someone in the head in the street. Public companies don’t make these things up.”
Florance has pushed the pedal to the metal in the weeks since, with the announcement that Homes.com earned a top 100 finish on a global SEO ranking list and the launch of a star-studded 2024 advertising strategy that will cost nearly $1 billion.
“We’re confident we have the best site now by far,” he told Inman on Friday. “We’re confident we have an agent-friendly model.”
Inman reached out to Realtor.com CEO Damian Eales for a statement on the company’s latest earnings, but he wasn’t available in time for publishing. However, Eales has used previous interviews and public appearances to welcome the competition from CoStar Group while maintaining his main focus on reclaiming “the crown” from Zillow.
“I love [the competition]. I wake up excited and our team is energized by competition and I think that’s great for everybody in this room,” he said during his latest Inman Connect session. “Whether you’re a Realtor who wants to get better value and better service, you’ll get it through great competition. Whether you’re a technology company that’s looking to do business with one of us, you will be able to leverage that. It’s good for [buyers and sellers] and Realtors alike.”