The search behemoth far and away led market share for search portals, drawing 44 percent of all real estate web traffic, but CoStar’s Homes.com leaped by bounds last month, according to an analysis.
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Zillow continues to dominate the market share for real estate web traffic in the U.S. — but other companies — notably, CoStar’s Homes.com — are making sizable gains, even as traffic to real estate portals declines overall amid market uncertainty, according to a new analysis released earlier this week.
Search behemoth Zillow far and away led market share for real estate search portals between February 2022 and February 2023, gobbling up 44 percent of the market for real estate web traffic, according to the digital intelligence platform Similarweb. Realtor.com followed with 19 percent, while Redfin boasted the third highest at 15 percent.
Overall, visits to real estate search portals decreased 5 percent year over year in February as home sales slipped amid high mortgage rates. Consumers have continued to visit those sites, however, even if just to browse.
“While traffic has noticeably decreased for the category YoY, dreaming about homes and searching for them by consumers continues even though transactions have fallen significantly,” the study’s author, Raymond “RJ” Jones, vice president of communications and insights at Similarweb, told Inman.
The report found 98 percent of the total share of real estate search portal traffic belongs to the top 10 sites — and nearly half of that share belongs to Zillow alone through the combination of Zillow-owned portals Streeteasy and Trulia.
While Zillow took the lion’s share of web traffic, only three of the 17 websites tracked posted year-over-year increases in traffic: Homes.com, RE/MAX and Compass.
CoStar’s Homes.com posted the most rapid growth, with its web traffic increasing 86 percent year over year. The report theorized that the portal may be benefiting from an increase in advertisement spending in 2022, a strategy that other CoStar property Apartments.com has also implemented.
“Homes.com benefitted from effective investing over the past year,” Jones said. “A combination of refreshed UX, integrating HomeSnap activity and operations into Homes.com, and targeted brand advertising spend off of a low traffic base to begin with set them up to gain share from incumbents that have not been as effective in investments.”
The site with the smallest market share proved to be Rocket Homes, which posted a 57.5 percent annual decrease in web traffic to only 0.2 percent of market share, which the report attributed to the rapid rise in mortgage rates seen throughout 2022.
Realtor.com posted a noticeable decrease in users over the past year. Its market share fell more than 3 percent annually according to the report, more than any other portal, despite marketing efforts that included a new advertising campaign during the fall.
“Homes.com benefitted to an extent from the laws of large numbers, while Realtor.com did not – looking at gross number of visits, where Homes.com gained millions of visits, Realtor.com lost millions of visits year over year,” Jones said.
CoStar group engaged in talks with Realtor.com’s parent company News Corp during early 2023 about a potential sale, but the talks eventually fell through.
The report also found that home search portals tied to specific brokerage brands account for a small share of traffic, with RE/MAX and Compass’s in house search portals accounting for only 1.5 and 1.3 percent of total search traffic during 2022. Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams and eXp each accounted for less than 1% — while Century 21’s search portal posted a 43 percent annual decrease in traffic.