Realtor.com CEO: ‘Zillow took that crown off us — and I want it back’

Publish Date: August 08, 2023

Written by Daniel Houston

- Originally published at Inman News - Daniel Houston

During Inman Connect on Tuesday, Damian Eales, Realtor.com’s newly installed CEO, revealed the marching orders he’s received from Rupert Murdoch as he aim to scale the top of the portal game.

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When Damian Eales took over as CEO of Realtor.com a few months ago, he said the higher-ups handed him a clear mandate.

“One word: grow,” Eales said Tuesday at the Inman Connect real estate conference in Las Vegas. “And I think that if you go one level beneath that, how do you grow a business like Realtor.com, is you grow audience in the first instance; and then secondly you do a better job to serve your customers. And that’s what we’re entirely focused on.”

Eales’ comments offered one of the first public looks into how the nation’s No. 2 real estate listings portal plans to push to regain market share from Zillow, the No. 1 player in the space. They come on the heels of a scuttled bid by CoStar to purchase the Realtor.com platform earlier this year.

Brad Inman, the founder of Inman and moderator of the session, noted that Realtor.com was second to Zillow in online audience for a real estate listings platform.

“How does second feel to you?” Inman asked Eales on stage. “For me, second pisses me off.”

“Second pisses me off too,” Eales replied. “Of course we don’t want to be No. 2. We were No. 1. We predate Google in the digital industry. We were created in 1995. We are the original listings site. We were No. 1 for many years. Something happened where Zillow took that crown off us — and I want it back.”

Before taking the top Realtor.com job in June, Eales worked for about a decade as an executive with its parent company, the Rupert Murdoch media empire News Corp. It’s those very media brands — The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and Fox News cable network — that Eales wants to leverage to eventually boost Realtor.com over its chief competition.

This initiative may also involve strategic efforts from the content team. Eales pointed out the Post‘s huge traffic on articles related to the Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, when the New York Mets dealt two star pitchers to major league teams in Texas.

“The player is moving to Dallas … what are the Top 5 houses that he should be looking at right now?” Eales mentioned as one idea for an article that could bring more attention to the real-estate listing site.

Beyond the synergies between Realtor.com and News Corp.’s other assets, Eales said the site enjoys another key advantage in its efforts to build up the company’s listings and lead-selling platform.

“I really feel we are more joined at the hip with Realtors than our competitors,” Eales said. “And I want to lean into that.”

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