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BAM Key Details: 

  • On July 9, the National Advertising Division (NAD) recommended CoStar Group discontinue two claims regarding website traffic on Homes.com.
  • Move, Inc. brought the two challenges to Fast-Track SWIFT, an expedited process for single-issue advertising cases brought to NAD.
  • This comes less than a week after Move, Inc. filed a lawsuit against CoStar, alleging that the latter unlawfully stole trade secrets. 

Fast-Track SWIFT challenges have led to two strong recommendations for CoStar Group

Discontinue two specific claims made regarding Homes.com monthly traffic. 

The two claims under dispute: 

  1. “Homes.com just reached 156M monthly unique visitors.”
  2. “Homes.com now has DOUBLE Realtor.com’s traffic.”

Move, Inc., the parent company of Realtor.com, challenged CoStar’s claims, ultimately taking action against the latter for misleading the public. This comes less than one week after Move filed a lawsuit against CoStar Group for unlawfully acquiring trade secrets.

NAD States Homes.com Claims Are “Not Supported”

Fast-Track SWIFT is an expedited process for advertising cases brought to the National Advertising Division (NAD), an arm of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). 

NAD reviewed the claims being challenged and recommended CoStar discontinue them for the following reasons: 

  1. The first statement suggests monthly unique visitors to Homes.com amount to 156 million when that number is based on combined total traffic to 16 other CoStar sites in the Homes.com Network rather than on unique visitor traffic to the Homes.com website alone. Google Analytics puts monthly unique visitors to Homes.com at 110 million. 
  2. The second statement is inaccurate because 110 million is not twice the number of monthly unique visitors to Realtor.com (66). 

NAD agreed with Move’s arguments that, based on Homes.com’s publicly shared analytics data, the disputed “claims [are] not supported.” 

From the NAD press release: 

“NAD considered the accuracy of the challenged comparative claim that ‘Homes.com now has DOUBLE Realtor.com’s traffic.’ NAD determined that this claim is not supported and recommended that it be discontinued because Homes.com’s claimed 110 million monthly visitors are not ‘double’ the 66 million unique visitors claimed by Realtor.com.”

Responses from CoStar and Realtor.com

CoStar stated that it will comply with NAD’s recommendations in its advertiser statement.

Homes-dot-com-claims

An example of a previous Homes.com ad. CoStar stated it will comply with NAD’s recommendations and discontinue these claims.

In a statement shared with Inman, Gene Boxer, CoStar Group’s General Counsel, doubled down on Homes.com’s advantage and spun the recommendations as a victory for CoStar: 

“Homes.com has far surpassed Realtor.com, which is now sliding into obscurity. CoStar is delighted that the NAD recognized that the Homes.com Network had 156 million unique monthly visitors in March 2024, and that Homes.com had 110 million (as calculated by Google Analytics). Realtor.com reported only 66 million unique monthly users in the same period, measured by Adobe Analytics. CoStar is pleased that NAD recognized that both metrics are derived from ‘site centric data gathering tools.’

“As a result, Homes.com is the #2 most-visited residential real estate portal, far surpassing Realtor.com, and the Homes.com Network has double the traffic of Realtor.com. Apples to apples, Realtor.com is losing the portal wars, and losing big. Consistent with NAD’s decision, CoStar will continue to advertise that fact and disclose the number of unique visitors to the Homes.com Network and Homes.com. Realtor.com’s NAD gambit can’t change those numbers, or the reality: Realtor.com has fallen far behind.”

Realtor.com CEO Damian Eales was pleased with NAD’s decision, stating: 

“We’re pleased the National Advertising Division saw through CoStar’s smoke and mirrors and put this issue to rest with the recommendation that CoStar withdraw their false advertising claims of 156 million monthly unique users for Homes.com and having double the traffic of Realtor.com. The contrast with CoStar is becoming increasingly clear.”

“CoStar has misled Homes.com customers while Realtor.com has remained focused on growing a quality audience and quality leads for both buying agents and listing agents.”

Stay tuned for more—these portal wars likely aren’t over just yet.