Photo: Realtor.com

Realtor.com, one of the largest listing sites in the US, is in the business of putting homes on the market. Recently they did exactly the opposite — if only symbolically.

As part of a Realtor.com ad campaign targeting competitor Zillow, a for-sale home in Austin, Texas, was wrapped with a black cover. “Searching for a home to buy on Zillow? You’re missing out on thousands like this,” bold white text printed on the exterior treatment reads cheekily.

The campaign, which also includes online ads and tweets with #SearchMore, plays off Realtor.com’s internal analysis from October. Realtor.com, whose operator Move, Inc. was bought out by News Corp last year, said it found it had about 20 percent more MLS-listed for-sale homes posted nationally than Zillow.com.

“This advertising campaign draws attention to the fact that, unlike our competitors, Realtor.com provides the most comprehensive view of MLS-listed, for-sale homes,” said Nate Johnson, Realtor.com’s chief marketing officer, in a news release.

Responding to Realtor.com’s numbers, Amanda Woolley, a Zillow spokesperson, told HousingWire in a statement that “anyone can selectively pull data to tell the story they want to tell.”

Woolley said the breadth of listings on Zillow and Trulia, its former competitor that Zillow acquired earlier this year, “is more comprehensive and accurate than it has ever been, with more than 350 direct MLS partnerships signed in just the past year.”

“The Zillow brand continues to be the most favored consumer brand by far, with more than half of all real estate category visits coming to Zillow, which is nearly double the size the nearest competitor,” Woolley said in the statement.

Zillow says its database covers 110 million homes, including rentals, for-sale homes and properties not currently on the market. Through the site, users have looked up four out of five homes in the US, according to Zillow.

Realtor.com says it works with 800 multiple listing sevices (MLS) across the US and has over three million listings, about 97 per cent of MLS for-sale homes.

The wrapped three-bedroom home at 8600 Dulcet Drive will be blacked-out until Saturday. On Sunday, from 1pm to 4pm, Goodlife, the realtor brokering its sale, is hosting an open house.

The home is not listed on Zillow.com.

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