Move Inc., an owner of real-estate websites, rose to the highest since July as a stronger forecast and a jump in demand for online services signaled transaction growth in a weak housing market.
Move gained 2.9 percent to $8.99 at the close in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares rose 15.2 percent Feb. 10. They fell 39 percent in 2011.
“There has been a powerful shift in the way consumers source information with users turning to the Internet, and this sits really well with real estate,” said James Dobson, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in Boca Raton, Florida. “It’s an industry that works really well with mobile devices and this bodes well for companies like Move and Zillow.”
Move, led by Steve Berkowitz, who ran Microsoft Corp.’s MSN business from 2006 to 2008, has focused on boosting its online presence. The Campbell, California-based company runs Move.com, Realtor.com, Moving.com and SeniorHousing.com. The sites link up renters and buyers with properties.
Zillow Inc. is an online real estate information service directed at consumers.
Rental properties were added to Realtor.com last year, as were search capabilities outside the U.S. Move also expanded its use of social media as clients use iPads and iPhones to view property pages.
Users on Move’s main site, Realtor.com, the official website of the National Association of Realtors, spent more than 2.8 billion minutes on the network, viewing more than 6 million pages in 2011. The company reported a 400 percent increase during the past year in the number of leads delivered to Realtors from its social applications.
‘In Its Infancy’
“Mobile use is in its infancy, which is why you see these astronomical growth rates,” Dobson said. “People are out at the weekend, they are in the street in front of a house and look up a listing. If they call the Realtor on that listing then that’s a qualified lead.”
Move last week forecast revenue of between $195 million and $200 million, up from $191.7 million last year and $197.5 million in 2010. The company, as it seeks to boost business through online applications and other technology, appointed John Robinson as chief technology officer to revamp its online strategy.
Even with weaker home prices, Move can help real-estate agents who need support marketing homes in a stagnant economy.
“Home prices may not rise, but companies like Move and Zillow are hoping for transaction pick-up, which means more sales, and more commissions,” Dobson said. “It’s the number of transactions that will benefit them most. So while none of the companies are looking for a positive year, they are cautious, and hoping for stability and some upside.”
Zillow and Move “offer investors two different plays on the market,” Dobson said. He has a buy rating on Zillow.
After a six-year slide in home prices, demand is showing signs of strengthening, bolstered by a jobless rate that fell to 8.3 percent last month. The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy previously owned homes in December held near a 19-month high.
Proposals by President Barack Obama earlier this month to revive the U.S. housing market could supplement more than half a dozen programs put in place to aid homeowners after the 2008 Financial crisis.
Shares of Seattle-based Zillow rose to their highest since September, climbing 2 percent to $33.20 on the Nasdaq.
Editors: Jeffrey Taylor, Daniel Taub