Lawsuit claims ‘Trulia Estimates’ infringe on 2011 patent
BY INMAN NEWS.
The battle between the two most popular real estate portals has reached a boiling point. Property search and valuation company Zillow Inc. is suing rival Trulia Inc., alleging the latter’s automated property valuations infringe on a patent issued to Zillow last year. The suit comes on the heels of Trulia publicly filing for an initial public offering of 5 million shares of the company’s stock. Zillow went public last year.
In a complaint filed Wednesday in a U.S. district court in Seattle, Zillow alleges Trulia has infringed on U.S. Patent 7,970,674 B2. The patent’s title, “Automatically determining a current value for a real estate property, such as a home, that is tailored to input from a human user, such as its owner,” describes Zillow’s process for using information supplied by homeowners and real estate professionals to refine Zillow’s automatic home valuations, called “Zestimates.” Zillow applied for the patent on Feb. 3, 2006 and it was issued to the company June 28, 2011.
Zestimates have made the site popular with consumers and “have played a major role in Zillow’s success and growth,” Zillow said in the complaint. The valuations made waves in the real estate industry when the portal first debuted in 2006 and were a key differentiator for the company at launch.
Last September, Trulia rolled out its Trulia Estimates tool in beta, providing consumers with an assessment of a home’s worth. Trulia Estimates use an automated valuation model (AVM) that takes into account recent sales information for other homes in the area, and property characteristics taken from public records including the number of bedrooms and square footage as well as information provided by homeowners. Trulia Estimates launched nationally in March.
Zillow and Trulia both declined to comment for this story. Trulia is also in a “quiet period” during which the company is subject to a ban on discussing itself while in registration to go public.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 3.39 percent, down from 3.5 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered between 3.4 and 3.5 percent for the majority of the week, dropping to the current rate this morning.
“This past week, rates fell back down close to the historic low level we’ve enjoyed since June following the release of the Federal Open Market Committee minutes, which suggested the Federal Reserve was more supportive of additional stimulus in the form of quantitative easing (QE3) than the market had expected,” said Erin Lantz, director of Zillow Mortgage Marketplace.
“Now that rates have returned to the low plateau where they’ve spent most of the summer, we expect rates to remain close to this equilibrium this coming week as the market awaits more significant events in the first half of September,” added Lantz.
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 2.76 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.38 percent.
What are the rates right now? Check Zillow Mortgage Marketplace for up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state.
WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages ticked up for the third straight week, staying slightly above record lows. Cheap mortgages have helped fuel a modest housing recovery this year.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.62 percent, up from 3.59 percent last week. Three weeks ago, the rate fell to 3.49 percent, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.
The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, rose to 2.88 percent. That’s up from 2.84 percent last week and record low of 2.80 percent three weeks ago.
The availability of low rates has lifted home sales higher this year. Home prices have also increased, largely because the supply of homes has shrunk while sales have risen. And builder confidence is at its highest level since March 2007, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders.
Homebuilders broke ground on slightly fewer homes in July, down from June when they started homes at the fastest pace since October 2008. Single-family homes and apartments started in July dipped 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 746,000, the government said Thursday.
Still, builders in July requested the most building permits since August 2008, suggesting many expect demand for newly built homes to rise in the months ahead.
The pace of home sales remains well below healthy levels, however. Many people are still having difficulty qualifying for home loans or can’t afford larger down payments required by banks.
Mortgage rates are low because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. A weaker U.S. economy and uncertainty about how Europe will resolve its debt crisis have led investors to buy more Treasury securities, which are considered safe investments. As demand for Treasury’s increase, the yield falls.
To calculate average rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week.
The average does not include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
The average fee for 30-year loans was 0.6 point, unchanged from last week. The fee for 15-year loans also held steady at 0.6 point.
The average rate on one-year adjustable rate mortgages rose to 2.69 percent from 2.65 percent last week. The fee for one-year adjustable rate loans was unchanged at 0.4 point.
The average rate on five-year adjustable rate mortgages declined to 2.76 percent from 2.77 percent. The fee was steady at 0.6 point.
The seasonally-adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of June was 144,000.
“This represents a supply of 4.9 months at the current sales rate.
Story provided by StockMarketWire.com
By Barry Harrell
Texas saw sales tax collections rise in June, with revenue of $1.98 billion, a 15.2 percent increase over the same month last year, the state comptroller’s office said Wednesday. It was the 27th consecutive month in which sales tax revenue has increased, the comptroller’s office said.
Sales tax is an important source of revenue for the state, paying for a number of services, from schools to prisons.
The collection numbers reported Wednesday reflect sales made in May.
“Strong business spending in industries such as manufacturing and oil and natural gas boosted the latest sales tax collections,” Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said in a news release. “Revenue from consumer spending in the retail trade and restaurant sectors also did well.”
The comptroller’s office said it will distribute $535 million in local sales tax allocations to cities, counties, transit systems and other taxing entities, a 12.7 percent increase over July 2011.
Most Central Texas cities saw their sales tax allocations for July increase over the same month last year, according to data from the comptroller’s office.
Austin’s allocation rose to $12.5 million, a 10.7 percent increase over July 2011’s $11.4 million.
Among other Central Texas cities, Dripping Springs (25.6 percent), New Braunfels (20.6 percent), Bastrop (18.9 percent) and Kyle (18.4 percent) saw the biggest percentage increases in sales tax allocations. Cities seeing declines from last year were Buda (-7.5 percent), Round Rock (-4.7 percent) and Sunset Valley (-3.9 percent), according to data from the comptroller’s office.
Contact Barry Harrell at 912-2960
Date: July 10, 2012 | Author:Camille Salama
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 3.39 percent, down from 3.43 percent at this same time last week.
This represents the lowest rate reported since Zillow Mortgage Marketplace launched in April 2008. The previous low was 3.43 percent, first reported one week ago on July 3. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered between 3.41 and 3.47 percent for the majority of the week, dropping to the current rate this morning.
“Last week, rates were pushed to another all-time low by the worse-than-expected employment report on Friday. This week, rates should remain fairly flat with limited scheduled news to alleviate US and European concerns,” said Erin Lantz, director of Zillow Mortgage Marketplace. “Although these low rates reflect the fragility of the global economic recovery, the silver lining for some U.S. homeowners is the opportunity to refinance at much lower rates, and programs like HARP are extending these opportunities to underwater homeowners who had previously been sidelined.”
*The weekly rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest in six-hour intervals