Kara Swisher

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Open House? Google Has Also Been Eying Trulia in Real Estate Search Play.

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.


According to sources close to the situation, along with its pending bid for Yelp, Google has been in on-again, off-again acquisition talks with Trulia, the real estate search engine.

It is unclear what price Google (GOOG) would pay, but sources estimate that Trulia’s valuation ranges between $150 million and $200 million, although there could be a big premium on that.

Rumors about Google’s interest in the real estate search market–and specifically in Trulia–have been rebounding around Silicon Valley for the last year.

But Google has pulled the trigger on a number of acquisitions of innovative start-ups recently and, sources said, will continue to do so.

Trulia–which is based in San Francisco and allows people to search for a range of data about homes for sale in particular zip codes or cities nationwide–is one of the more obvious candidates for the search giant’s local and mobile efforts.

Its business and that of its competitors–which is largely based on advertising and lead generation–has been growing quickly, despite the economic downturn in housing.

More interestingly, Trulia is deeply integrated into Google Maps, an arena the company recently targeted for growth with a series of announcements about new search features.

Trulia has raised about $33 million since 2005, with investors that include high-profile Silicon Valley venture firms Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital.

Interestingly, Accel and Sequoia recently made bank when Google bought AdMob for $750 million.

Trulia’s clearest competitor is the larger Zillow, located in the Seattle area. But, sources said, Google is more interested in Trulia, given its location in the Bay area and lower valuation.

Zillow has raised about $87 million from Benchmark Capital, Technology Crossover Ventures, PAR Capital Management and Legg Mason.

Redfin, another Seattle-based rival, has raised about $31 million from its own well-known collection of VCs.

This week, Google’s interest in Yelp, the local review site, also became public, in a deal that could cost upward of $600 million.

It is all part of a buying spree that Google has engaged in of late, with six acquisitions costing $1 billion so far.