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Trulia vs. Zillow: The Battle for Online Real Estate

NEW YORK (TheStreet -- Trulia is the latest Web site daring the public to buy its shares, hoping to raise $75 million in the very competitive world of real estate listings.

The online real estate company is also setting itself up to go directly against its rival Zillow (Z).

Unfortunately, in this post-Facebook (FB) IPO world, investors are less willing to take a chance on a company that hasn't turned a profit.

That wasn't the case for Zillow when it went public in July of 2011. It priced at $20 above its planned range of $16 to $18 and shot up to $60 on its first trade. Its first-day return was 79%, By December 2011, Zillow's stock was down to around $21.

The volatility has continued but 2012 has been kinder, and Zillow shares have bumped back up to close Thursday at $37.99.

There aren't a ton of analysts covering Zillow -- only nine, but six give it a buy rating. Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Graham even reaffirmed its buy rating on Zillow when Trulia filed. He believes Zillow's competitive position is intact, writing: "They create tools for agents and are pursuing lower tier subscribers."

But is there really much difference between the two?

Trulia claims it is "redefining the home search experience" and sells itself as having the "inside scoop." The company also makes a big deal out of it "free" products for agents, but also says its subscription products provide a high rate of return on investment.

The company's IPO filing states, "On average, paying subscribers receive more than five times the number of monthly leads compared to real estate professionals who only use our free products." Zillow also provides subscriptions for professionals.

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