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Originally published May 8, 2013 at 5:15 PM | Page modified May 9, 2013 at 4:54 PM

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Market Leader’s sale to Trulia may add jobs locally

The Kirkland-based real-estate software provider is being acquired by the real-estate website based in San Francisco for $355 million.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Kirkland-based real-estate software provider Market Leader is being acquired by real-estate website Trulia for $355 million in cash and stock, the companies said Wednesday.

Trulia said it will pay $11.33 per share, an 18 percent premium to Market Leader’s closing price Tuesday of $9.61.

The companies said Market Leader shareholders will receive $6 per share in cash and 0.1553 share of Trulia’s common stock for each share they own.

Trulia, a leading consumer website for homebuyers, says the deal will give it the ability to connect its audience to more than 125,000 real-estate agents who use Market Leader’s software platform for marketing their services and generating leads.

“This gives us an unrivaled set of tools for the real-estate industry — incredible scale in terms of premium subscribers,” said Trulia co-founder and Chief Executive Pete Flint.

No layoffs will result from the deal, and it’s likely the company will grow in Kirkland, he said. Trulia employs about 550, and Market Leader about 250.

“This is all about growth. This is about how do we continue to invest in both teams, not about how do we cut costs,” Flint said.

Founded in 1999 as HouseValues, the company raised about $62.5 million in an initial public offering in 2004. It debuted on Nasdaq that December under the ticker SOLD and sold 6.25 million shares at about $15 apiece.

Later rebranded as Market Leader (with ticker LEDR), the firm grew to 542 employees by the end of 2006.

But the bursting of the housing bubble hammered the company’s finances as real-estate agents reduced spending on marketing. The company closed its Yakima call center and laid off employees.

Market Leader lost money in each of the past five years, according to its regulatory filings. Last year it lost $7.8 million on $45 million in revenue. The company relies heavily on advertising to attract business from real-estate professionals, who pay a monthly subscription for the software service.

Trulia, based in San Francisco, lost $10.9 million on $68.1 million in revenue last year.

Market Leader’s stock closed Wednesday at $10.84, up $1.23. Trulia’s stock slid $2.66 to $31.68.

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com On Twitter @sbhatt

The Associated Press and Seattle Times columnist Brier Dudley contributed to this report.

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