Zillow, the Seattle-based real estate website known for assigning a “Zestimate” to home values is buying San Francisco’s Trulia for $3.5 billion in stock, the companies announced this week.   The merger is expected to be completed sometime in 2015.  According to Spencer Rascoff, the chief executive of Zillow, Trulia will remain independent and Zillow is building a portfolio of real estate websites, each serving different markets.  How this will play out in the future and the impact on the real estate industry will bear watching.  Not to be outdone, announced yesterday that they have a new free tool on their website that allows consumers to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan and select a lender.  All users have to do is check a box requesting pre-approval with a lender from a listing page.  They’ll be asked to provide a self-estimated FICO credit score range to start the process and then be contacted by up to three different lenders.

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