While Zillow Inc. Chief Executive Officer Spencer Rascoff began talks to purchase No. 2 real estate website Trulia Inc. six weeks ago, the roots of the deal stretch back at least eight years.

Rascoff started thinking about combining the two companies a year after Zillow went online in 2006, the 38-year-old CEO said in an interview. He then began actively discussing the prospect of a deal internally three years ago. While formal talks didn’t begin until recently, Rascoff got to know Trulia CEO Pete Flint early on and kept in close touch with him, according to Rich Barton, Zillow’s executive chairman who passed the CEO job to Rascoff in 2010.

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