Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

The Homes.com Super Bowl Ad I would run

As an exercise I thought it might be fun to write a script for the Super Bowl Ad I would run if Mr. Florance would let me. Enjoy!

Ziltorfin just peed in its pants

“Over $1B invested” 👀

Homes.com teases Super Bowl Ad

Watching the Grammy’s last night I caught an ad for Homes.com.

The ad features Lil’ Wayne and Dan Levy with the tag line, “Home Shopping goes back to school” and then the date “2.11.24”, which is the date to the Super Bowl.

There are also two other ads on their YouTube channel. The one above features Dan Levy again and Heidi Gardner riffing on new Homes.com slogans.

The last video appears to have CoStar’s CEO Andy Florance in a cameo board room scene (:15). Both of them teasing the “2.11.24” Super Bowl date.

We are already know that Mr. Florance likes to go big with their promotion, and nothing is bigger than a Super Bowl ad. Should be fun to watch!

Andy Florance teases new Homes.com celebrity spokesperson

A little birdie told me that Costar CEO, Andy Florance dropped the name of the celebrity spokesperson for Homes.com. The news dropped while Andy was being interviewed by Brad Inman at Inman Connect NYC. And who is it? Dan Levy. I think Dan Levy is a great choice, although I think his father, Eugene Levy, would have been awesome too. There will be other celebrities featured too but it sounds like Dan is the man.

The first commercials start dropping February 11th.

[UPDATE: Clarification, Mr. Florance said there were 4 new actors and Dan Levy one of them and the only one he disclosed.]

Authenticity, CoStar and the craps table.

If you haven’t caught our last episode of Industry Relations that just dropped today you hear Rob talk about the desire for industry entities such as NAR to stop the corporate word salad and speak authentically. This conversation made me think about an article and podcast that caught my attention. It was in relation to the letter (email?) Andy Florance, CEO of CoStar, sent regarding a few statements made at NAR NXT. The entire letter is available (and link to the podcast) so you can go read it here at:

COSTAR CEO SENDS MESSAGE TO WSJ & REALTOR.COM

In the letter Mr. Florance make a few statements:

He calls out Bob Evans, VP of Industry Relations at realtor.com, for making false statements “that Homes.com was working against real estate agent“.

He (Andy F.) takes full responsibility for CoStar News naming Sitzer/Burnett plaintiff attorney Michael Ketchmark, “newsmaker of the week” and states “It will not happen again.” [Small quibble; Ketchmark was named “Person of the week”]

He also points out the fact realtor.com and the WSJ is owned by the same company and then makes a damn good point. Here’s a quote from his letter:

Many people mistakenly believe that Realtor.com is part of NAR. In fact, it is not, it was sold years ago and is now owned by News Corp. The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com are sister companies. They work together closely. The folks that call the shots for The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com are one and the same.

The Wall Street Journal has been prolifically writing more than most about theSitzer/Burnett class action lawsuit and the NAR defeat. They have published article titles such as “Home Sellers Take On the Realtors Cartel”, “Almost No One Pays a 6% Real-Estate Commission-Except Americans”, “The Upending of One of America’s Most Popular Professions”, “The Way You Pay to Buy or Sell a Home is About To Change”, “Jury Finds Realtors Conspired to Keep Commissions High”, “Real-Estate Commissions Could Be the Next Fee on the Chopping Block”, “Realtors Face an Antitrust Reckoning” and more.

Letter from Andy Florance, CEO & Founder of CoStar

Zing! Pow! Authentic enough for you yet? Love him or not Andy Florance is not in his box seats, he is on the field, and I’m here for it.

As a prolific player of craps I have an analogy for you. In the game of craps you have the concept of “right way” and “wrong way” bettors. In simple terms “right way bettors” are betting on the shooter, and “wrong way bettors” are betting “against the shooter”. When a hot craps game is going on and a “wrong way bettor” shows up at the table everyone gets pissed off. They think having a “wrong way bettor” at the table brings “bad juju”. CoStar, in my view, has been perceived by the industry as a “wrong way bettor”. This was due to the fact that CoStar’s business model does better with the elimination or neutering of buy side compensation. And guess what? It’s looking like Andy made the right bet.

“7 OUT!”

Here’s the thing as these so called “portal wars” heat up. There are many things that we can argue about regarding the business models of all the portals. Dual agency, agent responsiveness, etc. But the Sitzer/Burnett ruling and all the copy cat lawsuits are making it very clear that the game has changed. CoStar isn’t the wrong way bettor any longer.

We need to move on. CoStar, Zillow, Realtor.com are all going to have to adjust. We as an industry are going to have to adjust.

We aren’t play craps anymore. Feels to me more like poker.

Stay Classy CoStar, Stay Classy

WTAF? “Person of the week”? Michael Ketchmark (the attorney who brought and won the commission lawsuits against NAR and other industry players) is CoStar’s hero now?

Homes.com was #2 portal in September

CoStar’s Homes.com beats Redfin, Realtor.com to become No. 2 portal

“In a monumental sign of the real estate listing portal’s growing influence, CoStar Group’s Homes.com hit over 100 million unique visitors in September, besting Realtor.com and Redfin in monthly unique visitor traffic for the first time since acquiring the portal nearly three years ago, the company announced Monday.

That level of traffic made Homes.com the No. 2 most visited listing portal during the month of September, second only to listing giant Zillow. Realtor.com reported 74 million monthly unique visitors and Redfin reported 52 million unique visitors for the month.

CoStar founder and CEO Andy Florance told Inman that the company’s achievement was no accident since a lot of time and energy went into getting the Homes.com portal to where it is today.

“I know we’ve surprised everybody,” Florance said.

Lillian Dickerson, Inman News

I’m not too surprised, I see Homes.com ads everywhere online, but I will say I’m very surprised how quickly this happen. Congrats to the entire team at CoStar!

MLS-Touch reaches “Mobile Milestone”

MLS-Touch by CoreLogic Hits One Million Agent “Mobile Milestone”

“The demand for MLS-Touch from multiple listing organizations and Associations across the US and Canada has been tremendous,” said Charles Drouin, Senior Product Leader at CoreLogic. “We are seeing rapid adoption and usage, with MLS-Touch disrupting the leaderboard and becoming the preferred mobile app used by real estate agents today,” he added.”

CoreLogic

Bravo. I have to say CoreLogic’s acquisition of Prospects Software was super smart. Add to that the timing of CoStar’s acquisition of Homesnap (and their failure to resign the BPP) along with a well executed sales strategy and you get these results. Big congrats to Charles, Kevin and the rest of the team.

Homes.com responds…

Remember that article, Homes.com Using Your Name to Steal Your Leads?

Well, Homes.com responded to the article. And not just anyone but Homes.com CEO David Mele.

THE HOMES.COM RESPONSE WILL SURPRISE YOU

Ray: “One of the questions I was asked by agents, does Homes.com have the right to use an agent’s Name, Image, or Likeness to advertise or market the Homes.com website?”

Mele: “Homes.com has not specifically selected and used agent names, images or likenesses to advertise the Homes.com website. But we have utilized Google’s DSA system, which generated ads based on content that was listed Homes.com, which included both property listings and agent profiles.”

It’s precisely what I pointed out before. Agents using a platform like Google (which is free) means they (the agents) are the product. Homes.com is doing nothing wrong here.

The Q&A goes on to address “selling leads” and what happens to the inquiries made on the website.

Ray: “You stated in your email that “Homes.com doesn’t sell leads or trick users. … Click on our ads and submit leads, and see where they go.” One of the agent’s spouses did this. They went to YouTube, searched for the agent (their spouse) by name and saw the Homes.com ad using that agent’s name. They clicked on the ad that took them to the agent’s profile page. Then they searched for a house, clicked on a house and submitted a request. That inquiry did not go through to the agent whose name they had searched on YouTube. Can you help me understand anecdotes like this that we received?”

Mele: “If they had submitted an inquiry from the agent’s profile page, that inquiry would have gone directly to the agent they landed on.  But if they then searched for a house listed by another agent, then the inquiry would have gone directly to the listing agent for that house.  Since we employ a “Your Listing, Your Lead” model, all inquiries from listing detail pages go to the listing agent and the listing agent only. And these leads are not sold to the listing agent.  They are provided for free.”

It’s pretty funny that agents can’t grasp the “your listing, your lead” concept. Big kudos to David Mele for addressing these concerns head-on.

Is Homes.com hijacking traffic from broker and agent websites?

BREAKING: IS HOMES.COM USING YOUR NAME TO STEAL YOUR LEADS?

“Is Homes.com selling your own leads back to you?

Kristina Smallhorn, eXp agent and real estate YouTube extraordinaire, searched her own name on YouTube and was shocked at what she found. 

The ad read, “Kristina Smallhorn, Real Estate Agent in Baton Rouge, LA” and looked like a large text post on Facebook. The call to action was a simple “Visit site,” and just below that was a one-line title for the ad: “Find Beautiful Real Estate for Sale with Homes.com”

Interesting story. CoStar has recently touted that they have increased traffic to Homes.com website by 84%, we may be finding out how they are doing it.

It appears that in this case Homes.com is buying ads on YouTube and YouTube is inserting Homes.com ads in YouTube search results related to high performing real estate YouTube channels. These ads will use the agent’s name and then link back to their Homes.com agent profile.

What’s the rub? Well what the article gets wrong is that with Homes.com’s “your listing, your lead” any lead on Kristina’s listings should go right back to her. But Kristina and other agents are concerned about traffic.

“It’s harmful because they are tracking your leads that you’ve cultivated with your content to drive traffic to their website. They are using your name to collect data and send advertising to those people who wanted to speak to you and now are being pushed to use their site,”

Another concern is that a lot of the information on the agent profile is incorrect. Christa Nielsen writes…

“As (with) all ads, when the user clicks to the Homes.com ad that is using my name without permission, they are now going to be “followed” and retargeted from them.  They are using agents to generate traffic to their website.  This, plus the false information shown, can be detrimental to any business.”

Christa goes on to say that a lot of data on her profile was compltely wrong, including sales history and experience.

“If someone is clicking this profile, they are being shown that I, for example, sold one house in the last 5 years. This also can be detrimental.”

There are a few concerns here. I’m not sure if this would be too much of a story but CoStar’s CEO Andy Florance’s statements about other portal’s “hijacking” leads seems to invite criticism when something like this is exposed.

On the other hand, Kristina and Christa are using Google’s platform(s) (most likley for free) and as the saying goes, “if the service is free, you’re the product.”

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