Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Zillow as Craigslist

Zillow: The most comprehensive list of real estate for sale in America.

“In addition, we all know that every house is for sale. As a consumer, what better place is there to research homes that are not on the market? It doesn’t matter if the data is perfect. As a consumer, it’s the *best* I can find. Go ahead and tell me the data sucks. I don’t care. My bet is, neither do many of your customers.”

Spot on analysis from Todd. Looks like he doesn’t care to “find it first“. Also, I wonder why he used Zillow in his analysis instead of Trulia?

Alon Chaver, iHomefinder CEO, joins Trulia as VP of Industry Services

Alon Chaver
The talent wars at Zillow and Trulia are heating up. Trulia scored a HUGE win with the addition of Alon Chaver to its team.


“As Vice President of Industry Services, Alon is responsible for the strategy and direction of Trulia’s Broker, MLS and Data teams. In this role he will lead Trulia’s efforts to build new industry services for Brokers and MLSs, expand data quality initiatives, and strengthen industry partnerships.”

Alon will be leaving iHomefinder but will remain a major shareholder and a member of the iHomefinder Board of Directors. Alon is super super smart, well connected and has experience of working with the MLS industry from building a well respected IDX company. I have to say this addition really has me re-thinking Trulia. As I’ve said, as recently as my last post, its all about the team and Trulia scored a big with Alon.

Google Ventures launches HomeLight

HomeLight aims to change the real estate business with Google funding.

Jolie O’Dell at Via VentureBeat:

Google Ventures’ latest portfolio company to launch is HomeLight, a startup that’s all about buying and selling real estate.
More specifically, it helps you find the real estate agent — the best one for your price point and neighborhood and experience level — and agents only pay for the service if they end up with a new client out of the process.

“Finding the Right Agent” sites have been around forever, but I like the simple way HomeLight walks you through defining your needs. Showing the history of each agents number of transactions is also very helpful.

It isn’t clear how they are making money. When I came to this agents profile it has a button to “Contact Jody”. So I’m guessing some sort of lead selling is happening now, or in the future.

Worth checking out.

Homes.com attracts a crowd at NARlando

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Walking the floor last week at NAR I was super impressed by Homes.com. They always had the largest crowd from any of the major exhibitors. The impressive part of this was Homes.com also covered one of the largest booth spaces.

This isn’t by accident. With the bright orange signage and shirts the booth was hard to miss. Plus it seemed like every hour a new speaker was on, or a big prize was being given away. That sense of excitement really paid off. Planning all of this is not easy, but implementation is also key, so it was also good to see a bit of hustle from the sales reps working the booth.

Well done!

Reading between the lines of Trulia’s latest broker communication.

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Plans within plans, within plans. This entire communication from Trulia is like a word dance.

One thing is clear, ListHub has both Trulia and Zillow by the short hairs. In Trulia’s latest communication they ever so subtlety suggest to their broker clients that instead of using Listhub they can send feed directly to them instead. You don’t ask, you don’t get, I guess.

They also imply that ListHub data won’t appear on their consumer mobile apps (which recently recieved an A- rating on Clareity’s Review of Real Estate Mobile Application for the Consumer). Not true! They resrict data on their agent mobile product. I’m not sure if this is a typo or some sort of Jedi Mind Trick they are trying to pull.

One quibble, while I certainly understand the restriction, it is a clear case of repurposing data, ListHub/Realtor.com has to be careful here. They don’t want to appear they are trying to stifle competition betweeen any competing Realtor.com apps.

Another thing that jumped out at me was that agents were allowed to update listings on Trulia. Does anyone else think that was crazy?

Is Sutton West Coast Realty run by scumbags?

The evidence indicates yes. As reported over at GeekWire Sutton West Coast Realty was a partner with Estately. I written a lot about Estately and how I believe its at the top, design-wise, of the best real estate search portals on the web. Seems Sutton West Coast Realty thought so too. When they ended their partnership with Estately they just copied the whole Estately site design for themselves.

What does it say for traditional brokerages if one of Canada’s largest brokerages’ idea of innovation is copying a small startup?

I really hope someone at Sutton West Realty wakes up and does the right thing.

Sami Inkinen steps down at Trulia

Trulia Blog: It’s always day one for me.

He’s leaving his current position and joining Trulia’s board of directors.

“But before all of that, I will need to rest and recover a bit. In my case that means I will be mountain biking with my wife to the base camp of Mt. Everest in April.”

You can’t make this shit up.

Making a Move (Inc.)

If I had to pick the biggest story in U.S. real estate this year (aside from the ongoing housing crisis) I would have to say Zillow’s IPO. But looking back I’ve been really impressed at what an incredible year Move, Inc. has put together. Yes, that’s right I said Move.

When you take a look everything Move announced in 2011 you have to say that these guys have been hard at work. Not convinced? Take a look at some of the bigger stories.

January 13. Move, Inc. powers AOL. One of the untold stories about this deal is it was actually a “take away” from LPS. So they not only signed AOL, but took the business away from a competitor. – Well played.

February 11. Realtor.com Android App was showcased a the 2011 Mobile World Conference. In the world of mobile this is a huge deal.

April 21. Move, Inc. signs listing syndication deal with Zillow. Crazy? Like a fox.

April 26. Realtor.com launches iPad App. By far the best real estate app on the iPad.

July 18. Move acquires Social Bios. I’m looking forward to see the implementation points Realtor.com does with this technology.

August 17. AOL Real Estate Launches New Search Experience Powered by Move, Inc. The fruits of their agreement begin to bear fruit.

November 1. Release first real estate CRM app to be powered by HTML5. Super cool update to their Top Producer application.

November 3. Realtor.com goes global. Oh yeah, they launched an international site, just for kicks.

November 21. Reverse Stock Split takes effect. I think this is more a mental thing than anything else.

Plus their Find app has been launched in several MLS markets around the country.

And that’s not including another biggie: “Connections” which allows Realtors to generate leads from listings within a specifc zip code (even if those listings are not their own). While I think Realtor.com lost the “high ground” with this service I do think by displaying all photos within that sponsored zip code is a clever way of placating most agents.

And then they launched a Facebook app dubbed “Social Connections“, with Ernie Graham (founder of recently acquired Social Bios).

Whew, no wonder Audie is so damn busy!

Just half of those initiatives would be a huge undertaking. There are some potential game changers on this list. But, as a wise man once said, “ideas are just multipliers of execution”. 2012 needs to be Move’s year of executing the vision (generating revenue) of what the 2011 bumper crop products and services.

So, what do I take away from this? If Zillow, Truila or anyone else wants to play in this sandbox Berkowitz, Samuelson, Beardsley and the the rest of the Move team is ready for a fight.

Trulia shouts “Me Too!” and adds estimates to its listings

The program is in beta and limited to the San Francisco Bay Area. According to the blog post the functionality was ” built by an in-house team of experts”. At least they didn’t copy Zillow entirely and call them something zany like “Truestimates” or “Testimates”?

Trulia notes this features was requested by their users. But it’s hard to believe that any of those users included Listing Agents or that they, or anyone else shouted “Give Us Your Team Of Experts Best Guess At The Price Of This Home!!”. To combat this they’ve done something interesting by adding a “Tell Us How Badly We Screwed Up On The Price Of This Home.” “Tell Us What You Think About This Estimate.” comment form.

This gives users a way of commenting on the estimate. Not sure if any of these comments will be of any use. Once they include Active Listings you know the seller and seller’s agents are going to say its bullshit if the estimates is too low, and you know any buyer interested in will say the estimate is too high. On the bright side maybe it will have agents creating more CMAs. So let the games begin!

Inman Anticipation…

Like many of you I’m heading up to San Francisco next week for the Data Summit and Real Estate Connect conference, both hosted by Inman News. So here’s a prelude to some of the things I’m looking forward to and thinking about:

I will be attending Inman’s Data Summit. The event will be hosted by Gahlord DeWald and Rob Hahn. I always enjoy getting together with Gahlord, he is a smart guy and I always learn something so it will be interesting to hear he perspective on the data issues plaguing the MLS/Real Estate Industry. Rob Hahn, aka “The Bard of the Long Form Post”, will be hosting too. Rob is always good at making me re-think my current assumptions or at least giving an interesting perspective.

Dan Woolley will be moderating the “Connect Tech” session once again this year and I’m sure he won’t disappoint. Traditionally a geek fest Dan always seems to bring together great minds for interesting conversation about XML and whatnot. The Connect Tech sessions are scheduled for Wednesday, July 27 and start at 8:30AM and end at 12:00PM.

This year Mike Wurzer takes a break from moderating The MLS Innovation Track (Brian Boero will ably take on the task) on Thursday July 28th, starting at 2:00PM. I’ll be on a panel entitled “Managing Your Distribution Channel and Vendor Relationships Profitably and Responsibly”. On the panel with me will be Curt Beardsley of Move, Inc. So please join me as I try not to look stupid sitting next to Curt.

I’m also a big fan of Brad Inman‘s Welcome Address. This year he will be speaking of “The Post-PC World”. But a lot of the hosting duties appear to be taken over by Chris Smith, Inman’s newly hired “Chief Evangelist”. I’ve seen Chris speak at an Agent Reboot Conference and just sat in on a webinar he hosted yesterday. Chris is the real deal, and a very talented speaker who really knows his stuff. The question remains can he go deeper to the the larger issues involving the real estate industry and not just do a presentation on “The Top 10…..”, I think he can, but as an “evangelist” does he even have to?

I’m also look forward to hearing from Joe Bebbia of Airbnb, which for some reason really fascinates me. It will be good to get Ron Conway’s perspective on things and I think David Pogue will be a good draw as well.

But the “Belle of the Ball” might just be Zillow. After a being valued at just about a Billion dollars these guys have to be pumped, and what a perfect conference to strut their stuff. But don’t think the other guys will be sitting still, word on the street is that there will be at least 1 big announcement next week ( I know, I’m a big tease).

Plus doesn’t it seem like there is a lot more parties this year? Almost every night there are one or two parties to go to. I sure hope my liver is ready.

Parties aside to me the next big issue, which we are already having to face, is the advent of these patent lawsuits. As an independent software developer I can tell you that its a big issue that I’m afraid is only going to get worse. It’s not just a real estate issue, this post by Craig Hockenberry spells it out best.

I arrive Sunday evening. I hope to catch up with everyone. And remember Vendor Alley’s first rule of conferences….Never, And I Mean Never, Go Big On The First Night!

See you there!!

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