Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

More info on FCC’s new robocalls rules

Victor talks about some of the details to the FCC new rules as it apples to real estate lead aggregators.

“Real estate leads are among the most expensive leads generated across all American business, often leading to real estate professionals paying as high as 40% of their commission for a sale generated from a lead. Many leads generated at online shopping websites are sold over and over again, causing consumers to be inundated with spam-y text messages and robo-calls that seem to have no end. Now, there must be a clear opt-in by consumers to this form of communication. The FCC wants the consumer to opt in on a 1-to-1 basis to each company that will receive their contact information. “

Victor Lund, WAV Group

As Rob and I discussed on a recent Industry Relations podcast we think this is going to have a bigger impact than any one realizes.

Adam Wiener leaving Redfin

Redfin’s president of real estate operations to depart

“We know with Adam’s departure what Redfin will lose. He’s one of the smartest, kindest, most hard-working and creative folks you’ll ever meet,” Kelman said in the email. “And Redfin will keep changing. We couldn’t keep doing things the way we’ve done with Adam, and we shouldn’t try. Change is necessary and good.”

A Redfin spokesperson didn’t say where Wiener is heading after Redfin. In his email, Kelman said in a year Wiener “will probably be running his own show, at another company also poised to conquer the world.”

Rick Morgan – Inno Senior Reporter

Huge loss, but happy for Adam. As our industry enters a “hunker down” mode I think you’ll see more of these departures. It’s a great time to build.

Clareity MLS Executive Workshop highlights 2015

A few things I wanted to highlight about last week’s Clareity MLS Executive Workshop in Scottsdale, AZ last week. First off Gregg and his entire team did an amazing job. The content was fantastic and they managed to keep the conversation above the salacious syndication war between MOVE and Zillow Group narrative that has been floating around.

But, one of my takeaways about the Zillow Vs MOVE thing was how it effects other players, notably Homes.com. Seems like an opportunity for these guys. When I asked Andy Woolley, now Industry Relations at Homes.com. Andy was quick to point out that while they don’t, and won’t possibly ever have as much traffic as ZTR, they were focusing a lot on “quality”. Meaning the “quality” of leads coming through Homes.com. I was sent a screen shot of a ListHub report (from the Houston market) that seemed to prove that out.

Homes.com lead ratio

Yes, I know their total detail views is much smaller, but their lead ratio is crazy good.

HAR .08%
Zillow .06%
realtor.com .03%
Trulia .019%
Homes.com .97%

The other thing was the direct feed count. Check out this slide.

Direct Feed Count

Homes.com has 400 direct feeds from MLS providers. 400 freaking hundred. Zillow Group isn’t even close. Great lead ratio, huge direct feed count, you gotta wonder what that is worth to someone.

On another topic, was the release of the MLS Satisfaction survey. Here’s the results of the “End User Satisfaction.”

MLS Satisfaction Survey

Looking at MLS Vendors with more than 2 customers it appears that Black Knight and FBS still dominate the top two spots above their competition. Kudos to both of them.

Thanks again to Gregg, Matt and the rest of the Clareity team. We are always thrilled to participate. And I hope you enjoyed the Cloud Streams t-shirts. They look great!

Syndication Shitstorm


Yesterday MOVE slapped the newly formed Zillow Group with the news that as of next week they won’t be providing listing to Trulia any longer. This seemed to be in response to Zillow’s earlier rebuke of continuing the ListHub agreement past the contract date.

Now it appears that Zillow is seeking a restraining order to keep listings flowing to Zillow.

Oy Vey!

A few observations:

Welcome to the team!
Tough first week for Paul Levine, newly appointed president of Trulia.

The Velvet Glove
I’m going to start calling Celeste Starchild, “the velvet glove”, because she always seems to be delivering the bad (good?) news, but tries to downplay the consquences.

Shit Sandwich
And going back to Zillow’s earlier refusal to re-sign with ListHub, can you really blame them? ListHub was basically forcing them to use a data feed their very own company won’t use on its own site (realtor.com). Zillow take is that ListHub was was serving them a shit sandwich, telling them to eat, and that they better like it.

Lobby bars
Good thing the Clareity’s MLS Executive Workshop next week is serving great popcorn, because the show has just begun!

Did you hear?

I’ve been super busy and there has been a lot of news to catch up on. Here’s a few links to stories I think are worth checking out…

Bob Gottesman has been selected as RESOs new Executive Director, effective May 2013. Check out Matt Cohen’s Live Blog transcript to see this and all the RESO Spring Meeting news.

Todd Carpenter’s new site Realty Nex.us is fast becoming one of my favorite industy sites. He recently published a “Special Report” – “Why online consumers love Zillow and Trulia more than you.” It’s free and worth the read. I’ve also added the link to the my “Read This Now!” header.

Speaking of special reports Rob Hahn’s (aka The Notorious R.O.B.) has another report, “[PREMIUM] Move, Trulia, Zillow: Q1/2013 Report – The Narratives Take Shape”. You need to be a premium subscriber to access the content. I haven’t had a chance to read this one yet (you know you need to carve out a big of time for Rob), but his first two Premium reports were excellent.

And if you really need to get caught up on the MLS public facing website debate look further than Inman News for great content and discussion.

Ever heard of the Dymaxion House? How about a conveyor belt linen closet? Now you have.


HomeServices to stop syndicating listings?

The shit just hit the fan…

Twitter was all a…twitter, I guess when Craig Kamman posted that Edina Realty (owned by HomeServices of America) was going to pull their listings from Trulia and other “3rd party aggregators” and possibly Realtor.com. The post is worth a read:

Edina Realty discontinues 3rd Party Sites like Trulia and Realtor.com

This was followed by a blog post by Jay Thompson who had his own take on the news, where he imagines a conversation between an seller and his agent:

“So Mr. Agent, you’ll put our home listing on the internet, won’t you?

Well, it will be on our brokerage site, but we’ve elected not to put your listing on some of the most highly visited real estate sites in the country.

Uhm, why is that?

Well, we want to be sure our agents get the leads your home listing generates. And those meanies at the third party site want to charge for them!

Uhm, isn’t the point to sell our home, not generate leads for you and other agents?”

Obviously Jay doesn’t think it’s a good idea:

Edina Realty pulling listings from Trulia and Realtor.com?

Then Rob Hahn went “Oliver Stone” or got “stoned” at one of California’s many marijuana dispensaries while he was out here for the 2011 NAR Convention in Anaheim. And I quote:

“There is, I believe, a real chance that in the next three to six months, we will see the splintering of the foundation of the industry: the MLS and the Associations. The world that comes next, a world without the Multiple Listing Service, will be one filled with unintended consequences.”

After reading Rob’s post I don’t know whether to hug my kids or ask him to pass the bong, because that is some good shit he’s smoking.

All kidding aside, I may be just whistling through the graveyard so his post is worth the read:

Extinction Event Horizon: Real Estate

This story is developing…

The 2011 Vendor Alley Awards

It’s just about the time of year when you start reading “top 10” lists of 2011. I thought I would start a new tradition here at Vendor Alley and rattle off my choices for top companies and people in the real estate industry for 2011.

I call them “The Vendys”.

1. The “Bob Hale” Award
The reason I call this the “Bob Hale” award is that it seems Bob is listed every year as one of the top influencer/innovators in the industry. So think of it as “besides Bob”, who really made a difference this year in the real estate industry. : )

And the winner is….Merri Jo Cowen

I’ve been a part of CMLS for many, many years and while other board presidents have set the stage for CMLS to take a larger role in the MLS community Merri Jo has been the catalyst to make those goals happen. It’s been a pleasure to have a front row seat to how CMLS has changed over the years and Merri Jo has been a huge part of that success.

2. Best new real estate technology/product. –Nest
What happens with the inventor of the iPod focuses his attention on real estate? Magic.

Runner up- I have to say that I really love Realtor.com’s iPad app.

3. Top MLS Provider. – MRED, LLC
All you need to do is take a look at the pressroom of MRED, LLC to see the transformation happening at MRED.

4. Top MLS Vendor – TIED: LPS and CoreLogic.
My basis for this was the CIVIX lawsuit. While I believe NAR painted themselves in to a corner with the settlement it was these two MLS vendors who stepped up and wrote the really big checks.

5. Top Real Estate Portal – Zillow
Their spectacular IPO and recent acquisition of Diverse Solutions only shows they are here to stay and poised to dominate.

6. Best new real estate vendor. – Goomzee
I’ve had many discussions with their CEO, Mike Sparr, and he is one of the new players that “gets it”.

7. Top company to watch – RED -Real Estate Digital
After a bold management buy-out, these guys are just getting started.

8. Most improved company – Inman News
The conferences are better, their site is better, Agent Reboot, InmanNext, the list goes on and on. Tim, Alice, Chris, and Katie and the rest of the team has done a spectacular job and can’t wait to see what’s next.

9. Best industry blog – 1000watt Blog
If I can’t pick VendorAlley.com then 1000watt Consulting gets my vote. Brian, Marc and Joel, offer equal doses of spot on analysis and inspiration all wrapped up in a beautifully atheistic and great writing.

10 Best company blog – RPR
While I have been known to poke some fun at these guys you can’t argue what a great job they do with their blog. One small quibble, I can’t view videos on my iPad.

11. Top MLS Provider CEO – Art Carter
Art Carter turned the fiasco that was California Association of REALTORS failed state-wide MLS effort (calREDD) into in the the largest MLS in country. I don’t think he’s done yet.

12. Best Industry Conference. – CMLS
Like with all my picks I’m a little biased but CMLS’ annual conference keeps getting bigger and better.

13. Best Real Estate Franchise – Keller Williams.
Sure their consumer facing website sucks but in the world of real estate franchisors its all about agent count and these guys are winning.

Well that’s it. Am I a “kiss ass”, “spot on”, “not even close”? What say you?

VHT acquires Dwellicious.

Some of you may have heard about this already. You can read about it on TechCrunch today.

It was a tough decision to sell Dwellicious, it was the first app we created to launch our new company, W&R Studios. But the guys at VHT are great and we think they are the right fit to take Dwellicious to the next level.

Full Press Release is below:

Enhancement of VHT ImageWorks Platform Provides Brokers with Popular Customer Engagement App

ROSEMONT, Ill., July 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — VHT Inc., a leading provider of technology and services for marketing real estate online, today announced it has acquired Dwellicious, the leading social bookmarking site for real estate buyers, from W&R Studios. Dwellicious is being integrated into the VHT ImageWorks online marketing platform to provide brokerage clients with a valuable tool for communicating with home buyers.
Under the agreement, VHT has acquired the Dwellicious technology, website and clients. Purchase price was not disclosed.  

Dwellicious, a finalist in the 2009 Inman Innovator Awards, uses the power of social bookmarking to help home buyers share their favorite properties on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites. Buyers can organize, monitor and compare listings, make notes, add tags, and share and discuss properties with friends, family and real estate professionals.

“Today, more than 90 percent of home buyers are searching properties on the Internet and they’re using multiple websites in the search process,” said Alex Zoghlin, CEO, VHT. “It’s impossible for brokers to track all the properties their clients are interested in without a confusing trail of emails and faxes.”
“Dwellicious is a clever, simple solution to this dilemma. As a result of the acquisition, we’re able to make this powerful application seamlessly available to brokerages that use VHT’s ImageWorks platform at a significantly reduced cost so their agents can develop stronger, more engaged relationships with home buyers,” Zoghlin said.
VHT ImageWorks is a comprehensive and automated marketing platform used by industry-leading brokerages and more than 100,000 real estate professionals across the country. It’s the first online marketing platform with a proven track record of producing measurable results by significantly improving brokers’ search engine-generated traffic and sales conversion rates.

“With VHT ImageWorks, brokerages can attract more buyers to their websites and take advantage of powerful tools such as Dwellicious to share real estate information online and educate buyers throughout the process of searching for their dream homes,” Zoghlin said. “And buyers, in turn, have an easy way to keep brokers updated about their thoughts and preferences.”  
The integration of Dwellicious is the first of many planned enhancements to VHT ImageWorks designed to provide smarter Internet tools for top real estate professionals and help them win the online battle for home buyers.
Located in Huntington Beach, California, W&R Studios is a privately-held web software company.

About VHT, Inc.
VHT is a leading provider of technology and services to brokerages nationwide for marketing real estate online. Since 1998, VHT has been providing professional production, management and distribution of visual assets– including photographs, video, multimedia tours and Video on Demand television spots – for more than $1.5 billion in properties for 3,500 client companies and more than 100,000 real estate professionals. VHT ImageWorks is the first turnkey marketing platform developed to position brokers as the original source of listings information on the web, while increasing brokers’ online traffic and conversion rates. Venture-backed VHT is based in Rosemont, IL.


Homes.com adds Bing Maps 7

Dominion EnterprisesHome Media Solutions announced a “Home Value Channel”, you can check out the press release at the bottom of this post. But what I was really impressed by was the implementation of Microsoft’s Bing Maps 7. Check this out, super sexy!

Full Press Release Below:
Homes.com Launches Home Values Channel

NORFOLK, Va., May 23, 2011—Homes.com, anchor website for Homes Media Solutions and a division of Dominion Enterprises, announced today the launch of its new Home Values channel. Designed to serve as the first step for consumers seeking more information about a home’s market value, the channel’s innovative tools provide a wealth of property information to help educate consumers on local market conditions.

Home Values gives users highly accurate estimates of property values based on a proprietary, automated valuation model from SmartZip Analytics, Inc. It has valuable information about the property, including estimated value over time, last sold date and price, and a mortgage estimate. Home Values also delivers information on nearby homes for sale and recently sold properties.

Homes.com is the first major real estate search site to utilize Bing Maps 7, the latest in mapping technology.   Using three different perspectives, including the closest bird’s eye view in the industry, Home Values offers users a clear, crisp and easy-to-navigate view of the neighborhood they are searching, both on the web and on Homes.com mobile.

“The new Home Values channel on Homes.com is an industry-leading set of home valuation tools that meets the information demands of consumers. It connects millions of consumers with local real estate professionals who have the market insight to supply an even more precise value estimate for a property,” said Jason Doyle, vice president of Homes.com. Doyle added, “The launch of Home Values and the unveiling of our new brand are the first of many upcoming developments at Homes.com designed to connect more consumers visiting Homes.com with our preferred local professionals.”

“Millions of home owners, buyers and investors look to Homes.com as a trusted resource for their real estate research,” noted Tom Glassanos, president and CEO of SmartZip Analytics. “We are excited to partner with Homes.com to bring them our objective assessment of fair market values on over 75 million homes across the U.S.”
Multimedia – Download screenshots of Homes.com’s Home Values by clicking here.

About Homes Media Solutions
Homes Media Solutions is a leading provider of marketing and media services for real estate professionals, including brand advertising, property listing exposure and syndication, website design, search engine marketing, hosting and data management services and instant response lead generation. Through its flagship brand Homes.com, which reaches over 6 million visitors monthly, as well as AgentAdvantage, Advanced Access, eNeighborhoods and NUMBER1EXPERT®, Homes Media Solutions connects real estate professionals with active homebuyers and sellers. Headquartered in Norfolk, Va., Homes Media Solutions is a division of Dominion Enterprises. For more information, visit www.Homes.com.

About SmartZip Analytics, Inc.        
SmartZip Analytics is a leader in real estate analytics, helping banks, real estate professionals and consumers make smart decisions about real estate. Backed by Intel Capital and adopted by leading real estate websites and businesses, SmartZip’s products offer valuable insight about pricing, investment quality, risk, desirability and likelihood to sell. SmartZip home values, ratings and analysis are available for over 75 million homes in 56,000 U.S. neighborhoods.  SmartZip is a privately held corporation headquartered in Pleasanton, California, and can be found on the web atwww.smartzip.com.

Sponsored By Paragon Connect