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Entries Tagged as 'Neighboroo'

Redfin Attacks SoCal’s INTx’ers

February 8th, 2007 · 6 Comments

While Glenn Kelman was co-hosting an event in San Francisco with Socketsite, his compadres were putting the finishing touches on a Southern California launch, which, per the embargoed-until-7am-press-release, “increases the number of properties for sale on its site by more than 340 percent.”

Greg Swann has previously pointed out that Redfin’s target markets are high-priced INTx-heavy metro areas — translated, for those of us not familiar with Myers-Briggs personality profiles, as high-priced markets with lots of geeky, web-savvy, technical, analytically-minded people. Why high-priced? Because when you take home only 1% of the purchase price as your commission, you have to sell expensive homes to make it worth your while. Why geeky, web-savvy, and so forth? Because grandpa and grandma, or even mom and dad, definitely ain’t gonna be buying real estate online.

Does SoCal meet those requirements? Let’s see what Neighboroo has to say about housing prices…

Redfin's Expansion

High-priced? Absolutely! Redfin’s Seattle home (1) is but a pin-prick of expensive (red) real estate in a sea of otherwise affordable green. The company’s second market, the Bay Area (2), is a reliable splash of red, as is target (3), southern California.

Alas, Neighborhoo doesn’t yet have a Myers-Briggs mashup available, so we’ll have to do with a rough approximation by looking for, say, well-educated Gen-X and Gen-Y’ers — a certain percentage of which are bound to be INTx’ers.

Seattle’s population is solidly Gen-X… (dark green)… and Gen-Y (again, dark green)…

Seattle's GenX populationSeattle's GenY population

…and college-educated:

Seattle's College Education Level

The Bay Area’s demographics look quite similar:

A heavy sprinking of Gen-X and Gen-Y’ers…

Bay Area Gen-XBay Area Gen-Y

…and all apparently reasonably well schooled:

Bay Area College Education

The greater southern California area looks very similar:

Plenty of Gen-X and Gen-Y’ers:

SoCal Gen-XSoCal GenY

and a generally well-educated populace, though not as reliably dark green as Seattle and the Bay Area:

SoCal College Education

Perhaps the good people from Neighboroo could help us figure out Redfin’s next markets? They’ve publicly talked about Boston, New York, and Chicago, but what about other areas? Austin? Probably not — prices aren’t high enough.

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Tags: Glenn Kelman · Neighboroo · Real estate · Redfin

An embarrassment of riches

December 14th, 2006 · 2 Comments

It just kind of happened this way, but I’ve been fortunate in the last couple of days to meet some of the most interesting folks in online real estate: Marlow Harris (360 Digest), Ardell Dellaloggia (Rain City Guide and Searchingseattle), David Gibbons (Zillow), and Kevin Connor from Docusign. — all of them up in Seattle. Yesterday, back in the Bay Rea, I had the opportunity to meet Travis Chow and Steve Schmidt from Neighboroo, as well as Pete Flint from Trulia.

I have write-ups on both Docusign and Neighboroo in the works, but for now let’s talk about Trulia.

Housed in classic San Francisco start-up open-plan style, Trulia’s ~30 employees definitelyimg_0230-cropped-small.JPG enjoy themselves — except when Pete Flint asks for volunteers to don the Trulia mascot. Can’t say I blame them — it does look rather uncomfortable, and I’d certainly rather be building the next refinement to Trulia’s offerings than humoring a curious visiting real estate blogger!

Trulia is really doing an exceptional job of trying to figure out how to improve the online experience for real estate consumers and how to win over real estate professionals to advertise. The latter is a particularly delicate balancing act, since our industry tends to be leery of technologists who stray onto our turf. Trulia has made nice with Realtors by providing neat tools for FREE such as a Trulia search box, home roll, free data upload feeds, and a Trulia Map. Unlike some aggregators, Trulia has built formal relationships with with many brokers across the country. A testament to Trulia’s Realtor PR is that a number of industry power hitters now sit on a recently-created Trulia advisory board.

Though Trulia concentrates on listings, it does have a fairly comprehensive database of other homes, a la Zillow. Unlike Zillow, however, these homes are not front and center; rather, Trulia’s site displays them only in the context of being near and similar to listings of interest, allowing the consumer to draw his own conclusions about value. Trulia does not appear to have a “T-estimate” up its sleeve.

How can Trulia display sold listings when that’s against the longstanding rules of most MLS’s in the country? (Note: our local MLS, and, I believe, the NWMLS, recently changed that policy.) Simple: Trulia is not a member of any MLS, so it’s not bound by the same silly rules. It gets its listing information from its Realtor partners, and its sold homes data from county records, via a third party.

The flip side of the advantage of not being beholden to MLS laws, however, is not having access to all the listing data…and therein lies Trulia’s “chicken and egg” problem, one common to online real estate sites. Trulia doesn’t — and can’t — have all the listings because it’s not an MLS member, and because it doesn’t have all the listings, it’s not as attractive a destination for consumers…which in turn makes it less attractive for Realtors to partner.

Pete’s response on this is that while MLS’s may have all the listings, “they certainly haven’t won the battle for consumer attention. Because Trulia offers consumers a way to understand real estate trends in a way that others don’t, I’d argue that we’re more of an attractive destination [than the traditional MLS], particularly with 80% of consumers looking online in their search.”

Pete notes, however, that though Trulia only has about 50% of the listings nation-wide that Realtor.com has, its inventory is steadily growing as it attracts more Realtor partners. He also points out that “according to Comscore, we are the fastest growing online real estate site in the US with over 25% month-on-month growth over the last 6 months.” If that growth continues, it may reach a tipping point where it has enough inventory to attract the eyeballs to attract the Realtors to contribute more listings.

Pete and I and product manager Megan Kamil brainstormed about what the ultimate real estate mash-up might look like. I’ll save that discussion for a future post.

Trulians — best of luck to you all, and thanks for having me over!

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Tags: Docusign · Neighboroo · Pete Flint · Real estate · Realtor.com · Travis Chow · Trulia · Zillow

Shackprices launches

December 13th, 2006 · 3 Comments

Last weekend, this Bay Area resident was shocked — shocked!!! — at how affordable homes are in the Seattle area. (This might be scant comfort to those who just moved to Seattle from, say, Boise.) To satisfy my curiosity about just how cheap real estate really is there, I (naturally) poked around a bit on Zillow for a sense of historical home values, but since Zillow’s inventory of actual listed homes is still pretty low, I needed to find an MLS-sourced site as well.

Fortuitously, Galen Ward (frequent Rain City contributor, entrepreneur, and guru on allshackprices.png things real estate-search related) emailed me yesterday to give me a heads-up about his brainchild Shackprices’ launch today. I thought I’d give it a test run; here’s what I found…

The site’s home page is sparse, as it should be. Having a zoomable, draggable, clickable Google-maps based search page is pretty much de rigeur these days, and Shackprices does not disappoint. That feature alone puts it way ahead of most broker and MLS sites, but does nothing to set it apart from, say, Movoto or Redfin.

Shackprices offers a nice intuitive way to refine your search: you can add criteria (like square footage, lot size, or property type) by selecting from a drop-down box, and removing criteria is also intuitive: just click the “x” next to it. Very nice, very Web 2.0.

Clicking on a home icon gives all the expected details — without requiring user registration, showing that Shackprices understands that in the Web 2.0 world, the only way you attract people is by showing that you trust them to come back without holding their email address hostage.

For each shack you examine, you can get suggestions, which show similar, nearby homes. You also get information on nearby recent solds, a clear indication that the NWMLS (of which Shackprices is a member) has finally woken up to the dangers that Zillow presents to those who would hide information as a way of maintaining control. Unfortunately, only a few comps are available per house, perhaps by design, more likely by NWMLS fiat.

Shackprices also provides the expected neighborhood information about nearby schools, parks, and shopping centers. A pleasant surprise was the link-up to Flickr (to show pictures of the area) and to 43places (whose site was unfortunately down). I’ve been dreaming for a while of a real estate/outside.in/neighboroo mashup, and Shackprices goes pretty far in providing that.

Overall, it’s a very pleasant, well-designed, intuitive, and informational site. The bigger question, as always, remains: What is their business model?

At least for now, Shackprices appears to be an agent referral site; though they’re a registered broker, they “do not employ any agents.” They make it clear that they’re not trying to replace agents either — a much-needed caveat in today’s world where agents find the bogeyman of disintermediation in almost anything online.

If they do decide to become a regular brokerage, I wonder whether they’ll have the cool factor (and discount model) to compete with Redfin, or the reach and reputation necessary to succeed as a more traditional broker. Another possibility would be to enter the admittedly crowded agent search web site provider, a la Realbird.
Here is my challenge to Galen and his crew: how about a Zillow mashup that has all solds and all listed properties on the same map? That would definitely take the real estate search wars to the next level!

Tags: Flickr, , , outside.in, , , , Shackprices,

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Tags: Flickr · Movoto · Neighboroo · Real estate · Realbird · Redfin · Shackprices · Zillow · outside.in