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Friday Flash: Privacy, the IDX headlock and a VOW that wows

First, a couple things that went down while I was at Inman last week, lost in a blur of meetings, cab rides and pastrami…

Trulia launched Trulia Insight, a product that delivers behavioral data on leads to agents. It’s an add-on to their main Trulia Pro subscription ad product.

This sort of lead scoring is not new (Point2 released a similar product years ago, and many IDX solutions offer a window into user actions), but the execution is excellent here and the product is national from day one.

Anyway, a few observations:

  • If I were a broker, I’d be on the phone now asking my tech vendor why I didn’t have this in 2002.
  • This is just the tip of the iceberg. Trulia is mining its own data here, but imagine when user behavior on other sites (yes, that’s trackable), Facebook actions and other signals from the wider web are in the mix…
  • Which leads to questions of privacy, a big issue that has yet to generate significant heat within real estate. The folks over at Buyfolio have something to say about that.

Move, Inc. launched the Real Estate Network (REN).

Bottom line:

Brokers can now choose to syndicate their listings to big franchise sites through ListHub. Or they can choose not to.

I think Greg’s take is right on, but don’t think REN alone is going to be a game changer.

The larger and still-evolving struggle to escape the IDX headlock without destroying its cooperative underpinnings will be, over time.

Stay tuned.

Facebook announced 60 new apps that integrate with its new Timeline layout. They record events in your life – from what you gave to charity to how far you jogged today.

Who will be in the mix first with the “Bought my home” play? What will be done with the resulting data?

Did I mention privacy and listings policy?

TheRedPin, a Toronto-based brokerage that launched in 2010 with a focus on the condo and new construction markets, released a full-on VOW.

Forget for a moment that they offer a buyer rebate, have agents on salary and even have a name pretty close to Redfin. Go to school on this VOW implementation. It’s the best I’ve seen.

A friend pointed me to TrunkClub this week. This company provides men with personal shopping at a distance. You submit a profile and your sizes and TrunkClub delivers a hand-selected “trunk” of clothing to your doorstep. You pay for what you keep and send back the rest. Shipping is free.

Services in this vein are sprouting up all over the place, and it makes me think both of Marc’s post describing the rise of consumer-to-consumer commerce and Joel’s write-up of Louis CK’s obliteration of the media value chain.

Are we headed, after 15 years, to a reality where consumers do their own deals and agents are reduced to something like a hotel concierge/notary hybrid? Will the slumbering beast of disintermediation finally rise?

I don’t know, of course. But the ground under the real estate business model as we have known it is feeling more unsettled to me right now than it has at any point in my 15 years around this industry.

We tend to work with brokerages – all of them quite “traditional” – that feel this too and are working to account for it. Their foresight secures their future. But most remain unattuned to this reality.

That’s scary.

Zillow released Neighborhood Advice, a Facebook integration that shows home shoppers which of their friends (if any) live within, or have checked-in around, the area in which they are searching. The idea being that those local connections can provide trusted advice.

It’s a good idea, and one I expect to see pop up on other sites soon.

I look at everything above and am struck by how it ties together. Listings policy, data, privacy, social commerce, challenges to incumbent business models… it’s a powerful mix of forces that will make 2012 a year to remember.

Thanks for reading!

[Disclosure: Move, Inc. is a 1000watt Consulting client]

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14 Responses to “Friday Flash: Privacy, the IDX headlock and a VOW that wows”

  1. Alon Chaver says:

    Thanks for writing Brian!

    While I agree with your assessment that 2012 will be a year to remember, I believe the changes will be driven as much by the sea change at the local level as by the “tectonic” shifts of the continental plates under our collective feet.

    The counter force to “how [your list of astute observations about] everything ties together” is localization.

    Global behavioral data, national syndication between international franchisors and publishers, and embedded virtual assistants tracking your every thought and action are powerful trends.

    But local community values and business norms, referrals and reciprocity between local real estate professionals who trust each other to do the right thing by their customers and communities, and personal relationships between local experts and local folks, drive long lasting changes.

    So long as we end up in the same place (doing a better job helping people find the right homes to live), its all good.

    – Alon

    • Drew Meyers - ESM Exec Designs says:

      Even if that’s true, there is still no way a broker can compete with Z/T in design/development area. Even for a brokerage like Good Life Team or M Squared (which both have awesome websites) — web dev/design is not their core competency.

    • Marta Walsh says:

      Some brokers make a lot of money.

      Zillow and Trulia only lose money so far.

      Some very smart investors think it’s worth pouring millions of dollars in to them to carry on the land grab by hiring tons of talented developers.

      Brokerages should be hiring developers. If web development is not in your core competency and you are in real estate you are a blockbuster store wondering what all those funny red boxes popping up all over the place are.

    • Marta Walsh says:

      I am thinking forward a few years. I don’t see any brokers existing in 10 years time that their single thing they do best is not being an Internet company.

      My point is exactly yours in some ways. You say it’s not in their DNA. I say if you want to survive it has to be your DNA.

      Sure traditional brokers can make money for another 5 years. 10 years no.

      Option is throw money at this now or die.

  2. Jim Bilbao says:

    In 2012 real estate hosted services of many types, focus, value add will continue to emerge. The industry race is data consolidation and hosted service monetization. Agent will increasingly navigate data and orchestrate hosted service.

  3. Rokham Fard says:

    Hi Brian,

    Thank you for your kind words about TheRedPin.com’s launch of MLS listings. We’re really excited about this launch and what you currently see is just the beginning of what we have in mind.

    There are a lot of great things we can do to help the buyers and investors make better decisions when it comes to buying a home and we’re working on them.

    We’ll keep you posted with our updates.

  4. Sheldon Goldberg says:

    Definitely a very interesting topic. Trying to keep up with Z/T is tough. Our website has close to the same features and some they don’t have. We have our own home value calculator that is usually more accurate than Z. Also, we have most of the features of Listingbook, and some they don’t have. We have a map search that is better than theirs.

    Of course, we only have real time data for 20 counties in Florida. Getting the whole country into your database and keeping it updated is expensive – to say the least.

    One of the main problems now is Google’s Panda update, that favors very large sites. We also have http://www.ClearwaterDreaming.com which is similar to our main site. It was #1 for years on Google, Yahoo and Bing for “clearwater real estate.” Though it is still #1 on Bing and Yahoo, it dropped to #7, behind some national sites.

    So, even if you can close to keeping up with Z/T on website features, it is hard to get the same love from Google.

  5. Luke Fredley says:

    Its really a useful information for who worried about their data protection. hope you missed to review iDrive, carbonite and SOS online backup in this list.

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