Friday Flash: Scratching real estate's soft underbelly

Can a human being have 10 meetings, attend 3 parties and consume a late dinner in a New York City steakhouse, all in a single day, without emerging hoarse and hungover?

I am going to find out. Next week is Inman Connect NYC.

If you’re interested in the future of real estate, you gotta be there. If you show up, ping me. I’ll sport you an Altoid and a 5-Hour Energy!

Google breached the surface of real estate this week with a consumer study conducted in cooperation with NAR.

It’s worth a read.

For the most part, we forget that Google is interested in real estate. Things like this remind us.

A few years ago, the company launched Google Base, a classifieds site to which a bunch of brokers and MLSs fed listings, and added a “real estate” layer to Google Maps. Those things went away.

Then they built what was basically a real estate search engine in Australia. That went away too.

While I have always thought a sustained real estate-specific play wasn’t in the cards for Google, what this company does nonetheless conditions a lot of what will and will not happen in online real estate. Stay alert!

RoomHunt launched this week. It’s a new rental search site. This category has been very interesting lately. Lots of activity and innovation.

Two cool things about RoomHunt:

First, the UI is super clean. The home page is the search results page. Clicks are minimized. And it looks and works great on a tablet:

roomhunt-home

Second, this site won’t just find you a place, it will find you a roommate too. When I login through Facebook I can click a “Find roommates” button on any listing and get a list of folks looking for the same thing. Doing this also asks my own Facebook friend for help finding the right person.

Slick and, of course, a little creepy. But today’s creepy is tomorrow’s habit. I think we have just scratched the surface of social integrations with real estate search.

find-roommate

Live webcams have been around for a long time. For traffic. For a herky-jerky view of some famous square across the world. Even for peeking in on two guys scarfing a 10-pound burrito in a rundown Vegas casino.

But what if they were everywhere? That’s what Koozoo is going after (be sure to watch the video on their site). Take your old iPhone, point it outward and stream what it sees out to the world.

I don’t know if this company will make it, but I do think this sort of thing – peeking into places before you go there – will become commonplace. And it will certainly be part of a home buyer’s search process.

Yes, we can see property photos. We can see what’s across the street with Street View. We can sometimes find a video profile of a neighborhood. But we can’t see what’s happening now unless we hop in the car and go there. Yet.

Interesting to think about.

A guy named Jim Lesinsky called me this week to tell me about his new service, BuyerCurious, which enables people to write and submit bona fide offers without an agent.

It’s serious technology, and seems to play within the legal lines.

The buy side of the transaction is the real estate establishment’s soft underbelly, and has been the playground of innovators for 15 years. Yet large-scale disruption has yet to take hold.

In this area specifically – making an offer – players from HomeBid, which raised $30 million in the late ‘90s, to N-Play, which offered a broker-friendly offer bid and management plugin a few years back, have yet to eliminate buyer’s agents.

But people won’t stop trying. So if I were a broker, I’d be engaging every one of them.

That’s it. Enjoy the weekend!

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