Estately announces profitability, raises interesting questions

Galen Ward, co-founder and CEO of Estately, just emailed me to say his company had a profitable third quarter. We’ll see where this heads, but it’s clear the company is doing enough business to run a great Website and support a small staff. I am glad they’re making a go of it.

Galen offers details in a Kelman-esque post on the Estately Blog.

Indeed, I have long thought of Estately as something akin to “Redfin Lite” – a killer search interface and tons of information, but minus the burden of an agent payroll. Of course, Redfin would likely argue that they deliver a better, more consistent customer experience. But then they also went the network/referall partner route earlier this year. And Estately claims to have great agents and high customer satisfaction.

Go figure.

I am also really interested in businesses like Estately (I would place Sawbuck Realty and Movoto in this category as well, among others) because they are potentially quite disruptive. They are licensed brokerages but generally hand off the leads, and the work, to local partners. You see who’s missing: The “traditional” brokerage the agent partner likely still works for. It’s as if a shiny, Web-savvier coating has been placed on the real estate value chain – one that obscures the broker with the office full of cubes.

Lastly, I think Estately and its counterparts offer a peek at the future of online real estate. They are not delivering impressions or traffic or even straight Web leads like most in the category right now. Rather, they connect a specific consumer that has taken a specific action on a specific property with an agent with whom they have an ongoing relationship. Whether this scales has yet to be seen, but we’re going to see more in this vein. Most brokers need more traffic like America needs more Lindsay Lohan.

Anyway, congrats to Estately!