Friday Flash: Jeez Louise

NAR has announced that it will spend $10-$11 million each year “in perpetuity” to make an already widely-adopted product offered by a company in which it owns a 40% stake available to its members for free.

The rationale offered by Dale Stinton, NAR’s CEO? This deal was done “to keep our members at the center of the transaction.”

In other news, I just took out a second mortgage on my own home in order to set up an Airbnb business in which I rent out my bedroom to myself “for free.”

In all seriousness, this move reflects some pretty fuzzy thinking and seems to be a hasty response to the perceived threat/opportunity created by Zillow’s acquisition of Dotloop. I was hoping for a major overhaul of the Ziplogix product suite, not an expensive marketing deal that uses member dues to stifle competition in this space.

I also wonder: Are the Realtors that prefer Dotloop or Instanet or Skyslope somehow not at the center of the transactions they do?

Jeez Louise.

Last Friday I wrote that messaging in real estate apps was a big opportunity. This week Homesnap released Homesnap Messages. Cool stuff.

Our client Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, the nation’s fourth-largest brokerage, has launched a new website that reflects its bold, big thinking, brand-forward mojo.

There are many things I like about the site, but I am especially excited by a new seller-focused feature because, if you’ve been reading us lately, you know we’re big on seller leads, messaging and tools.

Here’s how it works:

First, you are presented with this call to action on the home page (this feature is desktop at launch, soon to be added to mobile):

Hanna market

Once you enter your address and hit “GO”, you are taken to a page like this.

At-a-glance market metrics, two value estimates, a map displaying recent sale prices and active listings around your home and, then – most importantly – a strong call to action to connect with a local Howard Hanna agent who can help you take the next step.

Howard Hanna already dominates many of the markets in which it operates, but can more sellers leads ever be a bad thing?

Surefield, a tech-powered discount brokerage in Seattle, released a tool called Pricepoint that enables consumers to create their own CMAs.

Surefield claims that Pricepoint “gives consumers better tools than the pros use to help refine and calculate the home price,” a boast that seems to beg the obvious reply that what is missing from their tech, however marvelous, is the pro.

I’m not sure consumers are interested in doing this sort of analysis on their own anyway. Redfin released a similar home value tool in 2014 and placed it front and center in the seller section of its website. Today, it is buried deep in their listing detail pages and sellers are funnelled directly towards Redfin agents, not the tech. Most people, I think, are going to want a lighter experience. The Zestimate is light. The Howard Hanna feature I mention above is light. Anything else is work.

Big picture: Venture-backed companies like Redfin, Surefield and Compass build great technology, but it is unclear whether they can become great real estate companies. Perhaps they, like ZipRealty, will end up being digested by the “traditional” industry they originally positioned against.

Or… not. Only time will tell.

Enjoy the weekend.