Friday Flash: Looking around

Airbnb, the online real estate company that gets too little attention from our industry, is a treasure trove of inspiration.

Consider their “become a host page”. What if the screens agents used to upload listings were designed like this?

airbnb image

Open, simple, with helpful copy. A pleasure to use. Do you think something like this would improve the sorry presentation of most real estate listings?

I do.

Notice, too, the message presented to me before I enter anything: “In a week, hosts sharing their entire place in Oakland are earning $506.” So smart. Would it be cool if I got a message that said “Homes like yours are currently selling for about $939,000” when I logged into a home search site?

I think it would.

Even the businesses that have sprung up around Airbnb are interesting.Take Beyond Pricing, which optimizes and updates pricing for hosts automatically based on a smart algorithm. It takes two clicks to set up.

It’s good to look around sometimes.

Zillow bought Bridge Interactive Group, a three-person company that does intense MLS stuff most of the industry doesn’t understand.  

That’s too bad, because what Bridge does is more material to the industry than all the other lead-gen, “future of home search” hoo-ha (Do we have a problem finding homes? Have they been hiding from buyers?) bouncing around the buzz machine.

1000WATT had the opportunity to work with the Bridge team about a year ago on a small project and came away really respecting them.

My non-MLS geek understanding is that Bridge:

  • Provides a way for MLSs to send their listings to other places (portals, vendors) that is more timely, controlled and manageable than third-party systems like Listhub or “direct” distribution deals like those MLSs have inked with Zillow in the past 18 months. By acquiring Bridge, Zillow co-opts – indeed, now controls – a technology that was gaining traction as an alternative to feeding data to Zillow directly, without an MLS-controlled server.
  • Makes getting data into MLS systems easier by offering an “add/edit” product, which is  basically the form people use to enter listings, or change them once in. This sounds really simple, but it’s not. You might think of the add/edit function as a keyhole on the door of the MLS that requires a matching key for entry. Each MLS has a unique keyhole and key. Oh, and they all change over time. Ugh.
  • Enables the entry of data into an MLS from anywhere. Like an alternative MLS front-end. Or a third party app. Or pretty much anywhere. This is possible because of something called RETS Update, which enables MLS data to be changed in one place and many others in near real time.

In case you haven’t noticed, how real estate data moves around is kind of important. Bridge is all about this, and has talent and MLS relationships to boot. So Zillow scooped them up. Seems smart to me.

Bridge, as part of Zillow, does seem to drift into Upstream’s lane a bit. They’re different things, yes, but maybe that’s the point. Bridge allows MLSs and agents to manage data more flexibly; Upstream proposes to do the same for brokers.

Zillow has to plan for the possibility that Upstream becomes a big thing even if they think that’s unlikely. It’s hard to imagine this didn’t play at least some part in this acquisition.

It’s usually the complicated stuff that’s most important. This is some of that stuff.

I am going to be speaking at Inman’s Luxury Connect event in October about a new luxe brand project we’ve been working on. I look forward to sharing more.

And the event… holy cow, I can’t wait. It’s at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Join me for a pretend power lunch in the Polo Lounge?

Enjoy the weekend.