Milestones: HomeGain is ten years old and going strong

Late one evening in 1998, I received a phone call from Brad Inman. At that time, his name did not ring a bell.

Just a year earlier, my new firm Access Media Group had stepped into his space of real estate syndication and amassed distribution to a client list of over 200 newspapers. I  knew little of online real estate.  But I understood the Web, distribution, sales, the value of content and how to market it.

I had popped up on the real estate radar.

The next day I talked with Brian Boero, who explained that Brad was taking a leave of absence from Inman News to launch a company called HomeGain. Inman needed help marketing its syndication business – both to newspapers and the burgeoning online real estate category.

HomeGain launched in 1999. And I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite understand why consumers needed a website to find local agents. And I seriously questioned the logic of its business model. But that was then.

So take a moment now, stand at the gates of online real estate’s cemetery, and gaze out at the acres of tombstones that define the landscape. Epitaphs document hundreds upon hundreds of big ideas and crazy ideas that launched, burned capital and died.

Most are all but forgotten. This past Sunday HomeGain turned ten years old. I got nostalgic.

Led by Louis Cammarosano, who joined HomeGain in 2005 as General Counsel, was promoted to COO in late 2005 and to GM in 2006, HomeGain is still a force to be reckoned with.

They claim:

  • 5,000+ paying customers (agents and brokers)
  • 4-5 million uniques a month
  • Tens of millions in annual revenue (actual number is not reported)

In a world that tends to focus on trendy ideas rather than concrete business models, and within an industry that continues to lag behind in creating innovation that matters, the HomeGain model is largely as it has always been: A solid business that delivers substantial benefit to its customers and end users.

Consider the 50,000+ transactions representing close to $10 billion in home sales over the past ten years.

Consider the 800+ agents that have earned over $50K from HomeGain’s Agent evaluator program.

Consider how two of their customers have reaped over a million dollars in gross commissions each, earned from Agent Evaluator. Alan Shafran hit the $1 million mark last month.

Brokers like Mitch Ribak swear by HomeGain. “I am on target to close another 350 homes this year using HomeGain’s Buyerlink,” Ribak told me in a discussion we had a few weeks back. “It’s responsible for 95% of the leads I now generate and the customers I end up servicing.”

Mitch is not alone.

HomeGain has also extended its footprint across social media and manages a well-done company blog.

And of course there’s Max the Gorilla, Homegain’s furry mascot, who has seen more real estate action than any other primate on the planet.

photo“There’s more coming in 09,” Max explained as he joined me for breakfast by the pool this morning.

“We’re focused on customer and employee satisfaction. And we’re going to continue surveying our customers, amassing feedback and providing them with a national Home Values survey next month.”

“HomeGain will also add new features to our home value and Find a Realtor products in the very near future,” Max continued.

“But what really has me swinging from the trees is the planned creation and expansion of Max products to Mini Maxes and Max bobbleheads. Max Mobiles hit the road next week. I only wish grandpa Magilla were still here to see how I’ve kept the family legacy of branding a media company alive and well. And if the folks at Hanna-Barbera are reading this, I have a sitcom I’d love to pitch them.”

Ten years. The importance of this milestone is not lost on me. Had Brad not started HomeGain, I’d most likely be doing something different with my life. I would have never ended up meeting Brian and working with all the folks who have made these last ten years so rewarding. In this big space of hype, PR and slight of hand, this is a company that endures.

Happy birthday HomeGain. Here’s to another ten. Cheers.

Davison Twitter: 1000wattmarc