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Potential Strategies for Realtor.com

realtor-dot-com-logoWe know an amazing team is paramount to Realtor.com somehow figuring out how to overtake Zillow and Trulia.

But what possible strategic product/business approaches could Realtor.com take?

What is not the winning strategy?

  • Winning with a “cool” factor.
  • Pounding on the “data freshness” (updates every 15 minutes) angle. I really don’t think the common buyer cares about getting updates every 15 minutes, but maybe that’s me.
  • Adding FSBOs & distressed properties.

What are some angles worth exploring?

  • Capitalized on “History of a Home” concept – I was talking with an entrepreneur last week who mentioned that a Facebook for homes would be interesting to him. I happen to have written a post about this exact topic over a year ago — and it could be a home run opportunity, IF done right.
  • KILL it in the moving category.
  • Take the long view and build a product offering for college kids to get them interested in real estate ahead of when they actually think about buying or renting.
  • A video portal.
  • A Buyfolio-esque offering (Buyfolio really was a good pick up by Zillow)
  • Partner with Google — heavily.
  • Build something completely new every buyer or seller needs to make a transaction seamless.
  • Build something new every agent in the country needs daily, but they just don’t know it yet.

Or — and I don’t think this would ever happen — but, commit to making zero money for 2 years off Realtor.com, and building everything with a consumer first mindset. Become the go-to source for real estate information for those that don’t want to look at ANY ads. Then figure out a new monetization strategy way down the line.

What do you think the winning strategy entails? How would you go about beating Z/T?

PS: We’ve started a series titled “Meet the Real Estate Tech Entrepreneur” — for the founders of real estate tech companies reading this who want to be profiled, please shoot me an email at drew at ohheyworld dot com.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • I’ll disagree with one and totally agree with two.

    Data freshness is paramount in today’s market. Buyers are climbing over each other to get to the new listings in some markets as we have less than one month of inventory. That may recede when markets shift, but it’s timely right now. If you don’t see a house in the first 2 or 3 days in Seattle’s hot markets, forget about trying to buy it–it’s already been pre-inspected by 3 other buyers with stronger offers.

    More than that, consumers are data hungry. Tell them you get the data first, and you get the most accurate data (which is also still true by leaps and bounds in some markets). Those two messages haven’t yet cut their way through the fluffy shiny objects that are drawing consumers in to other sites. The marketing has to be clearer.

    Your last 2 would be huge. Build something for customers that creates a long-term relationship. It’s not just about search. Monthly updates on a connected basis that don’t require a user to search for them build a loyal base. Zillow and Redfin do a great job of sucking a consumer in with shiny things, and keeping them held close with a regular drip of unique content.

    As for agents, build something free we can’t do without and we’ll be loyal. Realtor.com’s agent-integrated app was a great first try. With a few tweaks, most agents would give it to all of their clients. I would’ve offered it as a direct download on my website to my visitors if it was strongly pre-branded to my company upon download. As agents push a higher-quality product to their clients, that traffic would build organically.

    Doing it for free is a really interesting concept. Build or buy the best transaction management software company. Integrate it with your best CRM and lead management system. Give it away free to Realtors across the country. Watch that loyalty soar. Selling leads to an agent who is already in your system is easier.

  • Todd Carpenter

    The thing is, nobody seems to agree on what winning is. If it’s winning for the consumer, that’s different than winning for the agents. I think data freshness is important, but Zillow was smart to take the ‘comprehensive’ angle to counter it.

    Honestly, I think rentals is where they need to work the hardest. Most of Z&T’s future customer base is coming from rentals. RDC is creating a great mobile experience, but they get that UX in front of consumers them before they are ready to buy.

    • Agree a definition of winning would be helpful.

      Also agree of the importance of rentals. Zillow is putting a lot of time and money into that opportunity.

    • Consumer traffic is winning. More traffic means consumers approve. More consumers means agents approve. SERP rankings and repeat traffic are the goals.

      • it’s going to take them a LONG time to win on traffic…what is their monthly UU count? Z is 50 million plus

        • True, but this is the web. Realtor.com was claiming its dominance over Zillow in views and visits just two years ago. It all changes very quickly.

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