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Homesnap + Broker Public Portal

homesnap-logoI saw the news that Homesnap and Broker Public Portal formed an equally owned joint venture.

(click here for prior writing on Broker Public Portal)

A few things…

First, I’m still unclear EXACTLY what the goal of Broker Public Portal is?

Second, is the new joint venture a FOR PROFIT initiative?

Third, I ask again — why exactly will a consumer care about BPP/Homesnap?

Fourth, consider the following:

“HAR.com and a number of other MLSs have been able to capture a reasonable share of voice in online consumer search,” said Rebecca Jensen, President and CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED). “But we believe that the best opportunity for success will be paved by MLSs who focus on a single, national strategy.”

As Bryn has mentioned in prior comments and this blog post, public facing MLS websites are competing against its own members for traffic. Broker Public Portal is a consumer facing portal — and thus in the same situation of competing against its own members. There are not more buyers secretly lurking that a new portal will magically attract; buyers are all already using a website or mobile app to search for homes for sale. Thus, if BPP/Homesnap attracts traffic — someone is losing traffic. That someone is more than likely high producing agents/brokers who invest in their web presence and online marketing.

The point I’m getting at is broker public portal seems to be a strategy to help distribute traffic/leads to the bottom 90% of agents — who are likely doing near zero online marketing now. That helps with membership dues by (hopefully) decreasing agents leaving the business entirely — which of course is where an MLS’ revenue comes from — but it doesn’t help raise the bar in the industry.

Comments are welcome below…

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Product & Marketing for 360modern. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • I know you and Sam hate the idea of membership surveys, but to me this is an example of where a survey would be useful.

    The question would be do members want a Broker Public Portal?

    I know the largest Brokers in my market spend millions on their website. If given the chance, I believe their huge pool of agents would say no thanks, they would rather have people go to their Broker’s website where so the Broker can feed them the leads. The mid sized Brokers also spend a lot of time and money on their website, as do the active teams and agents.

    I suppose there are some part time agents working for small Brokers that get nothing from their website and would prefer to pull leads away from those that do.

    This is all speculation. The only way to know for sure what the members really want is to ask them via a survey.

    You make a good point, is this really raising the bar for our industry, or simply a way to get leads to the bottom agents.

    • If the assumption is it benefits the 80%-90% that don’t do the majority of the deals (or make the ad/marketing spend), I would guess a survey would say they do want it.
      The broker public portal is an investment, I assume they have to get board approval for that. So members should elect a new board if they disagree with decisions being made.

      • Drew, your figures are just a guess. My guess is 10% instead of your 90%. Only way to know is to survey.

        The problem is the board is making decisions in a vacuum. They have no idea what members want. The same with NAR.

        In government, my representatives are constantly asking for feedback and doing surveys on specific issues. They understand it is important to understand what their constituents want and how they feel.

        This Inman article is accurate on a lot of NAR issues.

        https://www.inman.com/2017/01/19/an-open-letter-to-the-new-ceo-of-nar/

        As he states in the article “I ask that you conduct some open-minded polling of your members.”.

        • “My guess is 10% instead of your 90%.”

          My assumption is 20% of the industry does 80% of the deals — and broker public portal benefits the 80% that only do 20% of the deals. So if you survey all members, and 80% of them would likely receive more benefit than harm — why would you assume a poll would favor not supporting broker public portal.

          Keep in mind, BPP does not need the MLS’ support. It’s brokers supporting it. So there’s no reason for an MLS to survey it’s members about it, though brokers could/should survey their own agents before backing it.

          • My assumption is the only agents that will want it are agents that have no website presence through their Broker or on their own.

            The 80/20 rule is true, but if you take a large broker, it is the 80% of their agents who do very few deals who might be getting their only business from the Broker’s website. If they only do 2 or 3 deals, and those deals come from leads from the Broker’s website, they would not want to lose those deals.

            I also assume these Brokers who spend millions on their website are constantly promoting how valuable their website is to every agent within the company. So they are going to be pushing hard to keep as many leads coming to their website as possible.

            By the way, I speak from experience on this. When I just started my only business came from Coldwell Banker’s website. So I was just doing my first few deals. At that time, if you took that website away from me, or drove those few leads I got to a BPP website, I would not have made it in this business.

          • Hmm
            “MRED is one of several MLSs whose board of directors have already authorized participation in the portal, including a $1 per subscriber fee that will be paid to the National Broker Portal each month. Other MLSs committed to the portal include Northstar MLS (Minneapolis), Connecticut MLS, NORMLS (Cleveland), CRIS (Akron), Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors and Rochester Genesee Region Real Estate Service. In anticipation of this initiative being formalized, MRED launched the BPP/Homesnap app in July of 2016. “Adoption has reached over 25% of MRED’s 40,000+ Realtor customers in just a few months,” added Jensen. In addition, now that the joint venture has been finalized, MLSs representing over 200,000 subscribers have requested the new National Broker Portal MLS Agreement to review and present to their boards.”

            It looks like I didn’t read that closely enough, MLS’ are participating in the BPP.

            Seems the strategy is to split the technology (and marketing) expense among a much larger group of agents/brokers.

            I still have no heard from anyone — what does “success” look like for BPP? How will anyone measure whether this is a good investment or not?

          • Success for BPP in my market means they come out with such a fantastic website that everyone wants to use it.

            This in turn takes away 90% of the leads from my website, so I am looking for a new career.

            I hope this is not the case, but obviously the more leads BPP takes from agent’s websites the more successful they are.

            Success for BPP will be measured by the amount of leads that actually use their site.

  • I continue to feel that the BPP is nothing more than added competition for brokerages (and to some degree agents) who already have an online presence. I have yet to get from anyone a really good explanation as to how it is not. However, if an MLS and the broker members, had the courage to NOT to syndicate their listings, then an argument for a strong MLS consumer facing website might make sense – and be a way from members to actually control their own businesses, and thus their futures.

    I don’t really understand why large brokerages (regional, national, franchise) spend large amounts on their websites, yet continue to support portals. As mentioned in this article and many others, there are only only some many buyers and only so many homes being sold.

    Additionally, ZTR is not “providing” brokerages and agents with any tools that they cannot get anywhere else, or simply cannot live without. Under the guise of providing this software they are simply trying to long term be the only player in the game. From their perspective that makes sense, but is that really in our (brokerages) best interest?

    • I would really love a broker who is part of BPP to thoroughly explain their “why”.

  • Good thoughts, guys. My response is going to be too long for the comments. I’ll follow up here shortly.

  • rolandestrada

    LOL. I find the handwringing over BPP hilarious. Do some field research and call some of the agents on HAR’s site. They are running what BPP would be on a regional level. I made calls to some agents that had listings on the HAR site when BPP came on the scene. The agents I spoke to love it. It’s a member benefit.

    Let’s say you are an agent that spends money and effort on a website. Are seriously telling me that if you get leads from BPP you’re going to be upset?! Every lead from your listing or listings on BPP goes to you, no one else will get leads form your listings on BPP.

    If anything, the success of BPP would mean agents and brokers can spend less on their on their web presence if they choose to, or not. Regardless, if you have listings, you will be getting those exclusive leads from BPP.

    If brokers and agents can spend a little less on their web presence, they can then allocate those dollars on better overall tech to cultivate the leads coming in from BPP. The leads from BPP will come in to you whether or not you have a website. Take advantage of that instead endlessly carping about whether your precious career is coming to an end. For god’s sake, get a grip.

    Or you can continue carping. I can use the entertainment.

    • Roland, I agree with you. Too much carping when there is no need. Sometimes I wonder if we spend too much energy on things we can’t change, vs. investing more energy in things we can.

      And now I get back to my real job, LOL.

      • rolandestrada

        LOL. Touché. Actually one of the technologies that I mentioned just rolled out last week. W+R rolled out Cloud Attract. They are pretty reasonable landing pages for use on FB and the web. I was spending $500 per month last year on Bold Leads. So at $99 it’s rather palatable. They have a code for that price for a limited time. “Sky”.

    • From a listing agent perspective — sure, who cares? More exposure for your listings is fine/good and you get the leads. We agree on that side of things.

      But from a buyer’s agent perspective (the vast majority of the industry), how exactly will BPP help you? BPP is not going to send buyers brokerages leads, correct? (except from consumers THEY send there in the first place). Brokerages on the buy side are investing heavily to attract online traffic/leads. BPP is another competitor to deal with.

      HAR in one market is a very, very different beast than one website, which is trying to do the same thing HAR has done across 700+ geographies.

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