Buyers won’t come without them. Sellers won’t come if you don’t have buyers. Buyers pay everyone’s bills.
The elusive listing, the hook every consumer real estate startup must focus on.
If you are focused on one market, just grab an IDX or RETS feed and you’re good to go. To grow and scale, of course, you need to cover more than just one local market. It’s no small task to get nationwide listings (as I’ve written about). You have several options, none of them perfect or cheap…
- Buy listings from ListHub (incomplete dataset at best)
- Merge IDX/MLS data across every market in the country (requires working with 900 MLS’)
- Direct from agents, brokers, and MLS’ (good luck, see you weary & broke in 5 years)
- Scrape them (won’t be appreciated, & certain to damage your reputation in the industry).
There’s a lot of other “stuff” associated with a listing — neighborhood reviews, school ratings & reviews, WalkScores, crime statistics, neighborhood and school district boundaries, local amenities, drive times, etc.
None of it matters if you don’t have listings.
At least in the consumer real estate arena, any startup NOT focused on slicing off a piece of the listings pie to attract buyers is in for an extremely turbulent ride. It’s the hook needed to get buyers to look at anything else, and to make any money as a long term business.
If you don’t focus on the listing? A startup has three possible outcomes:
- Get bought by someone who has listings (NabeWise acquired by AirBnB).
- Pivot to listings (WalkScore).
- Go out of business (virtually every other consumer real estate startup).
Your fate is tied to listings however you look at it, so you may as well accept that fact now.
What slice of buyers are you fishing for? How are you going to reach them? What are you doing differently to serve them?
[Photo via http://shagdora.files.wordpress.com/]