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Realstir, AirBnB, Zillow…and A Few Thoughts

Realstir_logoI came across Realstir recently, and their “Try Before You Buy” concept/trademark. A blend of Zillow & AirBnB essentially. Thought I’d share a few thoughts…

AirBnB and Realtor.com partnered in a very similar fashion in June of last year (see here). That initiative is already shut down / de-prioritized, from what I’ve heard. That begs the question, why?

The Realstir website/portal is simply like every other agent/broker IDX, with a “Try Before you Buy” button tacked on. No? See this listing page: http://www.realstir.com/listing-detail-tbyb.php?id=3595568

realstir-prop-details

Startups come down to incentives. Why would a seller do this, when they can already sell their home without taking on the risk?

In many markets around the country, there is simply no time for this model to work — even if both the buyers and sellers were willing. By the time a buyer books a trip, travels, & stays in the house a night or two – the listing will likely be sold.

Why do all these sites keep shoving agents into the consumer search experience? See here for Realstir’s placement right in the main search. Consumers aren’t searching for agents.

When all is said and done, I think Try Before you Buy ends up as a marketing gimmick. I struggle to believe anyone will actually use the feature. They are hoping to build a network of agents using “convert your listing to TBYB”, then charge those agents for leads/ads.

Haven’t we seen this strategy and monetization model before, dozens of times? What happened to all of them?

Please, tell me what I’m missing here?

PS: There is an interesting angle in all of this. Put a “for sale” marketplace on top of AirBnB’s inventory. For existing vacation rentals, I can imagine if there was a simple way for all the guests to know what the dream price was to purchase the property (and what sort of return the property was making) — there would be interest. It’s a simple math equation for investors, but there’s more to it for those looking to buy their own 2nd or 3rd or 4th homes.

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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