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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 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:


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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  • Ditto. I think you’re ghostwriting for me.

    Not everything is airbnb. Not everything is uber. Not everything is bitcoin.

    There’s no market for this. It could be a successful ad gimmick in a down market, but even then you’d be hard pressed to make the case that it would actually increase the likelihood of an individual home selling.

    Real estate is a serious business with monstrous barriers to change. Tech can make change, but it needs to have a serious conversation before trying to tack the latest flash on to a serious financial transaction. The amount of money blown on gimmicks in this industry makes me gag. PLEASE consult with some industry insiders before throwing money at innovation.

    • “The amount of money blown on gimmicks in this industry makes me gag.”
      For real. It’s crazy.

  • Saul Klein


  • Gabe Sanders

    Not something most sellers would have any interest doing. Nor, something that I would recommend to my clients.

  • BTZ4455

    The other issue with AirBnB, unlike Uber for instance which has also caused all sorts of stir in many markets including my home area where it was the usual “sky is falling” rhetoric from our local cab companies who’ve had an insane monopoly all thanks to gov’t help or maybe I should say “collusion” to be more accurate since it was a big, awful scam to those of us who’d even just occasionally want to use a cab as on top of paying rates here (Milwaukee metro area) that were considerably higher than much larger metro’s like Chicago, just over an hour south, nearly 10 million in metro vs under 2 mil here and where EVERYTHING is more expensive-except taking a cab, plus unless you were at a spot like a major downtown hotel where cabs were often waiting, or had the pure luck to flag an open cab down, you’d need to call and wait, which on any busy night for cabs like NYE, would often literally mean waiting for HOURS and sometimes they’d never even show up! (I know that from bartending in college and having to call for many cabs for customers, frustrating as hell when you’re sitting with customers who smartly don’t want to drive after drinking, twice I ended up giving them rides home in my own car after waiting forever, bar closed and its 0 degrees outside!)

    So, Uber and Lyft come in and yes, could’ve maybe taken the “nice guy” route and begged for a change in the insane rules that severely limited the # of cabs in the city (and good luck getting a cab in the burbs any night, or at least call ahead, like WAY ahead!) but they already knew it was arguably a scam with cab company friendly elected officials, greased up with decades of campaign contributions and some say more money under the table, but I’m NOT going to make that accusation since there was never any proof that was true but the legal money was certainly true.

    Uber was offering a solution using new tech now commonly used to fix what really was a problem or a big problem when besides using cabs for simply getting someplace, they were also often the best answer to stop someone from driving home after consuming too much alcohol, which isn’t too much now that we have .08 BAC laws, you don’t need to be falling down drunk to be too drunk to drive!

    AirBnB is doing something which may seem great at first glance to travelers now able to rent homes for less than what a dingy dump of a motel room often costs in big cities especially and for the homeowners cashing in, but its already prohibited by laws or code in many cities of all sizes and the rest keep falling like dominoes as they realize that without them, anyone can turn their home into a part time hotel or even worse as happened in a high profile story here, a large home was converted into full time “party palace” rental on a very quiet and very prestigious street and all hell broke loose! How would you like it if your home, for most people their biggest single asset by far, suddenly has a de facto motel operating next door, when you thought you were buying in a residential area, NOT a commercial area?

    By far most people are NOT happy about that scenario and it totally violates a myriad of codes that motels and hotels have to follow, often at great expense for guests safety, like I’m sure most motels, even the dumpiest dumps have to have for fire safety to pick one area, AC/DC hard wired smoke alarms, AC/DC lighted exit signs w/long term battery backup to power emergency spotlights for 24 hrs if need be, etc while Joe Homeowner can go to HD and grab a few $8 stick on smoke alarms powered by a 9 volt and meet code-FOR A RESIDENTIAL HOME. When you rent it out on AirBnB or via any method, you’re NOT owner of a residential home anymore and it is just common sense that this isn’t going to last for long in vast majority of places!

  • NetMark03

    Absolutely nice post.Thanks for the share.!!

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