Last week, I investigated category kings further. On the residential side of real estate, the unwavering category king is Zillow Group. In addition to their flagship brand, they own Trulia, StreetEasy, and even power Yahoo! Real Estate. is a distant second, with no legitimate player anywhere in sight beyond that. The portal landscape seemingly has played itself out — no one has made a real play in the last 5+ years. Blame Zillow’s ginormous traffic advantage, data moat (Zestimates, AI, buyer demand, listings, mortgage, etc), brand power, and capital advantage.

Everyone is trying to do real estate slightly better, slightly more efficient, slightly cheaper. It’s not enough. Category kings don’t sell better. They sell different. Kings capture 70-80% of value/revenue in a given category, 2nd place grabs enough to scrape by and remain viable — and everyone else fights for the scraps (and generally ceases to exist).

Competing head-on at the portal game is suicide. Thus, for those aiming to develop a meaningful presence in real estate, the question becomes what new potential categories exist that can turn into massive markets on their own? How do you slice the pie in a new, creative way?

I went into the two (sub) markets of the real estate on the consumer side that I believe to be large enough to support a future king.

In our second article, I posed a few questions about the NYC Buyer Graph initiative announced by RealScout last week:

  • How can/do/will NYC agents make their buyers use their brokerage’s branded home search, rather than StreetEasy or some other service?
  • Is there a legal battle on the horizon for participating brokerages & RealScout, as Rob Hahn alludes to?
  • What are the deal terms for founding brokerages? Do they get the technology free for X years/months?
  • Is RealScout’s primary goal to prove the concept in NYC, and then monetize similar initiatives in other local markets? ie is the NYC initiative a loss leader, or will they make money from participants?
  • For brokers/agents in other markets, would you welcome an initiative like this in your local market? Would you pay to participate?

Weekly Radar Sample

A billion-dollar financial firm that launched a 20,000 single family rental portfolio in 2012 just launched its newest venture with $225 Million in funding. BungaloHomes is set to join the iBuyer ranks in Texas and Florida with plans to expand to other markets targeting homes above the median price ranges most of its competition is targeting. Amherst Holdings, the Austin based firm behind the company, is ready to invest another $1Billion into the project next year. Forget about Opendoor and Zillow for a moment and ponder what happens when other large portfolios fast follow Amherst or when the top mortgage servicers get out of an IDEO or McKinsey pitch inspired to roll out innovative new housing fintech solutions to retain customers who already own homes. -GF

The pocket listings landscape saw a significant development: Compass Coming Soon. Before their huge merger, Pacific Union had recently launched “Private View” with $400 Million worth of exclusives. There’s currently 23 coming soon listings in San Francisco if you’d like to peek at their modern interface. On the heels of the acquisition, will their combined strength shift the balance of power? If they build critical mass among luxury inventory, the answer may be yes. -DM

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