National Listing Portals’ Impact on Innovation

Last week I attended the Clareity conference with Aaron. As usual, there were tons of great discussions and presentations, especially after the recent M&As in the national listing portal space. So because my marketing director is making me, I put together this blog post. (Joking!) In all seriousness, there were some great ideas that I took away from this year’s event, that I wanted to share, as they relate to HomeSpotter.

 First up, listing portal pricing

Gregg Larson, President & CEO of Clareity, noted that since none of the “Big 3” listing portals (Zillow/Trulia, Realtor.com and Homes.com) have been greatly profitable—except maybe for Realtor.com—he expects Wall Street to begin demanding actual yields. He further speculated that this will force a price increase for agents who purchase leads. From what I’m seeing in agent Facebook groups and blog comments, this seems to have begun. Some agents have shared that Zillow sales reps are trying to renew agent memberships at triple the current rates.

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 In my opinion, this presents a dangerous pressure on innovation in our industry. If a greater share of an agent’s discretionary/marketing dollars go into to the hands of few vendors, it creates a tremendous downward pricing pressure on all others. There is only so much to go around. Slim margins prevents reinvestment in new ideas and innovation.

At HomeSpotter, we know there’s a limit to what agents can afford, or are willing to pay, based on the value they receive. And while we’re not in direct competition with the Big 3, we play in some of the same corners of the sandbox. So for us, a core value is to empower agents through our apps (whether free or premium) so they can stand out in a space that’s getting more crowded every day.

Second point, perceived market strengths

The panelists representing each of these listing portals revealed interesting statements about their perceived strengths:

  • Zillow: “We have a lot of traffic and a lot of visitors.”
  • Realtor.com: “We have the most accurate and timely listing data.”
  • Homes.com: “We have the most qualified leads or higher covered leads.”
  • Trulia: “We are now part of Zillow.”

I’m curious to hear thoughts from others in regards to…

Which of these self-described strengths do you feel are intentional and strategic, or may be reactionary based on market or competitive pressures? Will increased prices change any of these perceived strengths in the minds of agents, or have they already? Are you seeing agents move dollars out of the listing portals elsewhere?

Please share your thoughts comments below, or shoot me an email if you’d like to chat offline.

About Ohan Antebian

Ohan, Chief Strategy Officer, brings vast knowledge and experience in the online marketing and technology areas to HomeSpotter. His technical passion is in data analytics and data supported decisions, but he adheres to the belief that culture and people are the utmost differentiators.

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