A single event can spark an insight into where we have been or where we are going. The news that Prudential is purchasing eRealty did that for us. For one, a traditional off-line franchise acquiring a pure Internet-inspired company shows convincingly that the marriage of bricks and clicks is real, necessary and inevitable. Prudential acquires the innovation, technology and risk-taking of an online company, and eRealty gets the depth, judgment and experience of a traditional real estate company. Of course, this deal may just be a case of one real estate company buying another–an example of consolidation, albeit on a small scale, in the industry: HomeServices buys this, Cendant buys that, Diller grabs LendingTree, Tree nabs Realestate.com and Domania tags along. The acquisition instead is the first shoe to drop in the trend towards major real estate franchises finally investing in the Web lead business, using the expertise and technology of firms like eRealty to prospect lea...
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