Hacker Connect January 16 in New York
An event for and by the real estate tech community

Your name: Mark Bergman

Name of product: RealtyTrac.com 7-day free trial

1. Ease. Is it easy to use for real estate professionals? For real estate consumers? How steep is the learning curve?

–Strengths (250 words or less):

RealtyTrac offers many different ways of searching for the same information. This feature supports users who approach the Web differently. The more experienced Web site user or real estate buyer/agent may enter very targeted, detailed searches, while the beginner or less computer savvy user may select from a variety of preformatted searches. For example, I searched for foreclosures in my home county. On the search results page, I reviewed the relevant properties the system offered up, but I also had access to links to foreclosures in various towns in the county. This may make searching easier for some users.

–Weaknesses (250 words or less):

Too many ads. From the time of sign-up, one is bombarded with offers and ads for other services. The registration process requires the user to click through three different trial offers. Advertiser-supported Web sites can be a great value to the consumer in trade off for free information, but so many ads on a paid site is obnoxious.

–Numeric rating, from zero to 100 (zero is the worst and 100 is the best):

70

–Explanation for rating (250 words or less):

Accuracy of the information presented is inconsistent. One can’t help but feel that they are paying to look at just far too many ads. It’s clear that RealtyTrac is out to make money any way that they can. What’s less clear is their commitment to providing a valuable service with useful information.

2. Value. Is it helpful and useful for real estate professionals? For their clients/customers/consumers? Cost vs. benefits: Is it worth the cost?

–Strengths (250 words or less):

RealtyTrac offers some interesting features for both homeowners and agents to prospect. One of the most valuable feature I found is the ability to print postcards, both standard and custom, for contacting a property owner to express one’s interest in buying or listing. I like the option of printing the postcard on my own printer or paying RealtyTrac to print and mail, but the latter is pricy at $2.50 for a small color postcard.

–Weaknesses (250 words or less):

MLS updates or connections are inconsistent. It seems as if RealtyTrac would like to have connections to MLSs, but has not negotiated data feeds successfully. They should use some of the subscription fees and ad revenue to pay for complete and accurate IDX feeds.

–Numeric rating, from zero to 100 (zero is the worst and 100 is the best):

65

–Explanation for rating (250 words or less):

One doesn’t leave the RealtyTrac site with enough information to go out and buy or sell foreclosures. Instead, one leaves with "suspicions" that there may be a property in foreclosure and barely enough data to find the real facts.

3. Power. Would real estate professionals and consumers be likely to use this often? Can it replace existing tools/methods? How much information and how many features does it put at the user’s fingertips? Does it have the power to change the industry? Can real estate professionals and consumers use this on the go? Is it innovative and cutting-edge? Is it scalable (can be used by individuals and entire offices/companies)? Does it have advanced features for tech-savvy users? Does it integrate with other products?

–Strengths (250 words or less):

Almost none.

–Numeric rating, from zero to 100 (zero is the worst and 100 is the best):

65

–Explanation for rating (250 words or less):

RealtyTrac just doesn’t offer real value. I have no doubt that tracking foreclosures is, at best, a real challenge for any service provider, and RealtyTrac is no exception. I’ve used other foreclosure tracking sites that are superior.

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