Editor’s note: The following is a guest perspective by Steve Berkowitz, CEO for Move Inc., which operates Realtor.com.
By STEVE BERKOWITZ
In the past few weeks, Move has achieved several vital milestones that will accelerate the pace at which we bring products and services to market in support of Realtors and the industry as we head into the next era of real estate together.
The updated operating agreement with our partner, the National Association of Realtors, our recent acquisition of Threewide, the recently released "Find" search platform, and the launch of the redesigned Realtor.com — each of these achievements reinforce the fact that Move’s primary mission has not changed and remains very simple:
"To connect real estate professionals with consumers in order to increase the number of home sales transactions."
To do this, we believe we must give consumers access to the best information and search experience possible. At the same time, we must provide brokers and agents with the right tools and access to consumers so they can market their brands, services and listings in a manner that facilitates connections with buyers and sellers.
If you’ve watched Move for any period of time, you’ve seen how our mission "to connect real estate professionals with consumers" guides the products and services we offer, which now include syndication.
While the overall reaction to our recent announcements has been positive, I believe it’s important to reaffirm our commitment to remain highly focused on what we’re doing to achieve our mission, and clearly communicate how it will benefit our partners, the industry, and consumers. Let’s look at each of our areas of focus briefly:
1. Move’s content mission — Move doesn’t own or control any of the listings we aggregate, display or syndicate through any of our brands. Brokers own and control their listing content, and multiple listing services control their databases of listings. Move has committed to only use listing data from third parties in accordance with each content provider’s permission and instructions.
For example, this means the owners of the listings (brokers) remain in control of their listings, and are the ones to decide whether or not to syndicate, and to which destinations for display to consumers. A second example would be our Find search platform, a new service intended to help our partners become more productive and more profitable.
2. Realtor.com’s mission — In the past 14 years, in conjunction with our partner NAR, Move has focused on being the best online destination for real estate information for consumers. With the support of all Realtors, we will continue to innovate and give consumers what they need.
We also know that as a popular online real estate destination, we must lead in helping Realtors understand the performance of their marketing dollars. Our goal is to help people "love where they live," and we believe Realtors are instrumental in getting people into the right home.
3. ListHub’s mission — As many of you know, ListHub provides real estate brokers and agents with a single control center to manage their online marketing components, including syndication and performance reports. I want to assure you, ListHub will continue to be an unbiased platform; that means it will remain the leading syndication network solution providing accurate, timely and valuable information Realtors and consumers need.
The ListHub business model isn’t based around its free syndication service. It’s based on a subscription model for performance reports that range from $29 to $299, depending on what services are requested. These are mutually exclusive services, so brokers can benefit from the free syndication service without the requirement of paying for reports.
4. Reporting mission — We believe strongly that marketing efficiency is driven by performance. By acquiring Threewide and elevating the ListHub brand to a primary product offering at Move, we’ll combine Move’s strength in data accuracy with ListHub’s leadership in syndication and market intelligence.
As a Move brand, ListHub will remain a neutral and unified platform providing a balanced, unbiased and transparent view of a listing’s performance. ListHub’s reporting services must stay this way if they’re to remain a reliable marketing tool for brokers.
And while you may hear this is impossible, Google and Google Analytics have proved it is possible and is, in fact, an accepted practice by their customers and competitors. For clarity, ListHub publishers will still be able to audit metrics reports for comparison with their own reports.
This will enable them to remain confident the data reported back to the 38,000 brokers that send their listings through the ListHub network is accurate, unchanged and valid. In addition, we will be working to include Realtor.com performance (property views, leads, etc.) in ListHub’s reports.
We believe inclusion of Realtor.com in these widely-used performance reports will help brokers see a more complete picture of the results of their efforts as they help clients sell homes, regardless of where their property is displayed to potential buyers.
Move’s entrance into content syndication is a natural evolution of the marketing products and services we offer to connect real estate professionals with consumers.
It’s also something many of you asked us to provide alongside our other products, knowing our involvement would lead to greater data accuracy and protection regardless of where a listing is displayed.
We listened, saw industrywide benefit, and pursued the ability to provide this additional free syndication service to you — our partners, our customers, and our colleagues.
While the evolution of online real estate is still in the early stages for many, syndication in the search-engine business has helped many small and large online businesses achieve their goals. As we move forward together, your input will help shape the future of our industry and bring greater benefits to all of us.
I’d like to hear your ideas and thoughts on how Move can work with you and our other industry partners so real estate professionals fully benefit from the network effect that has helped many large and small businesses on the Internet achieve their goals.
Steve Berkowitz is CEO for Move Inc., which operates Realtor.com.
Copyright 2010 Steve Berkowitz