Tech provider says it can help brokerages be more like Redfin

Tribus building VOW sites that facilitate cooperation between agents, clients

Real estate website vendor Tribus wants to help big brokerages beef up their websites with features like access to recently sold home data that have made property search sites like Redfin so popular with consumers.

Internally, the 5-year-old Chicago-based firm has been referring to the new effort to provide enhanced website solutions for brokerages as “Redfin as a service” (a play on “software as a service,” or SaaS), said Tribus founder and director of strategy Eric Stegemann.

Role model image via Shutterstock.
Role model image via Shutterstock.

Brokerages can typically freely share multiple listing service data associated with active listings on their consumer-facing websites and mobile applications. But to share more in-depth MLS data that’s typically reserved for agents — like recently sold homes, price changes and pending sales — with consumers, many MLSs require them to enter into “virtual office website” (VOW) agreements. MLSs typically require that consumers using VOW sites follow a registration process.

Tech-focused brokerages like Redfin and ZipRealty have built popular national real estate sites, in part, by serving up VOW data to consumers. In June, for example, Redfin captured 6 million unique visitors to its website, the fifth most of any real estate site that month. That feat is all the more remarkable because while Redfin has listings data in 40 markets, it has no presence at all in 28 states.

Tribus acquired Austin, Texas-based real estate website vendor Displet this week to help begin powering VOW display for broker clients, Stegemann said.

With Displet’s technology and four-person team on board, Tribus is out to build the first VOW or Internet data exchange (IDX) listing sites that allow communication among agents, their clients and their clients’ collaborators on a home purchase by sharing notes attached to specific properties, Stegemann said.

The new platform, which Tribus will market to larger brokerages that want custom formatting, will also allow agents to rate listings and write notes that will be displayed with listings, Stegemann said.

By giving brokers the ability to show sold data, Tribus also empowers them to one-up Zillow and Trulia, which tap county tax assessor records to let consumers see what a property has sold for in the past. MLSs get sold data weeks or months ahead of time — one reason realtor.com now displays MLS sold data to nonregistered users in markets where MLSs are willing to provide it.

Other vendors have developed tools to help brokerages display VOW data. In May 2013, Tucson, Arizona-based Long Realty rolled out a mobile app developed by MobileRealtyApps that featured a VOW component.

BHHS-VOW

BHHS’s site prompts consumers on search results pages to register or login to access recently sold and pending sale info.

Franchisors that have rolled out VOW components to their websites include Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Intero Real Estate. BHHS’s site prompts consumers on search results pages to register or login to access recently sold and pending sale info.

DocuSign Transaction Room integration

Tribus also offers customer relationship management and email marketing platforms to real estate pros.

Its CRM is the first to be integrated in DocuSign’s relatively new transaction management platform, DocuSign Transaction Rooms (formerly known as “Cartavi”). DocuSign announced an $85 million funding round in March that it says will help take the transaction management platform global.

Originally established as an e-signature technology provider, DocuSign entered the transaction management business when it acquired Cartavi in May 2013.

The two-way integration allow users to access both Tribus’ CRM from DocuSign Transaction Rooms and vice versa.

For example, once a user ties the accounts together, DocuSign Transaction Room users with a Tribus CRM account can pull in all of a contact’s information from their Tribus database from within the transaction management platform, Stegemann said.

This integration is the first of many for DocuSign, said Glenn Shimkus, vice president of product management at DocuSign. The firm’s currently looking at other CRM providers and tech vendors in other arenas like accounting. The firm’s working on integrating LoneWolf’s accounting platform in the next couple of weeks, Shimkus said.

“We want to be the hub for transactions,” Shimkus said of DocuSign’s effort to open up DocuSign Transaction Rooms to integrations.

More about Tribus

Stegemann founded Tribus in 2009 after selling his St. Louis-based brokerage River City Real Estate while retaining the rights to the firm’s intellectual property, which became the backbone for Tribus. The self-funded firm now has 21 employees.

Currently, 7,500 agents use Tribus’ products and services, Stegemann said. The firm’s largest client is 1,200-agent Pleasanton, California-based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Mason-McDuffie.

Tribus will announce a larger broker client with approximately 2,200 agents in coming weeks, Stegemann said.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly labeled the firm as Tribus Group. In fact, the firm’s name is Tribus.


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