Technology

Agent-branded collaborative search tool catching on with brokerages

RealScout signs 5 brokerages, expands into Washington state

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RealScout, a 2-year-old startup that allows real estate agents to brand its collaborative search platform, has signed five brokerages and expanded into Washington state.

The Mountain View, California-based firm launched its search platform to agents in the San Francisco Bay Area last year. By giving agents the ability to brand its search platform, RealScout helps them compete with high-tech search portals like Zillow and Trulia in the online search arena, said RealScout CEO Andrew Flachner.

RealScout, which is now available to brokers and agents in the state of Washington, sold 100 RealScout agent licenses to San Carlos, California-based Today Sotheby’s International Realty.

In addition, four other brokerages bought a combined total of 125 RealScout licenses for their agents: San Francisco-based Zephyr Real Estate; San Ramon, California-based Realty One Group BMC Associates; Petaluma, California-based Century 21 Real Estate Bundesen; and Seattle-based Pointe3 Real Estate.

The brokerage deals are not geographically exclusive, Flachner said.

As a tech vendor, RealScout handles Internet data exchange (IDX) feeds from the eight multiple listing services it now has licenses with. IDX refers to the pool of listings brokerages in a certain market make available to each other for online search.

RealScout is not available to every consumer right off the bat. Typically, agents with a RealScout account invite consumers to use the platform, Flachner said. Consumers can also access the platform from a RealScout partner agent or broker’s website.

Andrew Flachner

Andrew Flachner

When consumers click on a search tab on the website of one of RealScout’s new broker partners (like Point3 Real Estate), they’re taken to a co-branded site hosted on RealScout’s platform. As with the agent version, RealScout’s search page is branded to the broker, and listing detail pages feature branded lead forms.

RealScout doesn’t sell a white-labeled version of its product to agents and brokers because the firm has found that consumers think they just have access to a limited set of listings when they’re on an agent or broker’s own site, Flachner said. The RealScout logo and site ensures that consumers understand they have access to all of that market’s listings, he said.

Brokerages can distribute leads that come in from the RealScout site as they see fit, Flachner said. Although RealScout made a back-end dashboard to facilitate how a broker directs leads, RealScout is not shifting its focus to lead generation with its broker product, he said.

In fact, the firm is focusing even more on connecting buyers with homes by building out its search algorithm to help consumers search for homes based on “soft” search terms like “large backyards” or “high ceilings,” he said.

In addition, RealScout is devising local search parameters unique to the specific areas where it serves clients. For example, in Seattle, where Pointe3 Real Estate is located, consumers can search on RealScout for homes “Near Ferry,” “Near Microsoft Connector” and “Near I-90.”

“We’re focused on helping agents convert active homebuyers into clients,” Flachner said. The brokerage-level product is a way for brokers to demonstrate value by giving agents technology that helps them convert leads into clients, he said.

Flachner says that RealScout has no interest in generating leads or becoming a consumer brand, but remains focused on helping agents and brokers’ clients find the best home for them.

RealScout brought on realtor.com’s former head of mobile, Duke Fan, as vice president of product in July.