- Bank of America's listing portal is now mobile-friendly.
- The portal gets listings from a network of "member brokers," who receive promotion on search and listing pages.
The entire world is going mobile, and Bank of America’s real estate broker-powered listing portal just joined the party.
Not only that, but the financial powerhouse’s listing search is hosted by Xome, the end-to-end real estate platform that’s a subsidiary of Nationstar Mortgage Holdings.
Real estate searches on a bank’s website
The country’s second-largest bank recently unveiled a mobile-friendly redesign of its listing portal, modernizing a tool that feeds leads to a network of “member brokers” and has existed in some form since at least 2004.
While some bank websites let buyers sift through their foreclosure listings, Bank of America’s tool also lets buyers search existing for-sale properties.
Chase rolled out a popular mobile search app in 2012 that sourced MLS listings from listings syndicator ListHub, but appears to have since retired the product. (A Chase spokeswoman who said she would look into why did not respond by press time.)
Bank of America is just one of a growing number of companies from outside the real estate brokerage industry that are increasingly fielding property search tools and referring business to agents.
“A lot of companies like BofA want a home search, a housing market trend report, etc., as a way to engage consumers outside of the mortgage process,” said OpenHouse spokeswoman Cristin Culver.
“It’s not just a ‘nice to have,’ it’s actually a business driver that keeps buyers and sellers in their funnel from start-to-finish during their purchase or sale process.”
Bank of America uses Xome to power its property search technology, and Xome is also a Bank of America “member broker” that provides listings for Bank of America’s property search tool.
When users click on the link to the end-user license agreement that appears on realestatecenter.bankofamerica.com, it takes them to a license agreement that identifies Xome as the party responsible for the “content, products and service” that appear on the portal.
And copy that appears at the bottom of BofA’s search and listing pages — even those that don’t advertise Xome as the local member broker — links to xome.com/pages/licensing.
Xome did not immediately respond when asked if it was powering Bank of America’s listing search tool. Bank of America said in an email that Real Estate Digital (RED), which is owned and operated by Xome, has been “hosting and maintaining the Real Estate Center for Bank of America for many years.
“Real Estate Digital is currently a subsidiary of Xome and has a network of real estate companies that work with them. This Xome broker network is one of BofA’s member brokers and provides online services and customer assistance to Real Estate Center visitors,” Bank of America added.
When Xome was unveiled to the public in June 2015 — a “new iteration” of Nationstar subsidiary Solutionstar — Brad Inman wrote that “Solutionstar spent $18 million to acquire the company that holds the password to achieving its lofty goals: Real Estate Digital.
“Real Estate Digital (RED), a 2011 spinoff of Lender Processing Services Inc.’s Real Estate Group, provides technology services to more than 500 multiple listing services, 350 brokerages, nearly 60 settlement services companies and more than 300,000 agents.”
Bank of America’s revamped “Real Estate Center” covers 95 percent of MLS listings and focuses on serving up neighborhood information, pricing trends and recent home sales, Bank of America said in a press release.
Users can request home value range estimates that show comparable home sales. And they can sign up for email alerts when new listings hit the market.
Listing pages show local school and demographic information, walkability scores and pricing trends, such as local median price and sales-to-list price ratios.
The website aggregates listings from a network of member brokers, which include traditional brick-and-mortar members as well as Xome, which is a BofA member broker in every state except:
- Washington, D.C.
- Rhode Island
Member brokers’ branding and contact information appears on search and listing pages, and visitors are invited to submit questions to member brokers on listing pages.
To send an inquiry to a member broker, users must agree to potentially get contacted by both the member broker and Bank of America, even if they’ve previously asked Bank of America not to solicit their business.
Bank of America said that member brokers “allow us to share their local MLS listings with visitors to the Real Estate Center. They must comply with member rules, and there is no membership fee.”
Xome and two other member brokers didn’t immediately respond when asked whether Bank of America receives flat fees or referral fees for providing exposure or leads to member brokers.
When a company outside the industry builds a portal
When Bank of America first began offering a listing search tool, the industry panicked, fearing that banks would enter the real estate services business or plop themselves in the center of the real estate transaction — potentially eroding the position of agents.
Those concerns initially complicated Bank of America’s efforts to serve up listings. But companies that built businesses around publishing real estate data — like Zillow — later became immensely popular.
Today, OpenHouse’s Culver said that the trend of companies that are neither banks nor standalone listing portals rolling out listing search tools is “definitely coming back and worth keeping an eye on.”
OpenHouse powers agent and property search tools for companies including US News & World Report, NerdWallet, WinTrust Mortgage, MortgageHippo and Cartera, according to Culver.
“We have a strong pipeline of additional deals in the bank and credit union space who are interested in cobranding our services as a way to increase their offerings,” she said.