Officials at CompleteHome.com, which is affiliated with real estate powerhouse Cendant Corp., announced this week that the site is offering a cash rebate of up to $3,600, where available, to consumers who use a referred agent to sell their existing home and buy a new home.
A rebate of up to $1,800 is available to consumers who use a referred agent for one transaction – either a home sale or a home purchase. All of the referred agents are affiliated with Cendant’s real estate brands. Though the referred agent rebate is not yet posted on the site, a spokesman said Thursday that the rebate program has already launched.
CompleteHome also offers — in exchange for membership fees — access to a network of home improvement contractors, and savings for moving services, household appliances and decor such as blinds and wallpaper, and discounts on utility bills.
CompleteHome is not the first company to roll out a spectrum of real estate services at a single Web site. RealEstate.com, a Web site operated by Lending Tree parent InterActiveCorp, offers assistance in selecting a real estate agent, moving, setting up home utilities, acquiring homeowner’s insurance, getting prequalified for a mortgage loan, estimating the value of a home and acquiring a credit report.
That online real estate portal offers consumers a reward of up to $2,000, where available, for using a Realtor who is referred through the site. In July, InterActiveCorp announced the acquisition of ServiceMagic, a company that links consumers with home improvement contractors, and those services are also expected to be offered through the RealEstate.com site.
The expansion of CompletetHome.com could indicate that the online battle for real estate business is heating up.
CompleteHome.com appears to have come full-circle after Cendant Corp. chairman, president and CEO Henry R. Silverman announced in October 1999 that the Web site would become “the real estate industry’s only total online solution operated by real estate practitioners for brokers, agents and consumers.” Silverman also said at that time, “We think CompleteHome.com is the ideal name for this online venture because we will aggregate in one virtual portal an unrivaled amount of services and expertise dedicated to every aspect of the residential real estate world.”
And Richard A. Smith, chairman and CEO of Cendant’s Real Estate Division, said of the planned launch of the Web portal, “Through lead generation, home-related resources, and a broad range of Internet services, CompleteHome.com will be an integral part of the Cendant value circle.”
Cendant officials said they expected the site to launch in December 1999 and they expected a public offering for the new business in the second quarter of 2000. But even before the CompleteHome.com site launched, Cendant officials changed its name to Move.com.
The Move.com business was then acquired by Homestore.com, a company affiliated with the National Association of Realtors, and the acquisition was completed in February 2001. Silverman said in a related announcement, “The benefit of this transaction is threefold: it delivers a great return on our investment in Move.com, eliminates the need for future cash investment in this business and continues to provide the expertise of an Internet industry to enhance the Web-based technology and related services we offer to our franchisees and their customers.”
“Cendant Internet Group will now focus on the incubation of the company’s new travel portal,” he added.
CompleteHome.com is operated by Trilegiant, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cendant Marketing Group. Cendant Marketing Group is a part of Cendant Corp., which owns the Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Commercial and ERA real estate franchise brokerages. Cendant Corp. is a parent of NRT Inc., which has a number of corporate-owned real estate brands, including: The Sunshine Group, The Corcoran Group, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Commercial, ERA and Sotheby’s.
In January, Cendant announced the formation of Cendant Marketing Group to more directly control and supervise its two direct-marketing units, Progeny Marketing Innovations and Trilegiant. The marketing group is a part of the company’s financial services division.
Todd Smith, a spokesman for Cendant Marketing Group, Progeny Marketing Innovations and Trilegiant, said that CompleteHome.com leverages its relationship with Cendant by offering discounts to Cendant-affiliated services. He said that CompleteHome.com real estate agent referral services soon will be added to the Web site. The company is “adding benefits and strengthening the products that they’re offering” on the site, he said.
CompleteHome.com is a “full-service, door-to-door operation,” Smith said. We not only take care of consumers wanting to buy a home we also take care of them once they’re in that home to do improvements to that home. It really is a one-stop real estate shopping opportunity.” Trilegiant Web sites receive an estimated 11,000 hits per day, Smith said.
The RealEstate.com site also is intended to serve as a full-service portal for consumers in every stage of the home-purchase or home-sale process. Company officials aim to leverage other InterActiveCorp online services, such as those offered by LendingTree and ServiceMagic, through the RealEstate.com portal.
Internet mogul Barry Diller is CEO of InterActiveCorp, which owns a host of major Web-based enterprises, including Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Citysearch.com, Match.com, and Ticketmaster.com, among other business operations.
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