The HomeNet, a Birmingham, Ala.-based company that consolidates residential property listings and distributes them to participating real estate agents’ Web sites, launched Thursday.

The company collects information about properties for sale from real estate professionals and makes the listings available to the contributors for display on their Web sites. The database includes properties listed with agents, for sale by owner, new construction and foreclosures, the company said.

In a somewhat similar move, RE/MAX International in mid-August announced a plan to pool residential property listings into a national collection that can be viewed online at the company’s Web site, www.remax.com. It remains to be seen how many agents will use HomeNet to collect and distribute their listings, however.

Currently, HomeNet has a distribution arrangement with Yahoo! Classified and with one of the larger aggregator foreclosure companies, said Michael Poythress, the company’s president. The company has some agents on board and is seeking more through viral marketing in venues such as real estate e-mail listserv RealTalk.

“It’s like a national equivalent to the homes magazines, where agents submit specific properties and then the magazine gets distributed to all the other real estate offices and shopping centers,” Poythress said.

“We’re doing the same thing in the online world. The database contains properties from a number of different sources and gets distributed to a number of different places,” the company president said.

The difference is that consumers probably won’t be looking at the listings on HomeNet’s site.

HomeNet’s technology puts a searchable database on contributors’ Web sites that includes all the properties listed with HomeNet. The database can be customized to look exactly like the rest of the site. When a consumer clicks on a listing, he or she is taken directly to the property contributor’s Web site for more detailed information.

The company supplies its entire listings feed back to agents who participate. The agents can decide which listings they wish to display on their sites.

Real estate agents pay $5 per property they contribute, and construction companies pay $10 or $15 to do so, Poythress said.

Consumers and professionals can search the database by going to participant Web sites or the HomeNet’s site, using the usual criteria such as address, price and number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Poythress said HomeNet’s anticipated value to agents is that “First, people will be able to put their properties on a database like the MLS. Second, they will be able to include the data on their own sites,” Poythress said. Also, agents can put the properties other agents in their area have listed on their sites, he said. “Agents will be able to include all the listings on HomeNet on their sites.”

If consumers follow the links displayed in those listings, they will be taken to the original listing agents’ sites.

The value to consumers, Poythress said, is that they won’t have to go to a number of sites such as Realtor.com, Foreclosure.com and ForSaleByOwner.com to find everything that’s for sale.

Poythress got his start in the real estate industry six years ago. He was owner and manager of a discount brokerage, Time To Move, in Birmingham, Ala. HomeNet’s staff includes Birmingham broker Susan Grace, as well as David Nelson, its chief software architect, and William Slappey, vice president of operations.

Poythress is optimistic about getting agents to come on board.

“Word of mouth is important. We’ve already started spreading the word. We have mailing lists with our own contacts to start the ball rolling,” he said.

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