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Listingbook brings ‘AI’ to real estate search

Agents get insight into clients' interests, and advice on guiding them to a sale

Listingbook LLC says it’s bringing “advanced intelligence” to client management with the latest version of its property search platform, which lets real estate agents track their clients’ interests and prompts them to take action that will keep buyers and sellers on track for a closing.

The Greensboro, N.C.-based company said today it’s also added neighborhood boundaries, school attendance zones, and public tax record data to the second generation of its property search and client management system, dubbed Listingbook AI.

For consumers who are willing to sign up to work with an agent, Listingbook AI provides access to multiple listing service data that the company says is even more comprehensive than what consumers get from brokers operating Virtual Office Websites (VOWs).

Real estate agents who belong to one of 54 MLSs that have agreements with Listingbook can register to use the platform at no charge. A $19.95 monthly subscription is required to access branded marketing tools and detailed insight into how clients are using the site, such as property search criteria and homes viewed, favorited or rejected.

Listingbook AI analyzes clients’ behavior and usage patterns, offering agents advice on what to do next to keep them on the path to a sale.

“Clients will tell you how to manage them if you are able to collaborate with them on their search activity,” said Listingbook COO Todd John.

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Computer scientists and science fiction writers often use AI as shorthand for “artificial intelligence.” Listingbook says the “AI” in Listingbook AI stands for “advanced intelligence.”

Either way, the underlying concept — that Listingbook AI will play an active role in client management — is the same, and applies to sellers as well.

Agents can use the application’s drip marketing system to send automatic updates to clients — “Morning Reports” — that highlight price changes on properties in a buyer’s search area, for example, or recent sales that alert sellers to changing market conditions.

“Agents want sellers to set realistic prices,” John said. “Agents tell us they can use Listingbook to win price reductions from clients.”

Listingbook may not be be a household name with consumers yet, but the company sees the latest version of its real estate search platform as a direct competitor with — and alternative to — big listing portals like Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia.

Getting clients off of consumer-facing listing portals and into Listingbook is one way to make sure that agents and their clients are literally on the same page.

“It’s important for clients and their agents to collaborate on the same search, instead of one using Realtor.com and the other using the MLS,” John said.

Listingbook managers also point out to agents and brokers that their clients will never see ads for competing real estate firms next to listings — or anywhere else on the site, for that matter. Zillow and Trulia have raised the hackles of some brokers by running ads for buyer’s agents next to listings — a money-making technique Realtor.com is also experimenting with in seven test markets.

The incentive for consumers to collaborate with an agent and do their house hunting through Listingbook is access to a richer set of listings data, plus community and school information sourced from third-party providers such as Onboard Informatics, Maponics, Lender Processing Services, and Microsoft Bing.

Listingbook AI offers tools that help buyers find, compare and research properties in a user-friendly interface. Agents can help sellers gauge interest in their home by showing how many buyers and agents have viewed their listing.

Password-protected VOW sites like those operated by Redfin and ZipRealty employ a similar model, attracting consumers by providing access to historical listings data such as previous asking price and sales price history, days on market, and recent sales of comparable properties.

John said that while Listingbook is not a VOW, it obtains access to listing data through agreements with 57 MLSs and operates under the same rules that govern VOWs.

Consumers don’t have unrestricted access to the MLS through Listingbook — only agents can see commission splits offered to cooperating brokers, for example, and consumers can’t search for expired or withdrawn listings. But the information Listingbook can provide “goes beyond VOW,” John said, with “hundreds of data fields” for each listing and six years of sold data in some markets.

While real estate property search sites attract about 40 million unique visitors a month, he said, “Nobody has put their flag in the ground to say, ‘We are the standard in search.’ ” That’s what the company is attempting to do, he said, as it transitions MLSs that are live on its existing platform over to Listingbook AI.

The Tucson Association of Realtors, owner of TAR/MLS, will be the first major MLS in the nation to offer members Listingbook AI, the company announced today.

John said Listingbook has new agreements with MLSs in three additional markets — Nashville, Orlando, and South Broward County, Fla. — that will be implemented in the next 30 to 60 days. Deals are pending with six other “hot prospects,” he said, that would bring to 63 the total number of MLSs providing data to Listingbook.

Michael Ondrejko, executive vice president of product and brand management for the company, said Listingbook customizes its interface to account for unique characteristics of individual markets, including property types and descriptions. In Jacksonville, Fla., for example, flood zones are displayed in map searches.

Because buyers using Listingbook “are very far down the path,” they tend to be more active than visitors to consumer-facing listing portals, Ondrejko said, each registering up to 200 page views per month compared with 10 or 15 page views at competing sites.

Listingbook claims 1.2 million unique visitors and 60 million page views per month. About 170,000 agents and 2 million of their clients and prospects have opened Listingbook accounts during the last three years, the company said. Listingbook is now available to more than 500,000 agents, and John said there’s a “heavy user group” of about 30,000 agents who use the service on a daily basis.

It’s enough traffic that Listingbook.com sometimes appears on a list of top 20 real estate websites compiled by Experian Hitwise. In April, for example, Listingbook.com was the 19th-most visited real estate on the Hitwise top 20 list of real estate-category sites — nine places behind ZipRealty, which this year began using its VOW website to provide leads to brokerages in markets it’s not active in through its “Powered by Zip” referral program.

Listingbook took over a consumer-facing listing portal, Cyberhomes.com, from LPS last year. John said the move was primarily a strategic play for access to the portal’s MLS clients and public property records. At the time the deal was struck, Listingbook.com was generating more traffic than Cyberhomes.com.

Although the Listingbook.com website is capable of generating leads for agents — “Listingbook Premium Services Agents” are displayed at the top of results when consumers use the site to conduct agent searches — John said the site does not generate a significant number of leads.

Listingbook also provides custom websites with lead generation forms for agents. Or agents can add clients and prospects to Listingbook AI by hand, and import their own comma-separated values (CSV) spreadsheet files and client prospect lists generated by MLSs.

ListingBook also sells QuickFarm marketing lists, by ZIP code or street, that provide a prospect’s full name, email address, and home address, and can be imported into Listingbook.

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