- Broker Public Portal project is in discussion with application developer Homesnap to power the new industry initiative.
- This shows there's still opportunity in consumer real estate portals.
A reliable source has tipped me off that the Broker Public Portal project has made a deal with application developer Homesnap to power the new industry initiative that promises an alternative home search site.
A letter of intent has been drafted and signed.
Homesnap offers an innovative mobile search app for home shoppers with powerful tools for agents to help customers with their housing hunting journey. The company has already built a consumer audience and has considerable experience working with local MLS data.
Plus, the company is an agnostic software company that supports the industry but has an impressive consumer beach head with its popular application.
What’s the Broker Public Portal and why does it need Homesnap?
Broker Public Portal is a new home search initiative that is being supported by major real estate brokers who have ready access to MLS data but do not have the technology prowess or a realistic path to building a consumer audience without a partner or lots of money.
Homesnap would solve both problems, giving the initiative a lift on all fronts and smacking down critics, including me, who say BPP is a dream that will never come true.
Downplaying BPP ambitions, Merle Whitehead, CEO of RealtyUSA, wrote in a recent Inman article that, “we simply seek to create a home search experience that’s different. We think the agents and brokers who sell homes will be excited to bring it to market.”
He continued; “BPP is a product initiative supported by hundreds of companies that sell homes. Within that critical difference is an opportunity to bring a home search experience to market that is defined by simplicity, integrity and common sense — not ad revenue.”
The company has reportedly raised $500,000, and six months ago an LLC was formed with plans to raise funding for the project through local MLS participation.
What’s this deal mean for real estate?
This news tip hit me like a ton of bricks, making me realize how nascent consumer real estate portals may still be. Opportunity still abounds for new entrants who are capitalized or willing to partner with those that have ready access to the MLS data or with agile new startups.
Search is a blue ocean of opportunity: Lifestyle search, predictive analytics and more sophisticated agent matching married with listing search are still fertile ground for innovation. Many clever startups are trying to outsmart the big boys.
They include Placester, which powers listing search for a number of publishers; OpenHouse, which touts lifestyle-oriented listing search and agent matching; RealScout’s lifestyle search engine and Onboard Informatics that has three search engines.
Whitehead ended his Inman article with, “Underestimating the business acumen of these [BPP] leaders is a mistake. Our board of managers — which represents brokerage companies, franchisors and MLSs across the country — is an accomplished and committed group determined not to ‘out-Zillow Zillow’ but to create something that complements their own successful businesses.”
With the right partner, I could become a believer.
Update: It’s official
A press release intended to go out tomorrow was just sent to Inman — here’s what the players had to say for themselves in the statement:
“We selected Homesnap because it is a young, innovative company with a track record of creating highly engaging real estate apps and websites that align with our mission to deliver a straightforward consumer experience with a direct connection to real estate professionals,” said Merle Whitehead, chairman of the BPP and CEO of Realty USA, a real estate brokerage operating in New York and Pennsylvania. “The Homesnap team is extremely bright, has proven that it can earn the respect of the MLSs that provision and safeguard real estate listings data, and absolutely has what it takes to build an outstanding product.”
“We could not be happier to partner with the BPP,” said Guy Wolcott, co-founder and CEO of Homesnap. “This was a natural fit for us, as we share the BPP’s vision of a single brand and unified platform that serves and connects both consumers and agents. Now, we’ve joined forces to make that vision a reality on a national scale. And we’ll be working even harder together to build the best tools for consumers, agents, brokers and MLSs.”