Since its inception in 2015, the Broker Public Portal (BPP) has received its fair share of criticism from those who wondered if the broker/multiple listing service-led venture would have the chutzpah and the technology to truly challenge consumer-facing home search giants like Zillow and realtor.com.
Now, a year after solidifying a 50-50 ownership deal with real estate technology firm Homesnap, Inc. to create National Broker Portal LLC, BPP hopes that posting 150 percent year-over-year growth — which represents a jump from a user base of 45 MLSs to more than 120 MLSs comprising 800,000 agents and brokers — will prove doubters wrong.
“In just 12 months since the Broker Public Portal went live with Homesnap, our growth blows the doors off even the most optimistic estimates,” said BPP vice chairman John Mosey, who also heads up NorthstarMLS, in a press release. “This should quiet the naysayers who wrongly believed that a well-designed industry-led effort couldn’t succeed.”
“Well, millions of consumers and hundreds of thousands of agents have demonstrated that the industry was, in fact, searching for just this solution,” he added.
Homesnap, the face of the BPP, includes Homesnap.com and the company’s Homesnap app for consumers and Homesnap Pro app for agents.
Over 4 million consumers use the Homesnap mobile app, which provides an ad-free experience matched with real-time information for 59 million active and sold listings straight from the MLS and “direct access” to a property’s listing agent or their own agent.
When it comes to Homesnap Pro, agents have access to an individually branded mobile app that features “MLS agent-only listing information, such as sales history, agent deal flow, showing instructions and commission splits, and a full MLS roster for agent-to-agent interaction, built-in private messaging to engage buyers and sellers, an agent safety timer, Rapid CMA, agent marketing tools and more,” according to the company.
Lastly, BPP also follows “fair display guidelines,” which prevents ads from brokers to be featured on another broker’s or agent’s listing. Furthermore, agents aren’t allowed to pay for ad space.
Mosey and Homesnap co-founder Steve Barnes say their technology, their adherence to “fair display guidelines” and MLS and broker ownership set them apart from competitors who rely on ad revenue.
“Until the BPP came along, media companies, whose sole purpose is to sell ads, controlled the home search experience. The data behind these media sites is incomplete and often out of date, frustrating serious home shoppers who rely on the information to help their searches,” said Barnes in an emailed statement to Inman.
“The driving principle behind the BPP with Homesnap is to deliver the most accurate, real-time data straight from the MLS, free from ads, and to make direct connections between the consumer and the listing agent, or with the consumer’s own agent, if they already have one,” he added.
“This is in stark contrast to what the media companies do, and as the rapid sign-up rate for the BPP with Homesnap demonstrates, it is exactly what the real estate industry has been craving.”
Beyond drawing in new MLSs with a top-notch broker and agent experience, BPP and Homesnap have made other strategic moves, such as making Homesnap Pro only available to agents whose MLS has signed up for BPP, and a December 2016 deal with Black Knight Financial Services that gave Black Knight’s 200 MLS customers free access to Homesnap Pro.
Looking forward, Mosey and Barnes say they expect BPP to continue to grow at breakneck pace, thanks to their “stakeholder-first” stance, continued updates to Homesnap and BPP, and financial investments from industry leaders.
Specifically, Barnes says they’ll be focusing on doubling Homesnap’s 45-person staff, with the majority of hires concentrated in technology development, a key part of improving the Homesnap desktop and mobile apps. On the other side, Mosey says they’ll be focusing on onboarding more MLSs and fostering “deeper engagement” between agents and clients.
“We must be doing something right when many of the smartest people in real estate, and some of the brightest people in technology, invest in your company,” Barnes said in a press release.
“As we continue to scale even larger, our ability to provide more collaborative features for agents and consumers will increase as we make significant investments in the Broker Public Portal and Homesnap.”