When news broke Monday that CoStar, a publicly traded data and analytics firm, had agreed to acquire Homesnap, real estate agents immediately questioned what the move meant for Homesnap, which operates a consumer-facing real estate portal in partnership with Broker Public Portal (BPP).
In the wake of the acquisition, many wonder what the future of Homesnap and BPP will look like and if Zillow will have new competition in the real estate portal space.
“Homesnap’s advantage is the partnership it has fostered with large [multiple listing services] throughout the country, and that it isn’t a brokerage,” Rich Jacobson, a Realtor with Fathom Realty, said in a comment on Inman. “But Zillow’s biggest strength is their ability to attract consumer eyeballs.”
Homesnap takes a different approach to building its audience, targeting real estate agents and brokerages as clients through its proprietary technology tools and partnerships with real estate brokerages and multiple listing services (MLS).
Zillow, meanwhile, has long been unmatched as a consumer-facing portal and the pandemic has only entrenched its presence at the top. The company saw 236 million unique visitors to the Zillow platform, a quarterly record, in the third quarter of 2020.
And while Zillow does partner with the real estate industry through its Premier Agent advertising program and other partner agent programs, but many in the industry are often critical of the real estate tech giant and view it as competition.
Joe Rand, the executive director of BPP also hasn’t been shy about his ambitions to overtake Zillow and make BPP the industry’s number one real estate search portal. Rand did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Monday.
Still, for those expecting the acquisition to lead to a more “industry-friendly” alternative to Zillow, Russ Cofano, the chief strategy office of NexTitle and a veteran formerly with Move Inc and eXp Realty, said, in a comment on Inman’s Coast to Coast Face that, “from anecdotal comments from many of my commercial RE friends, CoStar is not seen as super industry-friendly.”
“Wondering how that will play out with the Broker Public Portal,” Cofano added.
And while some believe that CoStar will create competition for Zillow, others are worried that their real estate transaction data is now flowing to another industry giant, which has long been a complaint from some corners of the industry about Zillow.
“We didn’t learn our lesson with Zillow and now the MLSs are giving away the keys to our businesses,” Kevin Johnson, the CEO and managing broker of Century 21 OneBlue, said in a comment on Inman Coast to Coast. “Shameful.”
Leslie Ebersole, a real estate broker with BRIX Group at eXp Realty, said in a comment on Inman Coast to Coast, that, despite the acquisition, she hopes BPP, the MLSs and the brokerage community can work out a reasonable solution for continuing to use Homesnap. The partnership between the two has been active since 2016.
“I like Homesnap, a lot, and have hoped that BPP would further extend its use,” Ebersole said. “I’ve believed for some time that proprietary search tools are unnecessary for agents, brokers, and consumers.”
CoStar has dipped its toes into the residential real estate space in the past. Earlier this year, CoStar purchased Ten-X, the company behind real estate auction platform auction.com and its accompanying commercial auction platform ten-x.com. The company has also long had a presence in residential real estate rentals with its acquisition of Apartments.com.
Despite that minor presence, James Sanson, the leader of The Sanson Team at Keller Williams Realty Phoenix, thinks CoStar still “has a long long ways to go,” before it’s prominent in residential real estate.
“With them getting into the space I have to ask is Homesnap their residential brand now?” Sanson said in a comment.
The magnitude of the acquisition was not lost on those working as agents and for real estate brokerages, but still there are many questions and concerns remaining.
“This is huge,” Joe Manning, the chief marketing and technology officer at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale, said in a comment. “I don’t know how it will work together but very big.”