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This post has been republished with permission from Mike DelPrete.
Tucked away in Opendoor’s recent earnings call was an enlightening statement by its CEO, Eric Wu, which sheds light on its exclusive supply strategy.
Why it matters: Exclusive content is a strategy being driven by VC-funded real estate tech disruptors, with important implications for consumers and a spotty track record of success.
- A possible endgame for Opendoor is to match exclusive supply with demand directly — off the MLS — through an Opendoor ecosystem.
The benefits to Opendoor are clear: avoiding agent commissions, controlling the consumer experience start to finish, and streamlining the sales process.
- Remember when Zillow thought Opendoor was an existential threat to its business? This is why.
Opendoor is not alone in wanting to build a supply of exclusive inventory to draw consumers to its private platform.
- Another VC-funded disruptor, Aalto, is a private marketplace that doesn’t rely on the MLS.
Compass also uses exclusive content to drive consumers directly to its platform, a clear endgame for the business.
- Compass encourages sellers to list exclusively and privately on its platform.
- Nearly a quarter of Compass’ current listings are exclusive; a homebuyer has to call a Compass agent for access.
Yes, but: This isn’t new.
- These models are similar to the recently defunct REX, which, starting in 2015 and with over $100 million in venture capital, was the “first full-service real estate agency that does not use the MLS.”
- REX eventually bit the bullet and joined several MLSs in late 2021, before closing up shop in early 2022.
The rise of exclusive content in real estate risks fragmenting the search and discovery process — with considerable implications for consumers.
- Buyers lose easy access to a complete view of the market by being forced to visit multiple sites (or call an agent like it’s 1995).
- For sellers, it fragments and artificially reduces the number of possible buyers, which could lead to less demand and a lower price for a property.
The bottom line: There is incredible value to whoever controls the home search platform. In the U.S., that’s Zillow, Realtor.com and hundreds of MLSs.
- New platforms — leveraging exclusive content — are a significant threat to these incumbent platforms.
- So far, the benefit to consumers is questionable.