I’m slowly catching up from beneath a mountain of interesting news that was announced over the last week.
One such item is that HomeScape has rebranded itself as HomeFinder.com – presumably to respark some enthusiasm for a brand that, for all intents and purposes, has been off most people’s radar for the last few years.
HomeFinder.com is a product of Classified Ventures, the online conglomerate owned by media titans Belo, Gannett, McClatchy, Tribune and The Washington Post. Classified Ventures also owns resurgent HomeGain which, with the help of an orange ape, has successfully clawed back some mindshare from the big Web 2.0 ventures over the last several months.
HomeScape flew under the radar for a while since it was largely in the business of powering real estate website for newspapers, which included the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, Newsday and The Arizona Republic.
But with the rebrand to HomeFinder.com I suspect it means the company intends to double-down and focus on building out the portal as a legitimate destination for consumer traffic. Indeed, with the help of their media parents’ reach, they could make a serious run at the top 10.
The fact that real estate brands’ ad dollars are now seriously starting to chasing online destinations (see Century 21 Ditches TV for Online) no doubt helped seal that decision.
According to company sources, HomeFinder.com has over 3 million listings, pulled from a mix of MLS sources and broker feeds. They have over 2 million unique visitors a month — and, of that traffic, much of it is truely unique: 71% of consumers visiting HomeFinder do not visit Realtor.com and 84% of visitors do not visit Trulia.
Nevertheless, the new site is pretty generic; the design is inoffensive, but frankly pretty bland. Compared to Frontdoor (another Big Media play in this space) it lacks a certain splash of personality. However, that said, technically it’s quite competent.
What I’d love to see though is for these big media guys to take a long hard look of some of the innovators that are really pushing the envelope when it comes to search design (Estately for example) and see if there wasn’t a way to marry that technology with their marketing muscle. That would make for a truely interesting relaunch.