John L. Scott breaks the mold

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In what is truly a bold move, John L. Scott (JLS), a midsize brokerage based here in the Pacific Northwest has recently updated its home page to include comparable sold data from the NWMLS.

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Entering an address (WA only, for now) into the site pulls up a simple map interface based on Microsoft's Virtual Earth technology. Recently sold properties are placed on the map and rolling your mouse over pulls up the specific data on each listing. You can further refine the search based on sell date, square footage and acreage, among other criteria as well.

As a consumer, there's lots to like about this tool. It's local, it's current and it's easy to navigate. (In many ways, I think this is what Zillow.com hopes to become once it has access to the full MLS data.) Best of all though, it lets me play nosy-neighbor and see how much that house down my street sold for.

Kudos to Bellevue-based Real Tech Solutions for developing this tool. (BTW, there must definitely be something in the water of Lake Washington that's causing innovative real estate technology companies to sprout up all over the Seattle area.)

That said though, right off the bat, I can't see the business rationale for introducing this tool – other than purely as a reaction to Zillow and the other new online players coming on the scene.The two biggest problems I see with this new tool are:

  • No Lead Generation – The site does not require you to register or even provide a name before your results are displayed. Other than an IP address, JLS gets nothing from its investment in this technology.
  • TMI (Too Much Information) – JLS is giving away the farm here and allowing me to FSBO my home more effectively. Why would I list with JLS, when by using their own data I can now CMA my home by myself and price it accordingly?

Other than a branding exercise (which I don't discount at all), I'm not sure what else JLS gains from this new tool in its current form. Can anyone else enlighten me?

(Full disclosure: I work for a competitor of John L. Scott) 

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