Shackprices Sheds the Shack

Shackprices, the Seattle based real estate search site, has relaunched itself under a new banner, now calling itself Estately (a much more dignified name, if you ask me). John Cook reports that the name change was prompted by a desire “to move away from the word ‘shack’.

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The company, which is a licensed broker with the NWMLS, has been in business for just under a year and is led by Galen Ward, a blogger at Rain City Guide.

Shackprices had always had one of the more innovative map-based search tools (see ShackPrices Makes For Fast Home Searching) and Estately continues that tradition. It seems that the smaller brokers often are able to pioneer these kinds of technological advances. Blueroof.com and Movoto also come to mind.

Estately has no plans to get involved in the buying and selling of real estate (at least not yet) and is using its MLS affiliation to gain access to the IDX feeds to populate its listing database.

Launched in tandem with the rebranding, Estately has also launched an Agent Match function which hopes to pair real estate buyers with agents. A pay-for-leads based model is not surprising, though ambitious. HouseValues and HomeGain are already heavily committed in this space.

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Estately promises to do it a little differently however. Agents are all prescreened by Estately and buyers can view ratings on every agent (see The Search for Perfect Agent). Buyers can identify their needs and agents can bid for their business (much like BuyerHunt). Ultimately, unlike HouseValues and HomeGain, the final decision remains with the buyer to choose the agent they want to work with. Estately gets paid a percentage of the commission for the referral.

It remains to be seen whether Estately can truly make a go with this model. Many companies have tried and failed before them. Barring that, its options are pursuing an advertising model or alternatively, it could license its technology to other brokers nationwide looking to give their web sites a facelift.

I suspect the later will ultimately be the best course for them, but in the interim, I’m rooting for them to pull it off.