US collaborative real estate initiative Broker Public Portal has signed an agreement with app creator Homesnap to launch a national home search experience defined by 'simplicity, integrity and common sense'. The program will be marketed under the Homesnap brand.
BPP Chairman and Realty USA CEO Merle Whitehead says Homesnap is one of the top-rated real estate app for consumers, while Homesnap Pro is one of the leading mobile apps for real estate pros.
“We selected Homesnap because it is a young, innovative company with a track record of creating highly engaging real estate apps and websites that align with our mission to deliver a straightforward consumer experience with a direct connection to real estate professionals,” Whitehead says.
“The Homesnap team is extremely bright, has proven that it can earn the respect of the MLSs that provision and safeguard real estate listings data, and absolutely has what it takes to build an outstanding product.”
According to Homesnap co-founders Guy Wolcott and Steve Barnes the partnership is a natural fit.
"We share the BPP’s vision of a single brand and unified platform that serves and connects both consumers and agents," says Wolcott, also Homesnap's CEO.
"Now, we’ve joined forces to make that vision a reality on a national scale. And we’ll be working even harder together to build the best tools for consumers, agents, brokers and MLSs.”
Barnes, the company's president adds agents want a portal they can trust to provide to their clients allowing them to stay close to their customers throughout the property search process.
"Homesnap is built that way. It follows the Fair Display Guidelines, a set of rules that ensures that the listing agent and the brokerage are THE information sources for their own inventory.
"Homesnap and the Broker Public Portal project will NEVER display anybody except the listing agent on a property.
"The site will NEVER sell advertising," he says.
"The whole goal here is to provide consumers a simple, easy to use, highly accurate and highly engaging way to learn about real estate in their local market in partnership with the agent and brokerage of their choice.”
What is Broker Public Portal
Broker Public Portal is an initiative formed by an unprecedented partnership between 115 MLSs and real estate companies, including franchisors, independent brands, big brokers, and small brokers, operating in diverse markets across the country and collectively representing over 500,000 real estate agents.
It has reportedly raised $500,000, and six months ago an LLC was formed with plans to raise funding for the project through local MLS participation.
The goal of this project is to provide consumers with a simple, easy to use, mobile-first solution to get real-time data directly from REALTORS themselves.
"In essence, the Broker Public Portal operates very much like a local MLS Consumer-facing website, but is a nationwide collaboration," writes Marilyn Wilson, a founding partner of US real estate consultancy WAV Group.
"We have learned from our years of research about MLS consumer websites that consumers really like these sites because they are unbiased, simple and allow them to connect directly to the brokerage and listing agent that is MOST familiar with the property.
"The consumers that use these sites are not looky-loos. They are the more serious buyer that is further down the sales funnel and serious about buying or selling a home," Wilson adds.
She believes MLSs around the country are passionately in support of the Broker Public Portal.
What supporters of BPP say
According to Wilson, Northstar MLS CEO John Mosey who also serves on the Executive Committee of the initiative, is one such supporter.
“We solidly believe that among our primary goals as an MLS is to help facilitate business growth for our brokers without interfering in any way with their own marketing programs and methods for differentiating themselves," Mosely says.
"We also believe that consumers deserve to benefit directly from the brokers and agents across the country that provide up to date, accurate and comprehensive property information to share with their clients through their MLSs.
"The Broker Public Portal provides consumers with unfettered access to listing information directly from those that know the most about the property – the listing agent and brokerage.
"We believe the BPP is going to provide a valuable option for consumers who want to engage directly with their own agent and the listing agent who are most well informed on the local market and individual listings.
"We cannot be more proud to be one of the markets leading this game-changing program,” he adds.
The price for MLSs to participate in the BPP is $1 per MLS subscriber per month – about the same that most MLSs pay today for just a mobile search solution.
For this, an MLS can now provide
Why the deal with Homesnap is important for real estate
Major real estate brokers who have ready access to MLS data often do not have the technology prowess or a realistic path to building a consumer audience without a partner or lots of money.
Inman.com says Homesnap will solve both problems, giving the BPP initiative a lift on all fronts and smacking down critics who say BPP is a dream that will never come true.
"This news tip hit me like a ton of bricks, making me realize how nascent consumer real estate portals may still be," says Inman.com's Brad Inman.
"Opportunity still abounds for new entrants who are capitalized or willing to partner with those that have ready access to the MLS data or with agile new startups.
"Search is a blue ocean of opportunity: Lifestyle search, predictive analytics and more sophisticated agent matching married with listing search are still fertile ground for innovation. Many clever startups are trying to outsmart the big boys.
"They include Placester, which powers listing search for a number of publishers; OpenHouse, which touts lifestyle-oriented listing search and agent matching; RealScout’s lifestyle search engine and Onboard Informatics that has three search engines."
Inman also quotes Merle Whitehead as saying underestimating the business acumen of these [BPP] leaders is a mistake.
"Our board of managers — which represents brokerage companies, franchisors and MLSs across the country — is an accomplished and committed group determined not to ‘out-Zillow Zillow’ but to create something that complements their own successful businesses,” Whitehead says.