A New Kind Of House Hunt: Real Estate v.2.0

I’ve noticed something in my metropolitan Seattle neighborhood recently: red and white signs popping up where John L. Scott, Windermere and Coldwell Banker signs formerly snuggled comfortably into the ground.

With home sales slowing, sellers are trying to find more creative ways to list their properties and save on selling costs. One of those ways? Getting rid of the middleman.

2006 and 2007 brought an onslaught of online real estate companies designed to automate the buying and selling process as a broker, saving both the buyer and the seller money.

Four of the most well-known companies in this category are Trulia, Zillow, Terabitz and Redfin. Despite the slump in the real estate market, all four have received great amounts of funding from large VCs within the last two years.

All of this got me thinking...

The idea that a product could sell even in a market slump is an interesting one. And even though real estate has cooled off in most parts of the world, these companies are still trending upwards, though not as quickly as first anticipated. They provide a cheap alternative to selling and marketing in an otherwise deteriorating market.

The clear benefit that buyers and sellers alike see in these companies is the elimination of the middleman. And some of these sites, specifically Trulia, are becoming more and more user-friendly.

Case in point?

Trulia launched their new Trulia Publisher Platform in January, allowing publishers use their search technology, with listings, under the umbrella of a publisher’s co-branding, all at no cost to the publisher. This is essentially the real estate world’s equivalent of using Google AdSense to advertise properties, but in a much more cost- efficient way.

It’s a win-win. Publishers get real estate-related traffic back from Trulia, and users get the benefit of co-branding with larger publishers. Mark my word, this will change the game of web marketing and advertising for real estate.

Zillow’s answer to Trulia’s Publisher Platform is a new feed format that will work in conjunction with Trulia – but stay tuned -- more on that tomorrow.

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