HousingStack is a real estate technology landscape that provides a dynamic visual that reflects the rapid changes in the sector. For a limited time, the HousingStack will be accessible to all HousingWire readers. Once Phase 2 launches in a few weeks, it will exclusively be for HW+ members. Go here to view the HousingStack.
First off, there are so many ways to segment the HousingStack that I erred on the side of simplicity.
You can argue that certain products fit into more than one category, and I’ll continue to refine categories and sub-categories. But the general scenario I locked into here was opportunity flow. Lead generation, lead management and nurturing, lead conversion, transaction management, operations management and closing management.
I’ll get into each category as we continue to roll out the content/participants, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
For this initial category, the focus is on “lead generation.” Again, you could argue that many companies straddle lead generation, management, nurturing, etc. Frankly, some of these companies provide solutions that could conceivably run an entire business. But I could argue that the primary value proposition for many/most of the organizations and products is to generate leads from the millions of potential buyers and sellers out there searching online.
There’s no shortage of players in the space that are focused on helping convert as many of those folks as possible into leads (known contacts with an understanding of intent, timeframe, budget and other important insights).
Zillow has created one of the most trafficked set of web properties on the planet over the last fifteen years. With about 173 million unique real estate “addicts” visiting Zillow sites 8.1 billion times in 2019, you simply can’t deny the importance and value of that magnet for consumer eyeballs. To be clear, their visitor count is the equivalent of 74% of the adult U.S. population.
Some of the companies in this category have been at it since the mid-90s. Realtor.com, Homes.com, HomeGain, HomeFinder and RealtyTrac have been generating traffic, and leads, for real estate professionals for more than 20 years. Since 2014, Point2 Homes joined this group after many years of delivering agent sites and syndication services.
While there are certainly many more, including a diverse set of highly targeted properties out there, there’s a clear concentration and dominance within the 20 players and even just the top five. What matters most, however, is the quality of the leads generated.
Lead and referral networks
If the portals were the first wave, the next wave has been the emergence of lead and referral networks. Some flow consumers in from various sites and landing pages, while others rely on agents to share opportunities that don’t fit their ideal profile or market. Still, others take on the responsibility of nurturing leads until they’re conversion-ready. But what they all try to do is to get as much detail as possible about prospective buyers and sellers to provide enriched leads. It’s no surprise why they want to pass off the most qualified leads. Most of these organizations generate their revenue through referral fees that sometimes top 30% of the agent’s commission.
Companies like UpNest, Homelight, LemonBrew, Agent Pronto and many others entice consumers by offering to help them find “the perfect agent.” Companies like Roosted, Really, Opcity and Proxio tie you into referrals from other agents and or that they create and nurture.
The goal of these networks is to reduce the amount of time an agent needs to spend figuring out what’s a real opportunity and what’s just noise. Clearly there’s value in that because these companies keep popping up.
Websites and mobile pps
Since the advent of websites, real estate professionals have needed one. Some (many) have more like three or four, and there’s no shortage of options. Beyond sites, many website providers have also integrated CRMs (we’ll get to that section separately) mobile apps, automated marketing solutions, market reports, and the list goes on and on. But one thing’s certain: all websites and IDX providers in the space focus heavily on lead-generation techniques to help get potential buyers and sellers into your funnel.
Do you want custom-tailored where you can pick out every aspect? Do you want something you can configure and have up and running in weeks? Do you want to just take an IDX plug-in and embed it into an existing site? Do you want mobile-friendly, mobile-first or mobile-only?
Companies like Real Estate Webmasters, Delta Media Group, Tribus and Union Street Media will deliver a custom site based on a highly consultative approach. Then there are more configurable options like Onjax, Reliance Network, REfindly and BlueRoof360. Mind you, there are loads more companies. Then there are plug-ins that allow you to offer listings search and much more such as HomeJunction, IDXPro, RealScout and ShowcaseIDX.
And we can’t forget all of the configurable mobile search apps that help agents stay top of mind on consumers’ phones. Companies like HomeSpotter, SmarterAgent, Homesnap and HomeStack help agents and brokerages deliver a rich, branded mobile experience.
Digital marketing, advertising and syndication
It probably doesn’t make sense to lump these altogether, but I’m going to do it anyway. There are all kinds of digital marketing and marketing automation systems that we’ll get to. Some of those could certainly be categorized as lead generation tools, but I’m focusing on companies that are more geared toward lead generation rather than nurturing or communication.
Systems like Buyside, CallAction, Zurple, BoldLeads, Profusion360 and espresso Agent focus on helping you identify and convert leads either on their digital platforms or by integrating their systems into your existing websites, CRMs, marketing automation tools, etc. Their main focus is on lead generation as opposed to engagement or communication.
Then there are the systems that help you to push your listings out to hundreds of destinations to create a broad net for prospective buyers. While ListHub is the staple in this space, there are companies like RealBird, and Cevado that have their own take on syndication services, with Point2 transferring their syndication services to ListHub in 2014.
And finally, an area with a small but growing set of options targeted for real estate practitioners is the advertising segment. There are a couple options I’d highlight here, with Adwerx being by far the most widely recognized for their use of custom audience definition, targeting and retargeting to help keep your brand in front of your prospects and leads. And lesser known SnappSearch allows you to bring your listing inventory to the consumer in a digital ad unit.
Wrapping it up
I know there are many products and companies missing from these ranks, and I can’t wait to get everyone included in the HousingStack, properly categorized and updated with their latest details. Given that lead generation is one of the most crowded spaces, with nearly 100 products and companies identified and growing, it’s clear that there’s no shortage of demand for these products and services. To a large extent, nearly all companies that provide products and services to real estate practitioners can claim that they provide lead generation services.
There’s a lot of noise out there with companies and pundits telling you the way to succeed is to add x, y, or z, technology to the mix. If you’re a practitioner, I hope you use this to understand what’s available to you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “I didn’t even know that was possible!”
Knowledge is power, so I hope this equips you to start understanding the possibilities and choices. There are plenty of people out there who can help you evaluate what’s best for you, but it starts with you.
The next segment I’ll tackle is lead management and nurturing, which will highlight a whole new set of providers, products and challenges. But I hope this has been a good start and that this begins to provide some clarity and insight for those looking for solutions, looking at who’s who or just trying to better understand the space.
The HW+ HousingStack is a real estate technology landscape. It provides a dynamic visual that reflects the rapid changes in the sector, displaying information and facts on what is happening in the real estate industry as close to real time as possible. We’re not here to tell you who we think is better. We’re here to try to give you the most robust, accurate and thoughtful assessment of the products, companies and categories in the space. The HousingWire team is actively updating this visual. If you still feel like a company was left out or requires some updates, fill out this form.