Just chatted with Brendan King and…

I believe him on two accounts:

  • He resigned (was not fired).
  • He is working on something interesting.

I won’t say (even if I knew) what he is up to but would be fascinated to hear some speculation on what the Point2 team members who left should build.   Is there any empty space left to build a niche in online real estate?  Would you start with consumers?  As an agents, is there a tool that you wish you had?

14 responses

  1. It makes me wonder if they had non-compete’s signed.

  2. Anon – They don’t need to compete with Point2 to be in the real estate tech field. (not that I know if they’ll even be in that field).

    Great questions Dustin, I’m going to have to ponder that…

  3. I can’t think of anything off hand.

    But this just popped in my head.

    Create a niche video site just for real estate agents. Make it an easy browser based tool that hook to your web cam, takes a video and then encodes it. This has been done already (can’t think of whom) but make it a site specificaly tailored to REALTORS and then it can auto post to their blog similar to how utterz can autopost

    Make it dirt cheap – like 5 bucks a year or something like tat

    hmmmm, nevermind i think youtube already can do that

  4. Loren: I love the response! 🙂

  5. I didn’t really have a comment on this post, I just wanted to let you know that the weather on this blog is horrible. It’s wicked cold and it the snow is relentless! 🙂

  6. Dustin, this may sound a bit jaded, but I don’t think it matters what technology niche is left unfilled or if they intend to fill one. As Brian correctly pointed out, technology is not a solution, it’s a tool. People (the vast, vast majority) aren’t effectively using the tools that are already available… what makes any of us think a new tool is going to come along to change that?

    The unfilled niche is a behavioral, not a technological. It’s focus would be on helping brokers execute on strategies to move their populations toward consistent and appropriate application of existing tools, and prepare them for whatever technology happens to come along to add value.

  7. Jeff: I think that is a bit simplistic… My take is that the reason that agents/brokers aren’t using the vast majority of tools is that they aren’t getting a good return on their time/investment. I happen to think that there is still at least an undeveloped tool or two in the real estate space that will happily engage consumers along the lines of Zillow.

    Call it the “Dustin Theory” (and people definitely got tired of hearing it around Move), but I’m convinced the reason the vast majority of online tools fail in the real estate space is that companies think they can appeal directly to agents and still find success online. Those tools that attract LOTS of consumers (think: Zillow, Trulia, even Realtor.com) have a much easier time getting adopted by real estate professionals. Online sites that primarily appeal to real estate professionals are almost inevitably missing the magic ingredient of consumers.

    I really don’t care if its a new CMS, new listing tool, new social network, new blogging tool, new MLS backend, or new analysis reports… If you can get enough consumer eyeballs, the real estate agents will follow.

  8. Dustin, I think you right on in your comments. The simple answer is to start with the consumer first.

    All really successful websites start at solving a particular problem for consumers in the simplest and most elegant way possible. If you build a real consumer grade application – i.e. easy to use, fast, simple, attractive, then traditional S curve adoption should happen. Once consumers are there, agents will follow.

    I think in real estate the opportunity is in search.

    Search – this is the most popular as it satisfies curiosity, encourages dreaming big, helps set life goals, Etc. The problem I see is that 99% of sites don’t actually provide access to ALL available inventory in the local area.

    I think consumers want to see every available property in their area – regardless if it is one of the 70% or so of agent represented listings or the 30% of FSBO listings. As an example, some of the large broker sites only display their own listings… not very pro-consumer.

    An example of this… if you are buying in Madison WI and you only search REALTOR.com the largest RE site, you are still missing over 20% of the total available listing inventory which is on fsbomadison.com.

    The consumer wants inventory. Think about “full access” in the real world. The movie theater with the most screens, the supermarket with the most products, the wine shop with the selection, itunes, amazon.com, google, the online investment broker with access to most investment products all tend to be the most successful.

    The new consumer wants access to it all; they want to narrow the properties they are most interested in first. They don’t want the agent as the filter / gatekeeper to which properties they will see.

    Obliviously all the RE sites are trying to solve this issue but many will have a hard time due to limitations of MLS rules, real estate agent interests and the current game of keeping up with each others features.

  9. […] Dustin said it perhaps best: I really don’t care if its a new CMS, new listing tool, new social network, new blogging tool, new MLS backend, or new analysis reports… If you can get enough consumer eyeballs, the real estate agents will follow. […]

  10. Dustin… I don’t think looking at the behavioral issues is simplistic at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Certainly all logic speaks to real estate agents going where the consumer is. We’ve talked about that here for years. But even in places where the consumer obvioulsy is, like Realtor.com, the behavior of the vast majority of real estate agents does not line up with what can be delivered if the technology already in existence were used to it’s fullest. That speaks to different issues than technology, or an unfilled niche.

    You are correct in stating that the majority are not seeing the return, but that’s only part of the problem. Those who use it correctly do see a return. So, it’s not that the returns aren’t there.

    We may be addressing two different questions.

  11. […] seems relevant to reiternate a comment I made a few weeks ago (thanks to Jim for reminding me of it!): “I really don’t care if its […]

  12. […] realize that you really can’t tell from our website what it is we are up to.  There is some speculation in the blogoshphere and some initial reports here and […]

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