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"Branding Your Online Presence"


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8/6/99 Interview with Alan Daniels

RealEstate.com
3333 Peachtree Rd. NE, Suite 150
Atlanta, GA 30326
Biography

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The Mission of RealEstate.com

  1. RealEstate.com provides an end-to-end solution for the industry and a faster, cheaper, more efficient connection with the consumer looking to initiate a Real Estate transaction online.
  2. By maintaining an environment of neutrality, the site avoids competing with listing database providers such as Realtor.com and HomeAdvisor; the company has the ability to work with any Real Estate entity.
  3. Currently, over 200 lenders participate and bid for loans in the Mortgage Auction; the back-end tools of RealEstate.com facilitate closing the loan and generating commissions for both Realtor and lender.
  4. The site provides the industry with tools that save money and time so that fewer consumers drop out of transactions.
The Mortgage Auction

  1. The consumer enters the site and completes a loan application; RealEstate.com generates a credit file on the applicant from all three credit bureau and posts the application on the auction block anonymously; participating lenders bid for that consumer's business.
  2. The process increases the consumer's chance of getting a lower rate and fee package; the lender acquires the lead more cheaply (paying only when a bid is won) and is able to pre-screen the consumer. 3. At the end of the bidding process, RealEstate.com calculates all of the rates and fees and identifies the lowest annual percentage rate to qualify the winning lender, who gets an exclusive connect to the applicant.
Benefits for the Realtor

  1. Getting the loan closed faster and more efficiently moves the transaction along for the Realtor.
  2. Other back-end services besides the Mortgage Auction are also provided to facilitate the transaction; one is an Appraisal and Closing Portal that allows a lender to submit orders to vendors in other states.
  3. A proprietary Property Analysis provided by RealEstate.com can be incorporated on a Realtor's site for a nominal fee; consumers can use the tool to generate an analysis right from your site - an advantage in attracting both sellers and buyers.
  4. An example of a Realtor who has closed significant business through use of the Property Analysis is Jerry Fowler of Columbia, SC.
  5. You can safely refer clients to the site, which protects your exclusive relationship because it does not introduce consumers to Realtors.
The Property Analysis Program

  1. The online product, evolved from RESICOM, has a suite of seven reports, four that are Commercial related and three that are Residential; the consumer can generate a report on any property in the country, and the Realtor gets qualifying feedback on the lead.
  2. The reports identify the historical rate of appreciation, the likelihood of future appreciation, an equity analysis advising how to build equity upon making the purchase, and demographics; reports print out with a notice that the report is "Compliments of..." - the site the consumer used.
  3. The product notifies the Realtor whose site was used about the consumer's interest (including when they are expecting to buy or sell); the notification goes out by email.
  4. The Realtor can then use a pro-active transaction builder to contact the consumer with an offer to represent him.
  5. The Property Analysis Program is available to both Residential and Commercial Realtors for use on their pages by subscription from RealEstate.com; the rate is $35/month.
The Uniqueness of RealEstate.com Services

  1. The site offers technology based solutions to industry problems and provides tools that actually generate transactions.
  2. By using the Appraisal and Closing Portal and the Mortgage Document Verification Service, lenders can accomplish much of their back-end work more quickly than they can do it themselves; the latter tool verifies an applicant's personal information needed to close the transaction.
  3. By educating the consumer, RealEstate.com makes the entire Real Estate process more efficient; the business model is consumer driven in many respects.
Developments in the Works

  1. More tools will become available on the site this year to help drive transactions for Real Estate pros; a higher volume of transactions will benefit the entire industry.
  2. The company wants to make consumers feel more comfortable so that the purchase decision is easy for them; focus group research shows that consumers are so fearful of the transaction that any small obstacle can make them fall out.
  3. The site is loaded with user friendly tools such as Q & A, Dictionary, Property Analysis, and Home Search to make the consumer feel educated going into the transaction.
  4. As consumer confidence in the site builds, that confidence will transfer to the Real Estate professionals who participate in the site.
How to Establish an Online Presence

  1. Understand that the concept of branding applies to building your reputation online through association with good online products and services.
  2. It is desirable to identify a partner such as RealEstate.com that is positioned to build a powerful brand, that is objective, and that is not taking a percentage of your fees; the time to do that is now, when the Internet is growing exponentially.
  3. Get to know your partners well; understand their products and services so that you can use them to your advantage.
Geographical Coverage of RealEstate.com

  1. The service is not geographically exclusive, but if you are an America Online subscribing Realtor, you can receive referrals of consumers doing property searches in your territory.
  2. RealEstate.com has tested allowing Realtors with an interest in certain areas to register for referrals on a 3-ZIP code format; the Realtor list is conveyed to the consumer and the consumer information is conveyed to the Realtors.
  3. Being listed in the "Find an Agent" directory on the RealEstate.com main page is open to any Realtor as a courtesy; you may create a link to your own page.
Vision for the Future

  1. Daniels favors sites that provide good, objective information such as Inman.com and Hoovers.com.
  2. The Internet should be seen as a tool to make the Real Estate process more efficient and as a critical source for the origination of transactions.
  3. As part of its information service to consumers, RealEstate.com will put them in touch with Realtors; the subtle, third-party endorsement of a referral is invaluable to Realtors.
  4. Whereas the mortgage process can go from beginning to end online, the Realtor's work off-line will continue to be vital.
Contact Information for Alan Daniels:

(v) 800-896-0929
(f) 404-231-9893
(e) afdaniels@realestate.com
(w)www.RealEstate.com


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Mortgage Auction
Appraisal & Closing Portal
Jerryfowler.com
Find an Agent Directory
Inman.com
Hoovers.com