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"Technology Ashes to Gold!"


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4/4/03 Interview with Tom Orsi

Homes.com Inc.
978-739-9154
Palo Alto, CA 94066
Biography

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Update on Homes.com's Recovery

  1. The reorganized company has rebounded from its bankruptcy in 2001, and forecasts show continued profitability; operations are stabilized under a completely new management team.
  2. The strategy of getting back to the basics of providing good service to make its agent/broker customers more successful and putting real estate buyers and sellers together has worked.
  3. Homes.com offers brokers and agents a website product that improves the efficiency of their businesses and generates leads for them that result in sales commissions.
Web Site Support from Homes.com

  1. Many web sites of real estate agents lack eye appeal and are not sufficiently personalized to make them attractive to consumers; Homes.comworks with its professional real estate clients to achieve both of those qualities on agent/broker sites.
  2. Other goals are to make client sites content rich and easy to use because consumers are looking for good content and ease of navigation.
  3. Important elements of content include such things as commuting times;mortgage data; shopping, school, crime and other community information;virtual tours; quality and quantity of listings directly on the site and through IDX and other vehicles; moving and home improvement information; and tax and insurance information.
  4. Excellent content on an agent's site leads to an enriching consumer experience and higher probability that the consumer will contact that agent.
Advice for Starting or Upgrading a Web Site

  1. Evaluate what you need in the way of content, functionality for the consumer and functionality for your own back-office operations.
  2. Understand what flexibility is available through any set of templates that you may decide to use, consider whether you would be able to adequately customize your site; also evaluate how easy the template site is to use for both visitors and yourself.
  3. Back-office considerations include contact management capability,availability of marketing materials, scheduling capability and transaction management information; all impact productivity and quality of service.
The Importance of Lead Generation

  1. An even more important criterion for considering having a site with a web provider is lead generation power; lead generation from Homes.com is enhanced by the cumulative impact of the appearance, content and functionality that the company supports on its agents' clients' sites.
  2. Also look at where the web provider will place your site through distribution partners and at the quality and quantity of listings the provider has to attract consumers.
  3. Homes.com has agreements with portals such as Yahoo! and E-Bay for placement of its agent-broker sites; Homes.com (an intuitive url) is also well used as a direct resource by real estate consumers nationwide.
  4. The result is that Homes.com agent-sites attract targeted traffic, consumers interested in the area a particular agent serves.
  5. The use of multiple web sites is a strategy many agents use to increase their exposure to consumer traffic and the possibility of leads from an umber of different sources; secondary sites can feed to one central site.
More to Consider with Web Providers

  1. Company quality and stability are important as well as the quality of support; in the end, a web site is valuable only to the degree you use it effectively, up front coaching and ongoing support from the provider are necessary.
  2. Support should cover introduction to the complete functionality of the site and prompt help with problems.
Listings Controversy

  1. The fact that Microsoft's HomeAdvisor is getting out of the listings business is evidence that the industry cannot support paying a lot of money to provide listings.
  2. The revenue flow to MLSs is dissipating; the movement toward IDX and VOW swill change how people get listings and what they are willing to pay, which will impact the behavior of MLSs.
  3. The full consequence of VOWs remains an open question at least until the NAR position towards them becomes clear.
Enticements for Consumers to Return to a Site

  1. Agents who develop a site through Homes.com's Agent Advantage offer visitors the appeal of a site that looks good and has significant content; the site also introduces the visitor to the agent via a solid profile of the agent that emphasizes experience.
  2. The goal of the agent site is to get as close as possible to a personal experience with the agent in his or her office; the visitor needs to get an understanding of who the agent is and what the agent provides.
The Competition

  1. The biggest competitors of Homes.com today are other national providers, especially Homestore; there are also players on a regional level.
  2. The huge advantage of the national companies is that they represent national listing service that allows consumers to come to the portal and look at listings anywhere.
  3. The smaller, more localized providers lack the financial resources to expand and build a comparable listings service.
  4. The number of leads generated for an agent is more important than the number of listings offered or the volume of traffic.
Looking Ahead

  1. Expect consolidation in the web provider field with some regional providers going out of business or being bought out; Homes.com is interested in acquiring regional providers and companies for supplementary services.
  2. In the future, Homes.com expects to offer products to measure the value of leads and productivity benefits.
Contact Information for Tom Orsi:

(v) 949-248-4277
(f) 949-240-7326
(e) torsi@homes.com
(w)www.homes.com


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Homes.com
Homeadvisor.com
houseandhome.msn.com
Homestore.com