John Cook’s Venture Blog had an update to the Zillow story… and this time it has to do with the relationship between Zillow’s founder (Rich Barton) and the man (Barry Diller) who bought his company, Expedia, who just happens to be developing a new real estate brokerage that will begin operations in the Pacific Northwest.
My guess is that Barry Diller wouldn’t be venturing into the real estate brokerage business unless he felt he could use his Internet empire to create something of unique value. (Otherwise, if he really wanted to own a traditional real estate company, he could just buy one of the many local firms!) My guess is that he (and the people at realestate.com that work for him) are developing a home search tool that they feel would really benefit consumers. From what I’ve read of Zillow, they are definitely building some type of system that will simplify (or at least improve) the home buying/selling experience. My guess is that Barry Diller up to something similar?
On a side note, I really like Tom Dozier’s insight that we are quite possibly seeing a bubble of local real estate sites! With each passing day, I feel more confident that the real estate search landscape will look completely different one year from now… With the only people guaranteed to win in this situation being the home buying/selling public!
Also of interest, I received an email today from someone of the big real estate firms here in the Northwest where the writer let me know that they have already developed a home search site based on one of the on-line mapping services, and that they will likely be rolling the site out in the near future. This confirms my suspicions that sites like MLSMapsOnline and ShackPrices will really have to develop some major innovations (and this doesn’t just mean more or less pull down menus!) or they can expect to be quickly forgotten. From what I’ve seen so far, any major player (Microsoft, Windermere, RealEstate.com, etc) could build a comparable site for less than $50,000, and while $50K might mean something to these start-ups, it is almost inconsequential to the larger firms.