Timing is Everything…

On the Friday before the long-weekend I was handed a DVD from a friend at Move with only a basic overview. (He said something to the effect of “just watch it… it was produced by homestore in the dot com days and a bunch of office decorations and inside jokes will make a lot more sense…”)

[photopress:home_movie.jpg,thumb,alignright]Well, back in the dot com days when I was an engineer in a relatively boring industry, the people at Move (then known as HomeStore) were obviously having a lot more fun… Seriously, having a lot more fun is the only way to explain the “Chris Smith

MOVE.com – a strategic shift

We, here in the Seattle area, are in the unique position of seeing first hand, the coming of change. There is no place in this country on a parallel path with technology and the future, like the Seattle area. The hiring of Dustin Luther by Move.com is as significant as Realtor.com BECOMING Move.com It is a sign that the butterfly may finally be springing from its cocoon. MOVE hiring Dustin Luther as the Director of Consumer Innovations, is the starting bell we have all been waiting for, announcing the metamorphosis to come, in an industry long overdue for change.

Back in October, when Realtor.com hired Allan Dalton as President of Realtor.com http://www.realtor.org/realtororg.nsf/pages/realtorcompres?OpenDocument it appeared to be simply another dose of “same old; same old”. I attended Allan’s recent “seminar” in Bellevue earlier this year, and left with the feeling that he was somehow chastising the industry at large and its professionals in the room. It was as if he were screaming “embrace change or BE changed!”

I am sitting here with my signed copy of “REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY GUIDE” authored by the “Tres Amigos”, Saul Klein, John Reilly and Mike Barnett of Internet Crusade. These three men have almost “single handedly” moved the real estate industry into the present with regard to technology, since they met one another in 1995. And yet it would seem that they too are screaming “embrace change or BE changed!”

The hiring of Dustin Luther by “MOVE” is a huge pendulum swing from the hiring of Allan Dalton by “REALTOR.com”

It is a sign that the movers and shakers of this industry may be attempting to “moult from their skins”. For too many years they have lain constrained in the hardened cocoon they themselves have weaved. Like the “constrainedness of the caterpillars and chrysalises, their range of activity and movement has been very little as they have been cumbersomely tied to their food source”, the REALTOR organization.

[photopress:dustin_1.jpg,full,alignright] Time and again we have seen the cocoon harden around the “would be” innovators. Will the industry escape? Is the hiring of Dustin Luther and the Title: Director of “Consumer Innovations”, a sign that the largest and most powerfull conveyor of national home listing info, may be willing to shed its REALTOR shackles and MOVE into the consumer’s long awaited public venue? With the hiring of the white butterfly, instead of another caterpillar needing a food source, I am hopeful. I am very hopeful.

Adding Some Sun to Rain City Guide

I’m extremely excited to announce that I’ve accepted a position with Move (HOMS) as the Director of Consumer Innovations.

Until recently, Move was known as HomeStore and they (we!) are the people who run Realtor.com, HomeBuilder.com, RentNet, Welcome Wagon, and a few other sites… The idea behind the Move brand is that we’ll be creating a one-stop-shop for connecting consumers with comprehensive real estate information and expertise.

No surprise that this will be a huge change for me and my family. Not only are we moving to Southern California, but I will now have some actually time to spend pushing the boundaries of online real estate technology (I’m no longer a transportation engineer!?!). What a difference a year of blogging can make!

I imagine that there might be a question or two I could answer about this change, but I’ll save the answers to what? why? how? and when? for future posts.

List of the Most innovative Search Sites

Innovative Real Estate TechnologiesThere are so many interesting real estate search sites that are pop up every day, and in the process of trying to cover all of them in a blog format, I think things have gotten a little too scattered. So I took a little time this evening and put all of the sites that I’m aware of on one page along with a few notes about them. Check it out at:

At this point, I’ve broken all of the sites into four categories:

  • National Sites: major MLS and FSBO sites
  • Regional Sites: smaller data sets that are yet to go national
  • Specialty Sites: sold data, property information, etc.
  • Vaporware: still waiting for a product…

This beauty of making this list on a webpage instead of a blog post is that it will be much more fluid. I always feel awkward about updating a blog entry after I’ve posted it, but I’ll feel no qualms about updating this list on a regular basis. Along those lines, if you know of an innovative real estate tool that I’ve missed, please let me know!

Where the Streets Have No Name…

Grand View
Part I: Background
Just when I thought I was getting a handle on the players in the future of real estate search, today’s news unleashes a whole new set of opportunities! “Homestore, Inc., the leading provider of real estate media and technology solutions, today announced that Elevation Partners, a private equity firm, has agreed to invest $100 million in Homestore…”

Since I’ve been covering real estate search, I’ve had numerous emails, chats, conversations, etc. from real estate agents who think that I should highlight more of the companies that are working to improve the MLS instead of the companies that are looking to replace it!

More than anyone else, Homestore represents the hope that someone will provide an awesome, nationwide, competitive real estate search based on the current MLS system.

Why? Homestore already operates the largest real estate database, i.e.the database that operates Realtor.com.

Now mix together (1) the only complete nationwide MLS database (that I’m aware of), (2) $100M to improve operations, and (3) some VERY accomplished tech visionaries, and I’d imagine that expectations are set very high.

For Homestore, Elevation Partners brings a former Apple star, a former Electronic Arts star, a Silicon Valley star, and of course, a rock star… There are enough opportunities to make one’s head buzz… I’m thinking:

  • Real estate listings on my iPod
  • Simcity interface for home search
  • Home listing videos done MTV-style

Okay, so maybe my head started spinning a little too much! Back on planet earth, I’d say that all the players (Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Google, etc.) building innovative home search tools should keep a close eye on Homestore. They already “own” a complete and nationwide set of real estate data (ownership in the sense that they have “possession”!). Should they start putting together some innovative tools, they have leverage that others are going to find hard to beat!

Part II: Where the Streets have No Name
I want to run
I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls
That hold me inside
I want to reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name

Part III: Your Mission Should you Wish to Accept It
Imagine that you’ve been invited to 2800 Sand Hill Road to discuss the future of real estate with Roger McNamee, Fred Anderson, Bono, John Riccitiello, John Doerr, and Joe Hanauer.

What do you tell them? What features do you want to see in real estate search? If you are an agent, what is the biggest pain that someone could fix with a technical solution? If you are a buyer, what are the major gaps you see in the current system? What information do you wish you had?

I know that some of my readers have some great ideas. Please share as much as you’re willing. Remember that these guys want to work “within” the current system (i.e. cooperate with real estate agents!), and, most importantly, these people are thinking huge… $100M huge!