Cyberhomes and Realtor.com

Cyberhomes has Realtor.com in their cross-hairs.

For the real estate buyers/sellers/consumers in the Charlottesville area – which site has better, more useful data, and data display, for your house?

Realtor.com has the current listing data:

Realtor.com - 3 million listings

But Cyberhomes has more data, and is working on acquiring the “current” data.
Cyberhomes 100Million-1

From an (subscription required) Inman News Article in May:

Fidelity will keep property listings content fresh at the Cyberhomes site by updating brokers’ data directly from MLSs, said Marty Frame, senior vice president and chief information office for Fidelity National Real Estate Solutions, a division of Fidelity National Financial Inc.

In addition to past sales and for-sale home information, Cyberhomes also offers “heat maps” that allow consumers to visualize data on a map that is color-coded for home values, changes in value and property density at the neighborhood level. Zillow, Trulia and PropertyShark are among the other real estate sites that offer a variety of heat maps.

The New York Times has gotten rid of its pay firewall. So has The Economist. Why not Realtor.com? Consumers simply don’t want to register to get data they can usually get elsewhere. The MLS data is already distributed near and far and diluted so much that the best Realtor.com can do is do what the competitors are doing – but better. Leverage the value that is remaining to put themselves at the top.

I’ve written a lot about Realtor.com over the years, and there has been an awful lot written in the RE.net. Right now, it remains the #1 destination for homebuyers who are searching for homes.

Cyberhomes, however is moving forward – rapidly. This is what consumers want:

users can also learn about the neighborhood and community, including the weather, economy, commute times, diversity, even air/water quality.

As a Realtor, that is what I want to provide to my customers.

Users don’t have to login to either Realtor.com and Cyberhomes, but here is one of the many distinct (and detrimental to Realtor.com) differences between the two. To get the “value” of a home in Cyberhomes, create a login, search and get this data-rich page with options – neighborhood, schools appreciation rates, demographic information:

Cyberhomes

Do the same search on Realtor.com, and users get this roadblock:

Realtor.com

1) They don’t have the data.
2) There is no way to choose “your” Realtor, among other deficiencies noted earlier this year.

When you do find a home you like, there is nothing more than information on the property itself (and there is no “maximum square footage” search limitation – only “minimum square feet” – a significant limitation in the search).

It’s been said before – consumers want all the information, they want it now and they want it for free.

Cyberhomes has the potential to move up the ladder in of usefulness for on the list of “Empowered Buyers’ Online Tools.

Take this example – I was previewing a home for a couple this past week. My clients have never been to Augusta County, west of Charlottesville. I walked through the home and gave an audio tour as I took photos (and a short video) that I posted on a website for them later that morning. While leaving the property, I noticed a library nearby; as close proximity to a library is one of their primary needs, I called them to let them know. They replied, “yes, we saw that already!” – they are doing their research online, looking at much more than just the home itself – they want to know what the area is like.

Buyers are buying much more than just a house – they are also buying their Monday Mornings. The first site to implement this need for rich and deep information for the real estate market – wins.

Realtor.com needs choose which customer it wants to serve – either the consumer or the Realtor.

Why doesn’t Cyberhomes just buy Move? See Move’s stock below –

Move.com's stock price in 2007

Cyberhomes has quite a way to go to build their traffic though …


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7 Comments

  1. Amy Marshall October 22, 2007 at 11:18

    Ok, I tried Cyberhomes out – but I don’t really like the interface as much as I like Curbplaces.com (which I think is just local, right?). But both places fail to give me as much detail and photographs as the caar.com site, so I probably won’t use them.

    I mean, cool info from Cyberhomes about the area – but I can’t tell why certain homes are popping up, selecting/pinpointing a search area isn’t intuitive, and the interface is twitchy and I couldn’t make it bigger on my screen for easier use. Also, I’d still like to be able to narrow my search by cost, bedroom #, etc.

    Caar.com is still my fave – though I wish that site would help you find things by street b/c I don’t always know the zip code of a house I see for sale when driving by!!

  2. Mr. Chicago Real Estate October 22, 2007 at 13:54

    With regards to traffic levels of Cyberhomes, yea, I’d say so as well. You hardly hear anything about Cyberhomes, but Trulia and Zillow are always on the move in the PR department. Coming from a marketing background, they need to work on that aspect a little bit more.

  3. Jim Duncan October 22, 2007 at 15:44

    Amy – Thanks for the comment. I agree that Curbplaces is good and that mycaar.com is better for quality of data – I expect that one of these national companies is ultimately going to get the majority of the data – eventually.

    I’d like to see more innovation and more surrounding information on our local site, much like Cyberhomes provides.

    Chicago –

    I agree that Zillow and Trulia are trouncing them from a marketing/social networking point of view. I’m curious as to whether Cyberhomes is focusing on the product first and then will reach out to marketing … maybe they need the right person to run point for them.

  4. Daniel Rothamel October 22, 2007 at 16:20

    Great analysis, Jim.

    The main issue for all the REALTOR.com competitors is that REALTOR.com has the one thing they all need– established traffic. NAR and individual REALTORS spend a lot of time effort and money promoting the brand, and REALTOR.com benefits. There are not 1 million Trulia or Zillow reps out there who can push the brand. REALTORS, on the other hand, are not in short supply (for better or worse).

    The thing that burns me up is that REALTOR.com doesn’t do anything to improve. If REALTOR.com would simply add some of the features found on the sites of their competitors, they would have a tremendous site with enormous traffic. Sounds like a winner to me.

    REALTOR.com is a victim of its own success (or traffic). Because their market share is so huge, they don’t see a compelling reason to change. According to your compete.com stats, if Zillow DOUBLED its traffic tomorrow, it would still only tie REALTOR.com. Of course, if and when REALTOR.com traffic starts to drop, it may be too late for them to react.

  5. Diane Cipa October 23, 2007 at 08:50

    Just bear in mind that Fidelity always has as its end goal the elimination of the human element. They will offer you more and more free technology and in the end the technology will replace you.

    I’m not kidding. They and the other big title companies are pretty good at it.

  6. Amy Marshall October 23, 2007 at 15:14

    One more thing, re:the marketing angle: “Cyberhomes” makes me think that the homes are somehow robotic. It doesn’t make me think of the platform being “cyber” -and do we really think of our online world as “cyber”??? = Dumb name.

    NOt that Zillow is any better. It could mean anything. Not a fan. (Fashionable, but the moment of everything sounding silly (Twitter, etc.) is going to pass at some point.

    Curbplaces, though, is not only memorable but intuitive. Realtor.com – well, get rid of the all-caps (very old-school) and it’s ok.

  7. Daniel Rothamel October 23, 2007 at 15:29

    @ Amy–

    “(Fashionable, but the moment of everything sounding silly (Twitter, etc.) is going to pass at some point.”

    What if the moment passes, but the product remains?

    “Kleenex” “Band-Aid” and “Kodak” were nonsense words before they were brands.

    The shortcomings with many of the sites mentioned here is their functionality. Fix those problems, and the name doesn’t really matter a whole bunch.