Saturday, January 27, 2007

Live From Western Connect

Well, we're on our last few hours at the Banff Western Connect. The conference wraps up this morning and I'll have to say that the show was a huge success. I heard there were over 600 attendees this year, not including exhibitors and speakers. The Point2 booth was a modest 8 X 10 size but we ended up in a very high traffic spot so activity great. I've got the 7 of us below after setup - Myself, Brendan, Coni, Linda, Wendell, Jen and Jaquelyn.

The last 2 mornings we served champage and orange juice at the booth in the morning. Despite the number of people still fuzzy from the previous night festivities, the mimosa servings only lasted a few short minutes.

I cherish every chance we get to leave the office and speak to the industry and our members as I'm constantly reminded that we need to focus on education, simplicity and clarity in our messaging. We have so many members approach us and apologize that they are not using Point2 to their full potential. Some of the challenge is time, some is ability and some is just the lack of knowing 'what to do next.'

We fielded lots of questions about Handshake and the NLS, and most of the reaction was positive. But, we clearly need to speak to the industry about our intentions more and ensure everyone knows we want to be a partner, in fact the most important partner to the industry, not an antagonist. If our NLS is successful as a marketing tool, we'll help organized real estate communicate a more clear and compelling value proposition to today's consumers. Over and out from Banff.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Point2 NLS - A Different Kind of MLS

On January 2, Harley Rouda, CEO of Real Living commented on Inman News that “companies such as HomeGain and HouseValues, Zillow and Point2Homes are playing a role in aggregating property data, … and it's not clear where this trend is leading the industry.” That statement is very true, but it should be noted that the 4 companies listed are playing very different roles. I’m not surprised however that Point2 shows up in the same sentence as HG,HV and Zillow.

Homegain and HouseValues provide consumer portal that primarily grab contact information which is sold in the form of a lead to real estate agents and brokers. Zillow provides a consumer search portal designed to open up information to consumers and earn money with an advertising model. Where those companies are consumer focused, Point2 focuses on building applications for real estate professionals. While we operate a consumer search site at, solutions to focus on creating opportunities for the real estate professional and connecting consumer facing products to our real estate software that our brokers, agents and builders use.

In November, we displayed a booth at the NAR Expo and participated with the over 600 other vendors. After the show, we had a series of strategy meetings on messaging and development philosophy. We noticed at the show how easy it is to have your message lost in a sea of noise. Not only do we get mentioned with the 3 companies above, we are also mentioned with the likes of Advanced Access, Z57 and How can we tell the industry all the things what we do, how we are different and deliver one strong message that stands out above all others?

The answer we came up with was to execute on a 4 year plan and reveal what we are truly doing: creating 1 marketing system that allows real estate professionals to cooperatively market their listings online with complete control. Let’s be the answer to the DOJ threat. Let’s help real estate professionals take back their future. Let’s tie our product together and announce the 1 National MLS – the Point2 NLS.

Current members will notice that they have a more robust profile that might mimic what you could access in an MLS, but with more information. That profile will be what shows in Agent Handshake when you are managing relationships, on the message board and in the Point2 Homes directory. Members will notice that the referral system is now tied to that profile. Handshake has been improved so that the community can more effectively manage their Handshake relationships with rules and have more faith in the system. Members will automatically fall out of participation if they are blocked by other members for content reasons. Fair play will be necessity, not just a wish. The community will truly be in control.

The system is now more open with more choice for any real estate professionals. There is no longer a need to create a Point2 website for a member and use our software. Listings can be entered, involved in Handshake, syndicated and then posted on any website the real estate agent or broker is using.

Current MLS data was never meant for marketing but became the de facto standard. MLS’s have become most valuable as marketing tools however. Point2 NLS is a different kind of MLS. Data entered into the Point2 NLS will generate better results, have more photos, automatic virtual tours, deep analytics and complete control. In fact, members will even be able to opt out of displaying their listing on Point2 Homes (something we don’t expect to see many people doing).

Today is step one. All current Point2 members are now members of the Point2 NLS. Over the next few months, we will be releasing more features geared to enhance online marketing and facilitate the local cooperation of real estate professionals.

The real estate industry is one of a kind. In no other industry do competitors cooperate to the degree they do in real estate. But there are a lot of different business models coexisting with many different self-interests and industry views. The competition in light of the cooperation creates complicated dynamics that can only be addressed by providing choice, control and community imposed direct democracy (count the c’s in that sentence!). It’s why we love our simple slogan, ‘compete together’.

Let’s make 2007 a good year for real estate.