The real estate industry is, and always has been, ripe for the pickings.

We thought that realtor.com would lead the way, but then N.A.R. had a third-party start running the realtor.com website.  Quickly we found out that their only goal was to make money off realtors, not present a smoking-hot website to promote our listings.  In the meantime, others like Zillow, Redfin and others have developed superior products that are doing a better job of satisfying consumers.

The field is wide-open too – any licensee who has MLS membership can get an IDX feed directly from the MLS to promote all listings.  We will probably see other attempts by outside parties to corral the business away from the realtor industry, who will likely let them walk right out the door with it.

Two new websites are in development:

Househappy will be promoting properties with more emphasis on searching through photos (like a mug book?).  From their press kit:

Portland, OR, October 04, 2012—Househappy, inc. has announced the upcoming launch of its real estate site, a free, user-generated platform designed for visual property search. With no ads, buyers and sellers can search or post property for sale in over 60 major cities and 50 states.

www.househappy.org lets users scroll through pages of high-quality thumbnail images while refining their search based on a broad range of criteria. Home buyers are no longer limited to searching based on zip code and price. Users simply select their location and search by financing options, seller concessions, property features, community attractions, and more.

“We believe househappy represents the future of real estate search,” said Kevin McCloskey, CEO and founder. “While other real estate sites restrict the user’s experience and are loaded with charts and graphs, our design makes it easy for users to find what they’re looking for.”  In addition to search, Househappy’s intuitive technology is also designed to simplify the posting process. Sellers and brokers can use the unique and relevant search terms to create comprehensive, detailed posts for any property type or sale type.

“Our mission is to simplify property search and make information accessible to everyone––from buyers and sellers to brokers,” McCloskey said. Househappy will be driven by organic growth and continue to expand throughout the US.



The other is H. Prospect, which is a match-making idea where buyers and sellers enter their haves/wants and the system tries to match them up – without list prices.  From their website:

One of the biggest decisions for you and your family is where you live. It affects where you go to school, who your frends are, how long you spend commuting, and your ability to go on vacation.   Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most difficult and the more confusing. And every house is diferent. Tax records, sale history, that’s good and all.  But, how about real-time, house-specific feedback from actual buyers? There is no list price on H.Prospect. Simply tell us how much you can afford to buy or what you need to sell.  We’ll keep your preferences confidental and you’ll receive the best matches for the best $$.

They will find a substantial hurdle trying to sell houses without getting the sellers to commit to a single list price – they get the moving-price syndrome instead, and become difficult to tie down to a market-value agreement (see the ‘Make Me Move’ idea at zillow).  But if the no-price idea doesn’t catch on, it would be easy enough to fix.

H. Prospect is also hoping that realtors will help bankroll their efforts, but they will find out that we are leery of more whiz-bang websites that promise to direct clients our way for a nominal fee.



Sooner or later (probably sooner) one or more of these alternative websites are going to grab all the eyeballs, and forever change the way real estate is bought and sold.

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