It is with much excitement that I would like to announce some major news for the Broker Public Portal project! We have been researching the value of consumer property search sites like the Broker Public Portal since 2005 and we’re thrilled to announce a game-changing opportunity for agents and brokers to captivate consumers!
Broker Public Portal has executed a binding letter of intent with Homesnap, a creator of highly rated apps for consumers and agents, to launch a national home search experience defined by simplicity, integrity and common sense. The program will be marketed under the Homesnap brand. Homesnap is already the top-rated real estate app for consumers, and Homesnap Pro is already the leading mobile app for real estate pros.
So what is the Broker Public Portal?
It is an initiative that was formed by an unprecedented partnership between 115 MLSs and real estate companies, including franchisors, independent brands, big brokers, and small brokers, operating in diverse markets across the country and collectively representing over 500,000 real estate agents.
The goal of this project is to provide consumers with a simple, easy to use, mobile-first solution to get real-time data directly from REALTORS themselves. In essence, the Broker Public Portal operates very much like a local MLS Consumer-facing website, but is a nationwide collaboration. We have learned from our years of research about MLS Consumer Websites that consumers really like these sites because they are unbiased, simple and allow them to connect directly to the brokerage and listing agent that is MOST familiar with the property. The consumers that use these sites are not looky-loos. They are the more serious buyer that is further down the sales funnel and serious about buying or selling a home.
Prior to this announcement, only BPP MLS Board members could sign up for the BPP. Still, four significant MLSs have each announced their intent to participate in the BPP at launch:
- Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), an MLS representing nearly 40,000 real estate agents and brokers in greater Chicago
- Connecticut Multiple Listing Service (CTMLS), representing more than 10,700 real estate agents and brokers across Connecticut.
- Northstar MLS, representing more than 16,300 real estate agents and brokers in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.
- Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors®, (BNAR), representing more than 3,000 real estate agents and brokers in Western New York.
We hear that more MLSs are expected to follow immediately.
Why Homesnap as a Partner?
We had the pleasure of working with Homesnap in their early days when they launched their program with MRIS, one of the largest MLSs in the country. We watched adoption and usage explode quickly, well beyond any type of engagement we had witnessed with earlier mobile search solutions. What was the secret to this adoption? Homesnap architected their entire solution to clearly put REALTORS at the center of the process. Unlike other third party apps that are designed to generate ad revenues, Homesnap has always been aligned with the industry providing a consumer portal that directly connects agents to their clients.
I spoke with Steve Barnes, Co-Founder and President of Homesnap this morning and he has these words to share. “Agents want a portal they can trust to provide to their clients allowing them to stay close to their customers throughout the property search process. Homesnap is built that way. It follows the Fair Display Guidelines, a set of rules that ensures that the listing agent and the brokerage are THE information sources for their own inventory. Homesnap and the Broker Public Portal project will NEVER display anybody except the listing agent on a property. The site will NEVER sell advertising. The whole goal here is to provide consumers a simple, easy to use, highly accurate and highly engaging way to learn about real estate in their local market in partnership with the agent and brokerage of their choice.”
Why did 115 MLSs and Brokerage Support this?
MLSs around the country are passionately in support of the Broker Public Portal. I met with John Mosey, CEO of Northstar MLS who also serves on the Executive Committee of the initiative. Here’s why his Board of Directors have stood up so quickly to support this initiative. “We solidly believe that among our primary goals as an MLS is to help facilitate business growth for our brokers without interfering in any way with their own marketing programs and methods for differentiating themselves. We also believe that consumers deserve to benefit directly from the brokers and agents across the country that provide up to date, accurate and comprehensive property information to share with their clients through their MLSs. The Broker Public Portal provides consumers with unfettered access to listing information directly from those that know the most about the property – the listing agent and brokerage. We believe the BPP is going to provide a valuable option for consumers who want to engage directly with their own agent and the listing agent who are most well informed on the local market and individual listings. We cannot be more proud to be one of the markets leading this game-changing program.”
The price for MLSs to participate in the BPP is $1 per MLS subscriber per month – about the same that most MLSs pay today for just a mobile search solution. For this, an MLS can now provide
- Best-in-class consumer apps across platforms
- Industry-leading mobile tools for every agent (Homesnap Pro)
- A robust broker-only dashboard to track agent, office and market activity
The National Association of REALTORS® clarified that consumer search sites like the BPP are a core service of the MLS so if some MLSs would like to offer the BPP as part of their regular subscription fees they are free to. Now MLSs can offer valuable local search solutions combined with a valuable national real estate source resource if they so choose.
Why do Brokers like BPP?
It is very exciting to see how Brokers and Franchises have lined up in support of the Broker Public Portal.
Geoff Lewis, President of RE/MAX LLC shared with us why he and his organization are so excited about this initiative. He told us “The BPP is a program that is way overdue in our view. For years we, as an industry, have let outsiders take on the role of talking to consumers in the way we should have been doing all along. The BPP leverages the collective expertise of every brand, every brokerage and every agent to provide the consumer with what they need to make sound purchase decisions about real estate. That is directly aligned with the RE/MAX philosophy.”
Paul Wells, a veteran broker owner from RE/MAX who also serves on the Board of Directors for MRED and the Board of Managers of the Broker Public Portal believes that this program is going to make a big splash in our industry. He says “By partnering with Homesnap, we can leverage a well-established, industry-centric technology provider that is going to help agents across the country secure qualified leads from serious buyers and sellers without having to spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on third party sites. Homesnap’s expertise and results speak for themselves. Homesnap Pro is used by agents in MLS markets with over 300,000 agents, compared to 100,000 Zillow and Trulia Premier Agents. (http://www.housingwire.com/articles/35364-zillow-launches-new-premier-agent-app-for-mobile-devices). In mature markets (where Homesnap Pro, the agent-facing portion of the app, has been available for a year or more) regular Homesnap Pro users represent over 75% of all home sales in the market. Of the 53 BPP founding MLSs in the BPP, 11 are existing Homesnap Pro customers, representing over 180,000 agents or nearly 1/5 of the industry. This is already a powerful launch from the start!”
The Unintended Positive Consequences of the BPP
Our industry has been riddled with conflict between MLSs and Brokers over the years. I have to say that WAV Group is proud to have been the facilitator of the process that led to this historic moment today. It is awe-inspiring to watch some of the best and brightest brokers and MLS leaders get together on this project and put individual differences aside to make it happen. There are strong trust relationships building that I believe are going to help our industry well beyond even this exciting endeavor!
We can’t wait to tell you more about this exciting project as more news becomes available!