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Homesdatabase Goes BIG

This has been one of the greatest complaints about Realtor.com, in addition to their limiting the number of photos to the “basic” members (Beta.homesdatabase.com offers 30 photos ) How do you see this benefiting Realtors? … When I sat on a panel about MLS’ at the Virginia Association of Realtors’ conference a few months ago, someone asked whether the blurring of the lines between MLS’ and the inevitable mergers meant that smaller associations were living on borrowed time.

This has been one of the greatest complaints about Realtor.com, in addition to their limiting the number of photos to the "basic" members (Beta.homesdatabase.com offers 30 photos ) How do you see this benefiting Realtors? ... When I sat on a panel about MLS' at the Virginia Association of Realtors' conference a few months ago, someone asked whether the blurring of the lines between MLS' and the inevitable mergers meant that smaller associations were living on borrowed time.

Homesdatabase.com beta

MRIS launches beta service

Homesdatabase.com has been around for over nine years, but their beta aims to be much, much more.

Could they become the one place to search for homes? Perhaps.

MRIS is launching a beta version of a service called HomesDatabase that shows MLS listings which currently shows homes covered in their region but anticipates partnering with other MLS systems nationally to create a complete database.

But for now, it’s going bigger, and that’s beneficial to all brokers and consumers who are searching for the “one place” to market and search for homes. MRIS “gets it” when it comes to the MLS space, and it shows with their new release.

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MRIS innovates and guess who follows?

It’s a shot across the bow of Realtor.com – MRIS innovates where Realtor.com follows. Natural language search and “Amazon-like suggestion technology that presents users with properties other users with similar preferences have viewed?” Nice.

David Charron, the CEO of MRIS, has been referred to as a visionary and leader in the MLS space. I’m grateful to him for taking the time to respond to a few questions this evening.

Where is HomesDatabase (HDB) right now?

“Check Hitwise or Media Metrix however and you will see that HDB traffic is significant when compared with the regional and national sites. The big guys certainly have a place but they also have a price. They need ads to make their models work. And every one of them has an exit strategy. This is not a bad thing. Consumers believe that data should flow like water. But somebody has to pay for it. And the way most sites pay for it is to surround the content with ads that have even greater potential to pull the visitor in another direction. “

Will MRIS sell ads?

“We will not sell ads. Don’t need to. And our ‘payday” is when our customers get more calls/inquiries.”

This has been one of the greatest complaints about Realtor.com, in addition to their limiting the number of photos to the “basic” members (Beta.homesdatabase.com offers 30 photos).
How do you see this benefiting Realtors?

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“The benefit will hopefully be monetized by the folks that create the listing in the first place; agents and brokers. We will drive traffic directly to them. If the visitor wants to follow up with the agent for more information, they will. Our attempt here is to help the agent get invited into the conversation; they will have to earn their way into the transaction.”

Who is the primary audience?

“The primary audience is consumers. As a result, I hope that other markets will consider using (leveraging) the local MLS to make this happen. Do I hope they call us for assistance? Sure, but my business does not live or die on expansion to other markets.”

There are no plans to open the platform to Unrepresented Sellers (otherwise known as FSBOs) – they don’t pay MLS fees, so this space remains open.

What does this mean for search portals?

When I sat on a panel about MLS’ at the Virginia Association of Realtors’ conference a few months ago, someone asked whether the blurring of the lines between MLS’ and the inevitable mergers meant that smaller associations were living on borrowed time. My response then is the same as it is now – no one is entitled to either success or survival. Not the MLS’ Trulia, Zillow, Cyberhomes, etc, etc, etc. Survival and Success have to be earned.

What does this mean for the CyberTruliaZillows? They’ve now got some formidable competition. As a practicing Realtor and consumer, that’s good news.

Check out Homesdatabase now.

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Written By

Dad, Husband, Charlottesville Realtor, real estate Blogger, occasional speaker - Inman Connects, NAR Conferences - based in Charlottesville, Virginia. A native Virginian, I graduated from VMI in 1998, am a third generation Realtor (since 2001) and have been "publishing" as a real estate blogger since January 2005. I've chosen to get involved in Realtor Associations on the local, state & national levels, having served on the NAR's RPR & MLS groups. Find me in Charlottesville, Crozet and Twitter.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Brad Nix

    November 11, 2008 at 5:12 am

    @Jim This is a great way for local MLS’ to earn a place in the new real estate search market. They already have the monetization in place and Realtors would love to stop spending ad dollars elsewhere. It’s too bad we have 52 different MLS’ in our state of GA. I think these public facing MLS’ are best when they cover a huge area, like MRIS. GA needs to implement a statewide MLS and then go public.

  2. Jim Duncan

    November 11, 2008 at 5:54 am

    Thanks, Brad. I think that the ultimate solution is going to come from a hybrid of inside and outside the industry. MRIS seems to straddle that line very well.

    I know that we have at least one MRIS member here on AG, so I’m hoping he’ll stop by.

  3. Heather Elias

    November 11, 2008 at 6:42 am

    I love the beta…Clickable to the agent’s website, company website, everything clearly displayed. Pictures are finally large enough to see. But I was blown away by the ability to keyword search. I have a feeling our consumers are going to love this. I’ve asked a couple non-Realtor folks to test and let me know their thoughts, I’ll probably post on that in the next couple of days.

    I really didn’t have any complaints at all with the functionality. And it probably goes without saying that it blows the current version out of the water!

  4. Reggie from Cyberhomes

    November 11, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Hi Jim-
    As you mentioned HomesDatabase.com has been around for years, but MRIS has new goals for the site and I think it looks like a great step forward. Cyberhomes has partnered with MRIS to provide access to our content on HomesDatabase.com, as well as school and neighborhood information to the MLS. See here:

    https://rismedia.com/wp/2008-11-10/fnres-broker-agent-products-provide-neighborhood-and-school-reports-to-nations-largest-mls

    In return, Cyberhomes is also partnered with the MLS to display listing content on Cyberhomes.com, alongside the tens of thousands of listings directly aggregated from MRIS’s member brokers.

  5. Claude Labbe

    November 11, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I was pleased with the leap forward by an order of magnitude of so for HDB.

    It seems that consumers would still like to be able to do map-based searches, which I’m not sure the new HDB allows. MRIS allows Realtors such a search, which I find easy & preferable in some, not all, cases.

    But still, a very nice product enhancement.

  6. David Charron

    November 11, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Jim
    Thanks for acknowledgement. HDB remains a work in progress but we are pleased with the initial traffic and more importantly the feedback.
    Claude, once you have your basic search criteria established, you can use the slide bar to zoom in/out of an area.
    Brad, Heather and Reggie, thanks for the kind words. With over 50,000 Type A customers, I only need a few more!
    Thanks all
    David

  7. Danilo Bogdanovic

    November 11, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Interesting to see where MRIS/HDB is going with this long term and whether this will create increased debate and tension amongst some key players/organizations out there. Sure NAR, Move and those on the “MLS 5.0” project are watching very closely…

  8. Missy Caulk

    November 11, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Interesting to see and play with, sounds like they are making the search more consumer friendly and will take us all up a notch in our IDX feeds.

  9. Craig Barrett

    November 12, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    As a subscriber of MRIS this makes me feel good my money is being spent well. Clearly, this is a stride in the right direction for consumers and subscribers alike.

  10. Matthew Rathbun

    November 13, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    MRIS is great. I’ve heard David share twice to our leadership teams in the past month. He took a failing company and turned it completely around. This year, MRIS gave members free access for a month, reimbursed brokers and still continued to be innovative. At our local association they have a representative in a computer lab every Thursday for any agents to walk in and ask questions about anything in the system, anytime they wish. The entire company is very proactive and their compliance department is very attentive.

    I’ve said time and again that NAR should look at David and MRIS as their inspiration for what the Association should be doing for their MLS members.

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