HomeGain Throws Down the Gauntlet

Louis Cammarosano is a really smart dude. I know you might think you know that. But, really. He’s a smart smart guy. In this interview he briefly mentions his history prior to HomeGain:

Upon graduation from the Fordham University School of Law, I worked at Cravath Swaine and Moore in New York and London. I spent most of the 1990’s as a corporate Mergers and Acquisition and securities attorney working in London, Paris and Warsaw.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore is one of a half dozen law firms in the world that routinely goes by a single name: “Cravath”. Everyone in the legal industry knows who you’re talking about. (The others, incidentally, are Wachtel, Skadden, Sully, Cleary, and Latham. Granted, there are firms that use two names and are as well-known, such as Paul, Weiss or Davis, Polk… but I digress!) In every survey I have ever read, as well as personal conversations, Cravath is generally considered the best law firm in the country (and therefore the world). Certain firms are stronger in some practice areas (e.g., Weil, Gotshal is generally conceded as having the top bankruptcy department), and Wachtel would give Cravath a run for its money in overall prestige, but all-around, Cravath is simply the best law firm in the world. It equates to McKinsey & Co in management consulting and to Goldman Sachs in investment banking.

Cravath lawyers are known for their incredible brilliance combined with an incredible fortitude. A friend of mine worked at Cravath for a couple of years, until after a particularly brutal two week period of work, he came home to find a strange woman in his bed. Naturally, he asked her who she was. Whereupon she replied, “I’m your *#@$()&% wife, and you’re quitting that (#@&)(%@ firm.” You simply do not spend ten years working at Cravath unless you’re very very smart, very very hardworking, and very very dedicated.

Louis is such a man.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the latest offering from HomeGain — AgentView — reflects those smarts. Others have written about what’s good about it already, and as I tend to agree generally, I want to focus on something else. (Oh fine, I’ll quibble and nitpick later on.)

As I see it, with AgentView, HomeGain throws down the gauntlet to the major brands in real estate brokerage.

This may not have been their intent, but it is the impact.

Consider what services a brand provides to a real estate agent:

  • a logo (or “flag”)
  • national advertising
  • national website
  • marketing tools & materials
  • training
  • leads

Except for the “flag”, AgentView and HomeGain now provides everything else. If HomeGain starts to pick up brokerage licenses, it can provide a “flag” as well. I see no reason why a HomeGain yard sign would be any less effective than any other yard sign.

In terms of national advertising, Brian Brady rightly points out that HomeGain is a Google Rank 7/10 site that is going to be funneling traffic to these AgentView pages. Should I point out that Coldwell Banker is only 6/10? That Remax is only 6/10?

In fact, AgentView is also something larger brokers ought to be concerned about. It seems we’re in the age of brokers treating their agents like independent businesses. If that’s how your business works, then great. But then you’re going to have to do some serious thinking about the price those independent businesses are willing to pay for your services.

Let me be your ambassador of KWAN

Let me be your ambassador of KWAN

HomeGain is charging $29/month per zip code. Brian thinks the average cost for an agent will be $40-$50 a month. Let’s go with Brian and call it $600 per year for the agent.

What does the brokerage charge the agent? 30% of the commission on each transaction as a split? 40%? Some charge desk costs plus expenses. Some charge agents referral fees for each lead sent to them.

For that matter, what does a brand charge the agent? The broker isn’t going to eat the whole cost of the royalty fee — not for long anyhow. 6% of the GCI?

Yes, I know — you need a broker’s license and take on liability and all those fun things to become independent. Honestly, I have to ask… is that hard to do? If an agent’s only need is to have a broker’s license and buy liability insurance, since she will have no employees, and work out of her home, and use HomeGain for all her marketing needs… well, you do the math.

This is a great move by Louis and the HomeGain people. It is also a challenge to the entrenched powers in real estate.

Resist the temptation to dismiss HomeGain’s transformation. After all, Trulia and Zillow have agent profile pages with listings. Trulia has Trulia Voices and the new blogging platform. What’s the big deal?

The difference between the three companies lies in how they see themselves, and how they view their relationship with agents.

Trulia and Zillow see themselves fundamentally as real estate media plays. They have home search and content and AVM’s and such, but their business model is all about advertising. Their customers are advertisers — consumers are but eyeballs, and agents are but free content producers. Again, I know the good people at Trulia/Zillow (and they’re all good people, at least the ones I’ve met) don’t think of things that way — but I do, because I tend to focus on essentials.

In contrast, HomeGain sees their customers as the real estate agent. In that comment I linked to, Louis wrote:

Key metric here is not top of funnel visits but delivered visits to agents. If our click through rate goes up 50% we can make the same money on 1/2 the traffic. If that happens we can cut out non profitable sources of traffic and make the same money at a higher margin.

This, ladies and gents, is not how a media company thinks. It is how a brokerage thinks. It is how national franchises think.

Let me see what I can find...

Let me see what I can find...

Nitpicking

Okay, so I promised a bit of quibbling and nitpicking. Keep in mind that I think AgentView is really solid; it’s a great extension of the HomeGain platform. I expect it will be successful.

Nit #1 to Pick: Buy a zip code? How… charmingly antique! Louis — call me at my dayjob if you guys need neighborhood boundaries. I know realtors tend to know zip codes really well, but I would think that a company with the technical competence of HomeGain would let agents buy neighborhoods (like “Soho” and “Greenwich Village”) that cut across Zip Codes (or are a small part of one zip code), as well as MSA’s, parts of towns, etc. Relatedly… where’s the map?

Nit #2 to Pick: The agent profile box at the top of the AgentView page (click here) strikes me as rather ‘undesigned’. Considering the importance of that information to the whole value proposition, I think it might merit a slight redesign to emphasize the information. Maybe leverage Flex or other technologies to sex it up a bit. Or just throw a designer at it. :)

Nit #3 to Pick: I love that the Agent Profile mentions how many HomeGain clients the Agent had. It would be awesome (for consumers, and for good agents) to add an Ebay-style feedback section here. Nothing works better than testimonials from actual clients — and if you were horrible, you deserve the black marks.

So… About that Gauntlet

For what it’s worth, I’m glad to see HomeGain throw down the gauntlet. This is a challenge that the big brokers and major brands can’t afford to ignore for long. I hope, I believe, that it will spur another round of innovation from companies that aren’t thought to be particularly innovative. Will they pick up the gauntlet and finally start flexing?

It’s a fun time to be in real estate technology.

-rsh

  • http://www.zillowblog.com/ David G

    Rob,

    I guarantee you that the media sites operate quite differently to the way you think they do. The reality is that media revenues have very little to do with eyeballs and have everything to do with the performance of the ads. Media sites are very much invested in creating value for their advertising customers. And many of Zillow’s advertisers are real estate professionals.

    You are however correct in saying that that HomeGain is not a media site. I disagree with you that that’s a good thing. Without attractive content, the company has an exorbitant traffic acquisition cost and that’s why HomeGain is forced to charge agents for features the media sites offer free.

    I must be missing something in this product. Why on earth would an ambitious Realtor want their blog to look like this (and please tell me why they would pay for it?): http://www.homegain.com/realestate-blog/CA-Castiac/scottreiber-5084421?zip_code=91384

  • http://www.zillowblog.com David G

    Rob,

    I guarantee you that the media sites operate quite differently to the way you think they do. The reality is that media revenues have very little to do with eyeballs and have everything to do with the performance of the ads. Media sites are very much invested in creating value for their advertising customers. And many of Zillow’s advertisers are real estate professionals.

    You are however correct in saying that that HomeGain is not a media site. I disagree with you that that’s a good thing. Without attractive content, the company has an exorbitant traffic acquisition cost and that’s why HomeGain is forced to charge agents for features the media sites offer free.

    I must be missing something in this product. Why on earth would an ambitious Realtor want their blog to look like this (and please tell me why they would pay for it?): http://www.homegain.com/realestate-blog/CA-Castiac/scottreiber-5084421?zip_code=91384

  • http://blog.homegain.com/ Louis Cammarosano

    David
    Does Weight Watchers have their brokers license yet?

  • http://blog.homegain.com Louis Cammarosano

    David
    Does Weight Watchers have their brokers license yet?

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com/ -Rob

    Hey David — thanks for the comment, and the opportunity to converse. :)

    So, a couple things.

    1. As for media sites operating quite differently to the way I think they do… how so? If you’re referring to CPC of CPA vs. CPM advertising… do you really consider that to be something other than an ad-supported media play?

    I think you misinterpret my statement: I never said media companies don’t care about creating value for their advertising customers. Of course they do. People don’t advertise on sites (or magazines or TV shows or whatever) that doesn’t provide value for the money paid. I know; I’m an advertiser. I’ve also worked in media; providing value to the advertising customer is the ultimate goal.

    My point, however, is that a media company is ultimately serving the customer, i.e., the advertiser. And as far as the advertiser, your customer, is concerned, he doesn’t care how you deliver the metrics (eyeballs, clicks, whatever) or how you go about getting the audience, as long as you do.

    That many of your advertisers are real estate professionals doesn’t change the fundamental business model: you would strive to provide value for Coca Cola if they advertised on Zillow, wouldn’t you?

    I would not read that as a criticism of Zillow or Trulia; I respect both of you guys tremendously. You’ve brought great innovation and freshness to the industry. But to say you’re not a “media play” is going a bridge too far. (Not that, to be fair, you deny being a media company.) To read what I wrote as a criticism is bad inference likely based on my bad implication. :)

    2. About HomeGain having exorbitant traffic acquisition costs… I’ll have to defer to someone who knows those numbers. Because I don’t.

    But if your position is that HomeGain has to charge agents for features media sites offer for free because they need to defray those costs… I have to ask you a question: Is Zillow profitable?

    Because as of Nov of 2007, VentureBeat was down on you guys, bigtime. Some blogger in Sep of ’07 basically questioned Zillow’s viability, even after you raised an additional $30m in funding.

    At the same time, it appears at least from this source that HomeGain was profitable as of 2002 when it was acquired, after having raised some $50m in funding in 1999.

    So if you’re not profitable, isn’t criticizing someone who is profitable on their exorbitant acquisition costs a bit misplaced? However high HomeGain’s acquisition costs, they’re apparently making a profit, which justifies whatever they’re spending. In contrast, if you’re not profitable, then whatever you’re not spending on traffic acquisition in order to provide free tools to agents is hardly a cause for congratulations. Because you’re losing money.

    3. Hey, what can I say, except that I agree with you on Scott Reiber’s blog. That’s atrocious. Why he’d pay for it? Beats me. Guess he likes throwing money away.

    One thing, however, to note is that I get the feeling Scott Reiber’s blog would look that crappy whether he was hosted on WordPress, AgentGenius, LiveJournal, Trulia Blogs, or Zillow Blog. The dude just isn’t going to write blog posts. He doesn’t care, apparently.

    Hard to blame HomeGain for that, wouldn’t you say?

    I have picked on HomeGain before, especially as their traffic seems to be headed south, while Trulia and Zillow are at least going sideways. They can absolutely improve things, and I get the feeling Louis is probably the first one who acknowledges the need for improvement.

    But on this move, it’s a smart play. We’ll have to wait and see if they can execute on the product launch and make it more than a curiosity.

    -rsh

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com -Rob

    Hey David — thanks for the comment, and the opportunity to converse. :)

    So, a couple things.

    1. As for media sites operating quite differently to the way I think they do… how so? If you’re referring to CPC of CPA vs. CPM advertising… do you really consider that to be something other than an ad-supported media play?

    I think you misinterpret my statement: I never said media companies don’t care about creating value for their advertising customers. Of course they do. People don’t advertise on sites (or magazines or TV shows or whatever) that doesn’t provide value for the money paid. I know; I’m an advertiser. I’ve also worked in media; providing value to the advertising customer is the ultimate goal.

    My point, however, is that a media company is ultimately serving the customer, i.e., the advertiser. And as far as the advertiser, your customer, is concerned, he doesn’t care how you deliver the metrics (eyeballs, clicks, whatever) or how you go about getting the audience, as long as you do.

    That many of your advertisers are real estate professionals doesn’t change the fundamental business model: you would strive to provide value for Coca Cola if they advertised on Zillow, wouldn’t you?

    I would not read that as a criticism of Zillow or Trulia; I respect both of you guys tremendously. You’ve brought great innovation and freshness to the industry. But to say you’re not a “media play” is going a bridge too far. (Not that, to be fair, you deny being a media company.) To read what I wrote as a criticism is bad inference likely based on my bad implication. :)

    2. About HomeGain having exorbitant traffic acquisition costs… I’ll have to defer to someone who knows those numbers. Because I don’t.

    But if your position is that HomeGain has to charge agents for features media sites offer for free because they need to defray those costs… I have to ask you a question: Is Zillow profitable?

    Because as of Nov of 2007, VentureBeat was down on you guys, bigtime. Some blogger in Sep of ’07 basically questioned Zillow’s viability, even after you raised an additional $30m in funding.

    At the same time, it appears at least from this source that HomeGain was profitable as of 2002 when it was acquired, after having raised some $50m in funding in 1999.

    So if you’re not profitable, isn’t criticizing someone who is profitable on their exorbitant acquisition costs a bit misplaced? However high HomeGain’s acquisition costs, they’re apparently making a profit, which justifies whatever they’re spending. In contrast, if you’re not profitable, then whatever you’re not spending on traffic acquisition in order to provide free tools to agents is hardly a cause for congratulations. Because you’re losing money.

    3. Hey, what can I say, except that I agree with you on Scott Reiber’s blog. That’s atrocious. Why he’d pay for it? Beats me. Guess he likes throwing money away.

    One thing, however, to note is that I get the feeling Scott Reiber’s blog would look that crappy whether he was hosted on WordPress, AgentGenius, LiveJournal, Trulia Blogs, or Zillow Blog. The dude just isn’t going to write blog posts. He doesn’t care, apparently.

    Hard to blame HomeGain for that, wouldn’t you say?

    I have picked on HomeGain before, especially as their traffic seems to be headed south, while Trulia and Zillow are at least going sideways. They can absolutely improve things, and I get the feeling Louis is probably the first one who acknowledges the need for improvement.

    But on this move, it’s a smart play. We’ll have to wait and see if they can execute on the product launch and make it more than a curiosity.

    -rsh

  • http://www.realestateindustrywatch.com/ Eric Blackwell

    Hey Rob;

    First off, GREAT write up. (that is not some gratuitous throw in comment..the real one is below-grin). Your point is well made and well thought out. I was impressed as well with Louis when he did the interview for REIW.

    Now for the meat of it.

    I work for a large RE/MAX brokerage. IMO you can already SEE the big franchises REACTING to this challenge. I think REMAX is ahead of the pack (at the moment) since they are spending about $60MM annually to drive leads to agents. (No referral fee).

    That having been said, I think this forces the others (and REMAX as well) to stand and deliver. I think that is a good thing. Some will. Some won’t. Those that don’t are going to lose agents.

    Two points that I would want to make though.

    You measured the efforts of franchisors by the PR of their website. I would think that a BETTER measure of them would be the number of buyer “leads” (registrations or whatever) sent to their agents. If you read my interview with Marnie Blanco, VP of E-commerce in REIW, you will see why…some franchises attempt to source traffic through SEO, some go for Radio TV and Print dominance.

    The key IMO is VALUE…for what they are charging, are they delivering. IMO many of the franchises are pitiful in this regard, and you are right…this does poke them in the nose a bit.

    Point #2;

    I don’t view it as an either or. Our brokerages decision was to stay with RE/MAX and their branding and lead generation was a big part of that decision. That does NOT preclude our agents from using HomeGain or from me telling them that is a good idea. I think there is a case to be made for evaluating your options individually and deciding which generates the best ROI and make it #1. Then looking at the second highest ROI and etc….one does not (as a rule) replace the other…they can be additive.

    In fact, you can think of it this way. If REMAX is dominant in TV Radio and Print and my brokerage is dominant in local SEO and some of the agents in our brokerage do PPC and some others do HomeGain and others are local niche bloggers…doesn’t that give us REALLY good dominance? Isn’t the effect synergistic as long as ROI is positive in each? and doesn’t that actually give us multiple streams of leads (read: income)?

    Again Rob, thanks for a truly well thought out article. I would love to interview you some time for REIW as well. Give me a shout!

    Eric Blackwell

  • http://www.realestateindustrywatch.com Eric Blackwell

    Hey Rob;

    First off, GREAT write up. (that is not some gratuitous throw in comment..the real one is below-grin). Your point is well made and well thought out. I was impressed as well with Louis when he did the interview for REIW.

    Now for the meat of it.

    I work for a large RE/MAX brokerage. IMO you can already SEE the big franchises REACTING to this challenge. I think REMAX is ahead of the pack (at the moment) since they are spending about $60MM annually to drive leads to agents. (No referral fee).

    That having been said, I think this forces the others (and REMAX as well) to stand and deliver. I think that is a good thing. Some will. Some won’t. Those that don’t are going to lose agents.

    Two points that I would want to make though.

    You measured the efforts of franchisors by the PR of their website. I would think that a BETTER measure of them would be the number of buyer “leads” (registrations or whatever) sent to their agents. If you read my interview with Marnie Blanco, VP of E-commerce in REIW, you will see why…some franchises attempt to source traffic through SEO, some go for Radio TV and Print dominance.

    The key IMO is VALUE…for what they are charging, are they delivering. IMO many of the franchises are pitiful in this regard, and you are right…this does poke them in the nose a bit.

    Point #2;

    I don’t view it as an either or. Our brokerages decision was to stay with RE/MAX and their branding and lead generation was a big part of that decision. That does NOT preclude our agents from using HomeGain or from me telling them that is a good idea. I think there is a case to be made for evaluating your options individually and deciding which generates the best ROI and make it #1. Then looking at the second highest ROI and etc….one does not (as a rule) replace the other…they can be additive.

    In fact, you can think of it this way. If REMAX is dominant in TV Radio and Print and my brokerage is dominant in local SEO and some of the agents in our brokerage do PPC and some others do HomeGain and others are local niche bloggers…doesn’t that give us REALLY good dominance? Isn’t the effect synergistic as long as ROI is positive in each? and doesn’t that actually give us multiple streams of leads (read: income)?

    Again Rob, thanks for a truly well thought out article. I would love to interview you some time for REIW as well. Give me a shout!

    Eric Blackwell

  • http://www.homegain.com/ Louis Cammarosano

    Eric
    Good points. We don’t think of ourselves as competitors to the brokerages. Indeed if we can provide their agents with good marketing tools, the brokerages win too as their agents will make more money for them.

    The difference between broker sites and homegain marketing solutions is on broker sites there is always an emphasis on the brand along with the realtor. If you scroll through some broker sites and start with an agent, you can “lose” that agent as you continue to browse the information on their sites.

    That’s ok for the brokerage because while the consumer might have lost sight of the agent, they are still on the broker’s site.

    On HomeGain, the agent is prominently and exclusively featured and unlike most other third party sites, in an advertising free environment.

    Many of HomeGain’s best customers are RE/Max agents…..

  • http://www.homegain.com Louis Cammarosano

    Eric
    Good points. We don’t think of ourselves as competitors to the brokerages. Indeed if we can provide their agents with good marketing tools, the brokerages win too as their agents will make more money for them.

    The difference between broker sites and homegain marketing solutions is on broker sites there is always an emphasis on the brand along with the realtor. If you scroll through some broker sites and start with an agent, you can “lose” that agent as you continue to browse the information on their sites.

    That’s ok for the brokerage because while the consumer might have lost sight of the agent, they are still on the broker’s site.

    On HomeGain, the agent is prominently and exclusively featured and unlike most other third party sites, in an advertising free environment.

    Many of HomeGain’s best customers are RE/Max agents…..

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com/ -Rob

    Hi Eric, thanks for the insightful comments. I’m constantly learning from knowledgeable people on my wee li’l blog.

    I think it’s obvious that the major franchisors have to step up their game to warrant the franchise fees. I’m not one of those who thinks the fees are too high — they are as high as the market will bear. Meaning that franchisees obviously see the value in the 6% royalties and the fees charged, because Realogy is at something north of 90% retention rate.

    All that these moves by HomeGain (and others) does is force them to higher standards of performance. I honestly believe that if you asked Richard Smith or Alex Periello, they would welcome the challenge. Those gents aren’t all that interested in being mediocre, or not providing value.

    It may seem surprising, perhaps, but there are a lot of people at least at Realogy that take their mission — to help real estate entrepreneurs be more successful — very seriously. Maybe now that they’re blogging, more of them would step up and share those views.

    As for your second point, that brokers don’t view marketing as an either-or. That’s obviously true. But I do want to delve into this a bit more: “Our brokerages decision was to stay with RE/MAX and their branding and lead generation was a big part of that decision.” From the way it’s written, it sounds like your decision to stay with RE/MAX brand was based in large part on lead generation from RE/MAX.

    So apart from lead gen, what does the RE/MAX brand do for you? I’m curious what one franchisee’s perspective on the value of the BRAND ITSELF is.

    -rsh

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com -Rob

    Hi Eric, thanks for the insightful comments. I’m constantly learning from knowledgeable people on my wee li’l blog.

    I think it’s obvious that the major franchisors have to step up their game to warrant the franchise fees. I’m not one of those who thinks the fees are too high — they are as high as the market will bear. Meaning that franchisees obviously see the value in the 6% royalties and the fees charged, because Realogy is at something north of 90% retention rate.

    All that these moves by HomeGain (and others) does is force them to higher standards of performance. I honestly believe that if you asked Richard Smith or Alex Periello, they would welcome the challenge. Those gents aren’t all that interested in being mediocre, or not providing value.

    It may seem surprising, perhaps, but there are a lot of people at least at Realogy that take their mission — to help real estate entrepreneurs be more successful — very seriously. Maybe now that they’re blogging, more of them would step up and share those views.

    As for your second point, that brokers don’t view marketing as an either-or. That’s obviously true. But I do want to delve into this a bit more: “Our brokerages decision was to stay with RE/MAX and their branding and lead generation was a big part of that decision.” From the way it’s written, it sounds like your decision to stay with RE/MAX brand was based in large part on lead generation from RE/MAX.

    So apart from lead gen, what does the RE/MAX brand do for you? I’m curious what one franchisee’s perspective on the value of the BRAND ITSELF is.

    -rsh

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com/ -Rob

    Louis –

    Question for you. In your opinion, whether officially as head of HomeGain or personally as just an industy observer, what service does a brokerage provide to an agent that HomeGain simply does not?

    When you say HomeGain is not a competitor to brokerages, I’m sure you mean it in the sense of intent — you don’t intend to compete with brokerages. Just like Trulia and Zillow do not intend to compete with brokerages.

    But impact and intent are different things — and as I see it, the only way HomeGain is not a competitor to brokerages is if you do not offer some important service that a brokerage does.

    So what is that service? (Or services?)

    -rsh

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com -Rob

    Louis –

    Question for you. In your opinion, whether officially as head of HomeGain or personally as just an industy observer, what service does a brokerage provide to an agent that HomeGain simply does not?

    When you say HomeGain is not a competitor to brokerages, I’m sure you mean it in the sense of intent — you don’t intend to compete with brokerages. Just like Trulia and Zillow do not intend to compete with brokerages.

    But impact and intent are different things — and as I see it, the only way HomeGain is not a competitor to brokerages is if you do not offer some important service that a brokerage does.

    So what is that service? (Or services?)

    -rsh

  • http://blog.homegain.com/ Louis Cammarosano

    @Rob

    I am not sure that supplementing an agent’s marketing, as HomeGain does with the marketing that a broker provides is competition.

    Indeed, brokers may wish to limit their marketing overhead and encourage agents to spend their own money to make money.

    Since most brokerages employ a independent contractor model with their agents (their agents are not employees of the brokerages), it should be expected that the brokerage won’t provide 100% of the marketing required to be successful.

  • http://blog.homegain.com Louis Cammarosano

    @Rob

    I am not sure that supplementing an agent’s marketing, as HomeGain does with the marketing that a broker provides is competition.

    Indeed, brokers may wish to limit their marketing overhead and encourage agents to spend their own money to make money.

    Since most brokerages employ a independent contractor model with their agents (their agents are not employees of the brokerages), it should be expected that the brokerage won’t provide 100% of the marketing required to be successful.

  • http://www.zillowblog.com/ David G

    “I agree with you on Scott Reiber’s blog. That’s atrocious. Why he’d pay for it? Beats me.”

    Pheew. I was starting to think I’d lost my marbles (or that you had gone pay-for-post on us.) But Rob, ALL of the agents’ sites I see on HomeGain look like that; I just picked Scott’s from the top of the list. Are you really advocating that agents go this route with their online marketing. Surely you don’t really think that this is what “the Gauntlet” looks like?

    I do think the franchise angle is interesting but it’s nothing new – franchises need to create value for their agents, period. I’d be surprised if most franchises can’t do better than this.

  • http://www.zillowblog.com David G

    “I agree with you on Scott Reiber’s blog. That’s atrocious. Why he’d pay for it? Beats me.”

    Pheew. I was starting to think I’d lost my marbles (or that you had gone pay-for-post on us.) But Rob, ALL of the agents’ sites I see on HomeGain look like that; I just picked Scott’s from the top of the list. Are you really advocating that agents go this route with their online marketing. Surely you don’t really think that this is what “the Gauntlet” looks like?

    I do think the franchise angle is interesting but it’s nothing new – franchises need to create value for their agents, period. I’d be surprised if most franchises can’t do better than this.

  • craigsarizona

    Hey Rob,
    Your post was timely, I’ve been considering lead generation services for my business plan recently. Your write-up was great and made me think this was it. Went out, read up, then went to look for Zip codes. Now the flags are shooting up.

    First, registration was problematic, all of my user ids were taken, but yet, I was still logged in????? Then the certificated expirations kept coming up, okay, not good, come on, technology company, working with data that could to some degree be classified as confidential (credit cards, fact that someone is thinking of moving). That needs to be monitored by someone and resolved before the client sees it.

    So needless to say, I won’t continue to go do the path of partnering with a company that has issues that I can only imagine will eventually reflect on the agent as problems. It’s time to have a higher standard. Let’s get it right.

    Dismounting from my technical soap box.

  • craigsarizona

    Hey Rob,
    Your post was timely, I’ve been considering lead generation services for my business plan recently. Your write-up was great and made me think this was it. Went out, read up, then went to look for Zip codes. Now the flags are shooting up.

    First, registration was problematic, all of my user ids were taken, but yet, I was still logged in????? Then the certificated expirations kept coming up, okay, not good, come on, technology company, working with data that could to some degree be classified as confidential (credit cards, fact that someone is thinking of moving). That needs to be monitored by someone and resolved before the client sees it.

    So needless to say, I won’t continue to go do the path of partnering with a company that has issues that I can only imagine will eventually reflect on the agent as problems. It’s time to have a higher standard. Let’s get it right.

    Dismounting from my technical soap box.

  • http://blog.homegain.com/ Louis Cammarosano

    Craig
    Please contact me at louis@homegain.com so I can look into your issues. Since your profile has not linked to your identity its difficult for me to take a look.
    Regards
    Louis

  • http://blog.homegain.com Louis Cammarosano

    Craig
    Please contact me at louis@homegain.com so I can look into your issues. Since your profile has not linked to your identity its difficult for me to take a look.
    Regards
    Louis

  • http://blog.homegain.com/ Louis Cammarosano

    I’ve had our engineers check the SSL certificates and they are all current and correct.
    We have also done some testing to see if your experience is reproducable. It was not.
    Criag if you are indeed a customer of ours please contact us.
    Louis@homegain.com
    510-594-4121

  • http://blog.homegain.com Louis Cammarosano

    I’ve had our engineers check the SSL certificates and they are all current and correct.
    We have also done some testing to see if your experience is reproducable. It was not.
    Criag if you are indeed a customer of ours please contact us.
    Louis@homegain.com
    510-594-4121

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com/ -Rob

    You see, Notorious ROB isn’t just for debate and discussion. It’s also for providing rapid customer service, from the General Manager himself, no less! :)

    Hope y’all work it out between yourselves. Heh.

    -rsh

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com -Rob

    You see, Notorious ROB isn’t just for debate and discussion. It’s also for providing rapid customer service, from the General Manager himself, no less! :)

    Hope y’all work it out between yourselves. Heh.

    -rsh

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  • http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com/ jf.sellsius

    Once again, proof of your notoriety R.O.B. I especially appreciate the branding issue you raise. The agent must always weigh the benefits of being associated with a brand (organization) other than their own — and why shouldn’t an agent associate themselves with other brands that provide value? Agents list their profiles under the TruZillia banners, and others, and take advantage of the value those brands provide (to the agent & the consumer). That’s great, so long as those brands do not screw with the consumer or homeowner, in which case, that brand stink rubs off on the agent. If HomeGain continues to do right by agents and consumers, folks will want to be known as ‘Gainers.

  • http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com jf.sellsius

    Once again, proof of your notoriety R.O.B. I especially appreciate the branding issue you raise. The agent must always weigh the benefits of being associated with a brand (organization) other than their own — and why shouldn’t an agent associate themselves with other brands that provide value? Agents list their profiles under the TruZillia banners, and others, and take advantage of the value those brands provide (to the agent & the consumer). That’s great, so long as those brands do not screw with the consumer or homeowner, in which case, that brand stink rubs off on the agent. If HomeGain continues to do right by agents and consumers, folks will want to be known as ‘Gainers.

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com/ -Rob

    @JF – thanks bud. :)

    Of course, now might be a good time to revisit that whole HomeDepot post… there are implications here as well.

    -rsh

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com -Rob

    @JF – thanks bud. :)

    Of course, now might be a good time to revisit that whole HomeDepot post… there are implications here as well.

    -rsh

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  • http://www.senasellsvegas.com/ Tony Sena

    With the changes in Real Estate Technology, I don’t believe these major brands can keep demanding these outrageous fees they charge. I left Century 21 Aadvantage Gold in Henderson, NV a few years ago, our office was the # 1 Century 21 office in the world for 3 straight years, but with that said, it didn’t bring me in business. I generated my business! My Internet presence brought in my business, not the Century 21 brand. I no longer saw the value in hanging my license at an office that required a split and a 6% franchise fee.

    If you ask me to choose between a custom wordpress blog and a blog on HomeGain that looks like the ones I have seen, than there really is no comparison. The only think that HomeGain has going for them would be that the blog is on their domain name which is a plus but then you have to ask yourself, why wouldn’t I use an Active Rain, Realtown, REW or Wanna Network Real Estate Blog?

  • http://www.senasellsvegas.com Tony Sena

    With the changes in Real Estate Technology, I don’t believe these major brands can keep demanding these outrageous fees they charge. I left Century 21 Aadvantage Gold in Henderson, NV a few years ago, our office was the # 1 Century 21 office in the world for 3 straight years, but with that said, it didn’t bring me in business. I generated my business! My Internet presence brought in my business, not the Century 21 brand. I no longer saw the value in hanging my license at an office that required a split and a 6% franchise fee.

    If you ask me to choose between a custom wordpress blog and a blog on HomeGain that looks like the ones I have seen, than there really is no comparison. The only think that HomeGain has going for them would be that the blog is on their domain name which is a plus but then you have to ask yourself, why wouldn’t I use an Active Rain, Realtown, REW or Wanna Network Real Estate Blog?

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com/ -Rob

    @Tony,

    Your sentiment is something I’ve heard a lot recently. I think it’s going to merit a separate post… because there is clearly a disconnect in the market between franchisors, franchisees, agents, brokers, and consumers.

    -rsh

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com -Rob

    @Tony,

    Your sentiment is something I’ve heard a lot recently. I think it’s going to merit a separate post… because there is clearly a disconnect in the market between franchisors, franchisees, agents, brokers, and consumers.

    -rsh

  • http://blog.homegain.com/ Louis Cammarosano

    The agent’s blog being on the domain of Homegain has huge advantages as our bloggers appear on the first page for key words like [city name] real estate blog an many have page ranks in their own right of 3’s and 4’s
    also with homegain’s agent view you don’t just get a blog, you get your listings featured exclusively in an advertising free environment along with your profile.

  • http://blog.homegain.com Louis Cammarosano

    The agent’s blog being on the domain of Homegain has huge advantages as our bloggers appear on the first page for key words like [city name] real estate blog an many have page ranks in their own right of 3’s and 4’s
    also with homegain’s agent view you don’t just get a blog, you get your listings featured exclusively in an advertising free environment along with your profile.

  • http://www.senasellsvegas.com/ Tony Sena

    Louis,

    When I check my market, Las Vegas Real Estate Blog like you stated, there is no Homegain Blog in the top 10 or even the top 30 for that matter. I even checked Austin, Seattle, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco and guess what, no Homegain blog in the top 10. I’m not discounting the strength of your blogs but I don’t think they are as strong as you think.

    On the other hand, Homegain does get a tremendous amount of traffic which is where I see the value in using a Homegain Blog.

  • http://www.senasellsvegas.com Tony Sena

    Louis,

    When I check my market, Las Vegas Real Estate Blog like you stated, there is no Homegain Blog in the top 10 or even the top 30 for that matter. I even checked Austin, Seattle, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco and guess what, no Homegain blog in the top 10. I’m not discounting the strength of your blogs but I don’t think they are as strong as you think.

    On the other hand, Homegain does get a tremendous amount of traffic which is where I see the value in using a Homegain Blog.

  • http://blog.homegain.com/ Louis Cammarosano

    Hi Tony
    There is no Homegain blog in the areas that you mention because we don’t have an agent using the homegain blogging systme in those cities!

  • http://blog.homegain.com Louis Cammarosano

    Hi Tony
    There is no Homegain blog in the areas that you mention because we don’t have an agent using the homegain blogging systme in those cities!

  • http://blog.homegain.com/ Louis Cammarosano

    Tony
    Check out where HomeGain does have bloggers
    Check out highly competitive “brooklyn real estate blog” #3
    melbourne real estate blog #2, menlo park real estate blog #4
    keep an eye on tampa real estate blog page two in just two weeks

  • http://blog.homegain.com Louis Cammarosano

    Tony
    Check out where HomeGain does have bloggers
    Check out highly competitive “brooklyn real estate blog” #3
    melbourne real estate blog #2, menlo park real estate blog #4
    keep an eye on tampa real estate blog page two in just two weeks