The Broker Public Portal has quickly evolved into a viable alternative to paying for advertising and leads on the portal sites. REAL Trends spoke with two brokers who were early adopters to talk about agent adoption and future plans.
“The joint venture with Homesnap propelled the initiative to deliver a product that is easy for agents to post listings and receive leads with the comfort of knowing that those leads would not be resold,” says Craig McClelland, vice president and chief operating officer of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers in Atlanta, Georgia. McClelland is the secretary of the BPP Board of Managers. His firm is one of the early adopters of the Broker Public Portal, (BPP) which is owned and operated by real estate brokerages and MLSs to deliver a better home search experience and provide the same comprehensive, real-time MLS data used by real estate professionals. “The BPP is agent-centric; not advertising centric,” says McClelland, who notes that at the local level, the Georgia MLS has recently rolled out BPP and Homesnap.
BHGRE Metro Brokers has 26 offices and 2,400 agents and delivered over one million leads to its agents in 2018, with no charge to the agents for those leads. “Being involved in BPP gives them the tools that protect their business so they can build a business. There are a lot of tools out there that do the same, but agents have to pay for it and where their contacts end up is anyone’s guess,” he says. “If you’re in a market that doesn’t Homesnap, this is the time to raise your hand and ask how to get involved and get the product to your market.”
For John M. Deely, CRB, principal managing broker with Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle, Washington says, “The data we can deliver to our clients through the BPP is superior to anything we’ve had before and competes with some of the tech companies that are presenting data to our clients. It levels the playing field,” he says. He says his agents particularly like social media marketing solutions. “We’re in the center of the tech vortex, and we have a lot of workers who rely on multiple apps and resources,” says Deely. He tells the story of a recent Millennial homebuyer who had “all these different searches with multiple portals going on.” We showed him the Homesnap app, and it provided him with a different listing that wasn’t showing up on the other portal searches. “He and his wife were so impressed with that. It ended up being the home they bought.”
In 2014, a handful of real estate industry visionaries set out to prove the naysayers wrong. Brokerage firms representing 300,000 agents and MLSs with 350,000 subscribers announced an effort to develop and manage a new consumer-facing website. The collaboration was born, and brokerage firms and MLSs contributed funding to establish the governance of the Broker Public Portal.
A Limited Liability Company was formed, and it drafted one of the first applications to utilize the RESO RESTful API that the National Association of REALTORS® set as the new standard for MLS data. The use of a standard API resulted in the rapid adoption of the Broker Public Portal concept by MLS organizations across the country. In very short order, 45 MLSs joined the effort.
From the beginning, the concept was straightforward. Broker Public Portal sought to place control of home listings back in the hands of the professionals who list and sell the property while providing consumers with a better online experience through direct access to real-time MLS data. The concept also was committed to connecting consumers with the professionals best equipped to help them, the people who sell homes, not advertisements.
In January 2017, Broker Public Portal and Homesnap formed the National Broker Portal, LLC, a venture equally owned by the two companies. They agreed that the best path to success would be to establish a mutual partnership with Homesnap providing technology, brand, and operational expertise, rather than creating a vendor agreement. As equal partners, their interests are aligned.
This strategy added significant momentum to the project. The Homesnap consumer app became the No. 1 rated app in the Apple Store. Homesnap Pro gained penetration becoming available to 71 percent of U.S. agents. And by the end of 2017, the number of participating MLSs increased to 145, a growth rate of 150 percent. Broker Public Portal with Homesnap represented brokerages and MLSs with over 875,000 agents. A revolutionary idea is becoming a reality. About 80 percent of the real estate industry is comprised of the largest 100 MLSs; the remaining 20 percent is represented by less than 600 smaller MLSs.
One of the future goals of the BPP, according to Deely, is to “work on more information. That’s what our firm is doing with Homespotter within the Matrix, where one can set up and manage searches for clients to help them understand what they’re looking at and help them find the right home.”
According to McClelland, “We understand, as business owners and operators, that you can’t take your eye off adoption until you’re fully adopted. You can’t set new goals when you’re not finished with the first goal, which is nationwide adoption.”
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