Webdigs Begins Trading OTC

Webdigs is a real estate brokerage operating in Minnesota, Florida and Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Florida and offers a refund similar to how Redfin offers a refund.

Curiously they’ve announced this week that their shares are available to be traded under the symbol WBDG.

Thanks to Sasha for digging up their SEC filing, Form 10-Q, which outlines all the nitty gritty details of their business:

  • “At July 31, 2008, the Company reports a negative working capital position of $919,825, accumulated deficit of $2,349,210″
  • “The Company’s principal advertising agency/website developer was owed $490,465 at July 31, 2008 ”
  • “We have closed 50 transactions in representation of buyers since inception and eleven transactions in representation of sellers.”
  • “Since inception, we have acted as a mortgage broker in about 124 mortgage transactions generating total mortgage fee revenue of $614,000 as of July 31, 2008.”
  • “We believe we received a total of $226,000 from loan origination and processing fees and a total of $388,000 from yield spread premiums through July 31, 2008.”
  • “Our yield spread premiums through July 31, 2008 averaged 0.84%.”
  • “We have recently obtained approval from the Commissioner of Insurance in Minnesota to refer Webdigs customers to an unaffiliated insurance broker, Webdigs Insurance Agency, LLC, for quotes on their home and other personal insurance policies. Should a referred customer end up purchasing insurance through our referral, we will receive a commission for the referral.”
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New Redfin Now Live

Wow, it’s been a long slog but the new version is now up!

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ZIPR Releases Q3 Numbers

ZipRealty announced their Q3 numbers today and I’m a little surprised, I wasn’t expecting such growth in number of transactions.

Highlights:

  • 5,019 transactions in Q308 compared to Q307 (up 31%) (though revenue only increased from $27.2m to $30.7m)
  • 2,814 agents up from 2,263 from end of Q307
  • Net revenue per transaction has declined from $7,110 to $6,130.
  • Operating expenses are flat at around $34m
  • Still losing money
  • Has $60m in the bank

So they’re doing more deals, but the deals are smaller and they’ve added a lot of agents. I wonder if their increase in transactions is a result of expansion or are they also seeing an increase in transactions in their mature markets?

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Send to GPS

Microsoft launched a Send to GPS feature, MSN Direct Enables Web Sites to Deliver Location Information to GPS Navigation Devices.

Interesting. This certainly would be nice to add to our favorites experience. I wonder what GPS devices are users have? Or are most popular?

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TechCrunch Finally Asks…

How Accurate Are Listings On Real Estate Sites?

Which I think is a great question to ask and surprising it has taken TechCrunch and the like so long to ask.

Why? Because a consumer searching for a home in San Diego doesn’t care that Trulia/Zillow has 3 million listings nationwide; they care how many listings the search sites in their area have.

Unfortunately for Redfin we’re not in every market but the markets we are in we have almost all the listings.

Where do we get our listings from?

  • The local MLS. In some areas (SoCal) we get listings from 5 different MLSes to piece together most accurate MLS picture. But even so we don’t import multi-family, land and other MLS listings. We plan to change this soon.
  • Zillow who gives us for sale by owner
  • 50+ other FSBO partners
  • A bank listed foreclosure partner

What’s missing? Craigslist which gets a large number of FSBOs.

We’re also up front about what our listing inventory includes with the statement, Do I see all the homes for sale on our map page.

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New Version of Redfin

Glenn’s got rundown on the latest version of Redfin.

The things we really debated about in this release were:

  • The icons we added to the details page and use on the new favorites page. Do they look good?
  • The last chart on the neighborhood pages. Do you understand it?
  • The entry point for neighborhood pages on the map page. Can you find it?
  • The entry point for neighborhood pages on the details page. Can you find it?
  • Expand/collapse on favorites. Would people discover it?
  • Default view for favorites is collapsed. Is that the right default?

Any thoughts?

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Zip 2Q Results

ZipRealty Announces Second Quarter 2008 Results

  • At June 30, 2008, there were 2,559 ZipAgents employed, up from 2,070 agents at the end of the second quarter 2007. On a sequential quarterly basis, agent count increased by 274 from March 31, 2008.
  • The total value of real estate transactions closed decreased to approximately $1.32 billion in the second quarter of 2008 versus $1.41 billion for the same period in 2007.
  • The total number of transactions closed increased approximately 17.4% to 4,681, compared to 3,988 in the second quarter last year.
  • Average net revenue per transaction decreased approximately 16.6% to $6,381 from $7,649 in the second quarter of 2007.

So, revenue is flat but they’re working on more (smaller) deals. At the same time they’ve increased the number of agents by 20% decreasing their revenue per agent.

Update: Ah, now that I’m listening to the call I see that the agents were primarily added for their new expansion markets.

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Inman Article on Our Panel

Here’s the Inman wrap up of our panel on building a better brokerage website, Clients can tell you how to build ‘killer’ Web site.

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Inman Connect 08 – Tired.

I’m at the airport headed home from Inman. I had to leave early to make it home in time for a birthday party :).

This was my second Inman Connect and re-affirmed what I felt the first time which was that the conference really is for real estate agents and their vendors. For those of us breaking away from the way things have been done there is little value in attending the sessions as the hard questions are never asked*.

However, there is definite value in the parties; they are a great opportunity to connect with competitors and allies alike to swap gossip and trade secrets. Thanks to both Trulia and Active Rain for hosting great parties (though how much did Active Rain spend on that penthouse monster suite I felt like we were partying like we were at the height of the bubble not the bottom!) …You know you had a busy night when you wake up the next day and remember that you forget to eat dinner the night before.

And thanks to whomever put me on the building a better brokerage website panel! The discussion from that panel can really be summed up as listen to your customer and do what is right by them.

It’s funny, because after the session someone came up and asked me the question that we really should have been discussing given the crowd, which is, as an agent do I really need my own listing site? This particular agent was concerned that he’d never be able to compete against the likes of Redfin, Zillow and Trulia by purchasing a listing site from one of the many vendors out there. And I think he’s likely right. Individual agents shouldn’t be spending the energy on listing sites because they will never build a site better than even the average site. I think agents would be best served spending time on blogging in order to build an online brand and attract people. However, if you want to build a serious real estate company you will need to have a listing site that differentiates and to do so you won’t be able to buy one because whatever you buy will be just like your competitors. What you’ll need to do is build one. And that is going to be a lot of work but teams like Sawbuck and Estately prove it can be done with only a handful of folks if you hire right.

Overall, I’m really glad I came, (though sad I’m missing the last night) but I’m headed home exhausted with a few ideas on what we can do better and determined to stay focused on the customer because it seemed like everyone else is too focused on leads, selling to each other, and competing on the wrong things.

*What are the hard questions? Some of the questions I wanted asked and discussed are:

  • Better Home and Gardens launched a national search engine. So what? Everyone has a national real estate search site these days: HGTV, Yahoo, Google, Trulia, Zillow, and on and on. How many do people really need? How are they going to stand out?
  • No, really, why do we have so many MLSes? What are we doing to consolidate them?
  • Why do MLSes impose so many anti-consumer regulations (no co-mingling, no listings in spreadsheet form, login required to see address.) Who do these regulations benefit? Do brokerages really want them?
  • Do brokerages really want to out source their SEO to Trulia? No one was questioning Trulia at all in the listing aggregators vs MLS discussion. Realogy, isn’t it embarrassing that your results don’t show up on Google but your listing on Trulia does? Brokerages are rapidly becoming addicted to Trulia and will start to feel the squeeze soon.
  • Do we want all our MLS regulations in light of the regulation free world of listing aggregators?
  • How can we improve our MLSes? Some things I’d like to see are short sale flags, expanded photo limits, and making the MLS the source of open house info
  • How can we help customers navigate these troubled times?
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Better Homes and Garden Launches. So What?

Better Homes and Garden launched their new brand and real estate search site today. From a consumer perspective I don’t see why I’d switch from the current site I would be using to this.

Here’s a search for 98122.

Likes

  • Their tabbing of the results list makes recent sales nice and discoverable
  • I like how the search options expand (the default view) and collapse
  • I like the rollovers on Look, Learn, Live. It makes the sub-content discoverable.
  • Auto complete for search locations

Dislikes

  • The site is slow. At Inman someone from the site said that they get all the listings in real time via a webservice call instead of storing them themselves. Yikes.
  • They only have 6 listings in 98122. We have 314.
  • The plus/minus controls for square footage and price require way too many clicks to get the value you want
  • Auto complete for search locations doesn’t include neighborhoods

Most troubling for me is when someone at Inman asked them how the site was different for customers from all the other websites out there and the answer was a long winded response about a brand you can trust and a “lifestyle” brand instead of addressing what costumers are looking for and aren’t getting from their competitors that they now offer.

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