Transparent 2007

Here are a few random ideas for 2007:

Mapping mashups are so 2006... how about mapping mashups with picture and video? Viewr starts to come close as a global travelogue of real estate, but I'm interested in seeing granularity - down to the neighborhood level with pictures and videos searchable across city maps. And while we're at it, how about public commentary on these various neighborhoods, even at the intersections, using Wiki -fied popups within the mapping mashup. And then, add social networking - allow the visitors to neighborhoods within the maps to interact with each other via chat and other identity schemas like avatars.

Aggregation is happening all over Web 2.0... the Trillianization of IM systems and blogs (RSS feedreaders)  are the precedents, next up are all those social networking sites (here are two betas). Unfortunately... Realtors are saddled with checking their MLS, Craigslist, Zillow, GoogleBase, edgeio, etc. There are a few listing automation companies that ease the Realtor's time consuming task, but sad to say that an effective real estate aggregation site still seems far away as long as the MLS systems don't uniformly cooperate... (although cracks are appearing in Houston). That means the Consumer and their Realtor advisors still need to hop around various search sites. An aggregating listing engine acting as a one-stop shop would allow comparisons across the search sites.

National sites providing localized real estate information - Active Rain's Localism is a first manifestation focusing on providing localized content - - -  social networking in the form of localized Realtor lists, pictures of and descriptive copy about locales and neighborhoods.

Title insurance companies jump into the data distribution business. Fidelity National Title's Cyberhomes AVM offering is their first consumer facing product. Expect other title insurance companies to follow suit because a Realtor or even the Consumer will favor the company that's providing free data and technology offerings (especially if RESPA is enforced the way it should).

Title insurance companies will learn how to market to the consumer. Fidelity's Spanish language title insurance information site is a first attempt at outreach. The companies are further developing market segmenting strategies that mirror the communities they serve.

I'll touch on mobile applications (Joel at FoREM is the expert), video and lead generation (start thinking about your new business models) later this year (which gives me a lot of leeway)...

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  • 1/3/2007 6:11 AM Ed Rybczynski wrote:
    Good insites about title insurers "reaching" directly to consumers. I wonder which insurer will be the first to try the new concept on a grand scale? I also wonder why title insurers have yet to integrate vertically into the realm of retail home sales and loan origination? I would think their pockets are deep enough to do so effectively.
    Reply to this
    1. 1/6/2007 9:12 AM Pat Kitano wrote:
      Thanks Ed, I think it's interesting that title insurance and auto/casualty/life insurance are completely separate products underwritten by separate companies. This in part explains why title hasn't learned the ropes of consumer marketing like their casualty counterparts - there seems to be no significant corporate overlap for such learning to happen.

      You've run title insurance operations, so you might educate me... I always got the impression the title insurers were integrated quite neatly into the transaction process, but they "appear" out of nowhere from the perspective of the consumer. Perhaps this is what you're referring to?

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  • 1/3/2007 3:31 PM Robert (property agent) wrote:
    I think the trend, briefly touched upon in this post, of national sites increasing providing local information should be of concern to the small local operator. The main competitive differentiator that the local estate agent had was exactly his local knowledge. If this is incorporated into national sites, one has to begin asking what role the local estate agent fills in the future.
    Reply to this
    1. 1/3/2007 3:46 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      The providers of local information on these national sites will be the local agents. Local agent can make the case with their articles and forum posts about their local real estate markets that they are the best agent for the website visiting consumer to work with. These sites are only a threat to local agents who don't participate in these new forums. Yes, it's more marketing work for the agents, but those who make the effort (and that includes blogging) will get the leads.

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  • 1/5/2007 9:16 PM Erik wrote:
    In honor of 2006 being the "year of the mashup", we put together the ultimate real estate professional's location mashup in December.

    (the fact that we weren't able to get it out the door until the first week of 2007 will be overlooked)

    Add your location at Realty AppMap and find out where all the other real estate companies and bloggers are.
    Reply to this
    1. 1/5/2007 11:59 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      I like RealtyAppMap Erik! Let's get it more publicity...

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