Cyberhomes - data merchant

The latest from Cyberhomes is the evolution of their business model. Since launch, Cyberhomes has espoused that it would provide the infrastructure for data delivery first to the brokerages, starting with automated home valuation. Dustin Luther called it a "white label" Zillow.

Cyberhomes now powers the revamped AOL Real Estate site after AOL's contract expired with on September 30. The new role Cyberhomes plays is data liberator - AOL and other listings services no longer have to rely on listings data from gorilla competitor Moreover, Cyberhomes adds parent Fidelity National Title housing data for more comprehensive analysis of the market.

Cyberhomes doesn't have all of's listings yet. According to Marty Frame, GM of Cyberhomes, they have hired a national sales team of 9 so far to work with brokers to gain access to the listings. This allows Cyberhomes to quietly build the infrastructure for a national listings database.

Unfortunately, Cyberhomes and other listings aggregators like Trulia and Google Base are setting up a national listings database the hard way - using feeds and middleware (data integration software) to cobble together a type of Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) to display listings from disparate local MLS systems.

(I'm no expert on MLS system aggregation, but Mr. Wurzer is and the FBS Blog is distinctly original in the blog landscape for focusing on MLS. He explains succinctly the different paths to develop the "national MLS".)

Cyberhomes is particularly well positioned to capitalize on building the data delivery infrastructure because:

1) it has access to its parent's title plant (only other title companies might compete here);
2) it doesn't have the startup onus to develop a revenue model based on advertising like most of the listings aggregators, and therefore has no urgent nor distracting need to build online traffic;
3) it can focus on building an infrastructure platform that brokerages can use, and brokerage websites will likely remain dominant brand names to the consumer for the foreseeable future;
4) it can work with any partner with listings data... AOL Real Estate is a great start... and can provide plug & play value by populating listings (that are growing through the efforts of Cyberhomes' sales staff).
5) finally, it can begin to deliver transaction based services, like loan solicitation, based on user profiling... all through the brokers' or the aggregation partners' websites.

Real estate technology is odd because although it is dependent upon complex transaction processing systems (a lot of it still manual), there are few technology providers who offer comprehensive platforms for automating these processes. Systems seem to be all built internally - title insurance companies, MLS systems, real estate brokerages all build disparate products that don't cleanly interface or integrate with each other. At Inman News Blog today, I discuss this fragmentation and a new trend I'm seeing with companies like Cyberhomes and SecondSpace who are building infrastructure platforms that will quietly engine the industry.

related articles:
Cyberhomes' future

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