Speaking of Dustin Luther, he has posted a fantastic interview with Marty Frame of Cyberhomes. Read the whole thing. It’s filled with interesting observations and thoughts.
None more interesting than the conclusion:
What do you see as some of the biggest changes coming to online real estate in the next two years?
The herd will thin again based on two primary factors: performance and the degree to which each of the competitors unyokes itself from having to “monetize” by charging its content providers for traffic. Lagging the actual real estate market by just a little bit, we’ll see this turn from boom to street-fight pretty quickly, and only the insanely disciplined will come out the other side. The current cycle has given us a lot of good innovation to play with, however; so the survivors will have put the best of it together.
By the talk of “unyoking” and charging content providers for traffic, it seems clear that Frame is referring to the various ad-supported sites such as Trulia and Zillow, as well as referral-based sites such as HouseValues.com and LendingTree.
His idea that the survivors will have put the best of the innovations together is interesting if you think about it. Is the idea that first, there will be a street-fight, and based on depth of pockets, on efficiency of operations, etc., there will be two or three survivors who will then pick up the pieces and put together the best of innovations? Or that whoever survives will be those who can put all of the best pieces together?
And what is the business model for Cyberhomes anyhow? They have banner advertising on their site, but that hardly seems worth the trouble considering the size of Fidelity, the corporate parent to Cyberhomes. They’re giving away the content for free, but presumably, not out of the kindness of their hearts. It must lead to some sort of a sustainable business plan, even if it is simply as a lead-generator for its title insurance business, or as a way to gather more traffic information, or a way to sell the AVM products.
In any case, this is a great interview. Kudos to Dustin Luther for landing it, and for the job he does with the interview.