A Quick Personal Announcement & Shameless Plug

Just wanted to make a quick personal announcement coupled to a shameless plug. I have decided to take on a great little company as a 7DS Incubator client, but go well beyond the norm for such an engagement, because I believe this company has the potential to bring about real change to the industry. When I wrote that we will see no exciting new technology in 2011, I had to leave these guys out because of my relationship with them. Well, I can now say that this company will bring some exciting new things to the real estate industry, in 2011, and I am going to help them do it.

The company is National Buyer Listing Service, or NationalBLS. The founder and CEO, Duncan Logan, is one of the smartest guys in the business who few people know well. Hopefully, that will change soon. And as of this morning, I am the interim President & COO of NationalBLS, on a part-time basis.

What is NationalBLS? Well, the current company info says this:

NationalBLS is the first national database of prospective residential real estate buyers. We allow buyers to input their requirements for a home and anonymously broadcast those requirements to the web. Sellers in the market, or those thinking about entering the market, can find active able buyers and approach them privately through our system. We promote the use of real estate agents and brokers but also enable sellers to transact on their own. Our primary focus is to create a central marketplace to increase liquidity in the residential real estate market for everyone’s benefit. We intend to achieve this by partnering with all market participants.

Online real estate has always been property-centric: listings, listings, property info, public data, and more listings. Or, with the rise of social media, online real estate has incorporated marketing and promotion of real estate agents and brokers, as well as brands. The enormous missing piece has always been buyer demand. It takes two sides to complete a transaction, but as an industry, we have near-zero insight into what it is that the buyer wants until well after the fact, through the actual closed price transaction.

I believe that NationalBLS is a potentially transformative technology. I believe that its products and services can be modified to fit in neatly to how the industry works, and should work. And I can’t tell you how excited I am to be helping a brilliant entrepreneur like Duncan with achieving his vision in a hands-on, more-than-advice, way.

I will still be working through 7DS Associates for my consulting clients. There may be some clients I cannot take on, and some issues I cannot work on, due to my role at NationalBLS raising conflict issues, but as of now, I am confident that no conflicts exist.

I wish I could tell you all more, but there will be plenty of time for that sort of thing. But it’s some pretty exciting stuff. 🙂

Thanks, and definitely, more later.


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Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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12 thoughts on “A Quick Personal Announcement & Shameless Plug”

  1. Sounds like a familiar model – even some of the verbiage is scary close to what we’ve been doing (for over 10 years) and commenting on your blog for the last few months. We will be interested in seeing how you scale this at the local level.

    We chose to niche out a property type – taking on the whole market will be a challenge – one I’m sure your up for. Good luck.

    Brian Hickey

  2. Bring it on, Rob! BLS could make a spectacularly revolutionary change to the fundamental model of real estate in this country, and I will be eagerly awaiting future updates.

  3. The technology part would be doable, but it seems to me that the costs required to scale such a marketplace would be a huge challenge. Misc thoughts:

    – Anyone can put their wish list into a database. But are they motivated and able to buy (e.g. – are they real buyers)?. Unless there’s a real qualification process, then you’ve got a database of meaningless data (Zillow’s ‘make me an offer’ for sellers comes to mind). Seems like you need, at minimum, a loan officer to bonify the buyer’s ability to buy.

    – It seems like you need at least one real estate agent – buyer’s agent – involved to represent the buyer, put the deal together and get to closing. How do you build your network of buyers agents? Do you qualify them? Would this be a referral-based service?

    – How do you get the word out to buyers? Will it be based on social media only? Is that enough to get enough buyers? Seems like you would need a regional rollout, and the marketing costs could be steep.

    – Once you get some buyers, how do you reach sellers? Seems like you would need quite a few buyers to make a connection with a single seller. How do sellers know you exist? Multiply the money spent attracting your buyers by ten.

    – How do you make money? If most obvious model would be to take a referral from the buyer’s agent. Is that enough to build a business? Or, would you create an entirely new model – like having the buyer agree to pay a fee?

    It all seems like a good idea from a technical perspective, but building an efficient and profitable market based on buyer demand seems like a long-shot. Good luck.

  4. One of the biggest differences between buyers and sellers is that sellers know what they have to sell: a house.

    Buyers often have *no* idea what they want besides 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, under $400k. The guidance that a great agent offers is intangible. As of yet, I don’t think that a system can listen and interpret as well as a great agent can.

    The facilitating transactions part sounds interesting.

  5. I wonder how this is different than the reverse prospecting features already in MLS systems? The primary difference I see here with BLS is that consumers can enter their own data directly into the system. I also vaguely recall that there have been a few attempts at this already , though I can’t remember the URL(s) of the prior attempts.

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