A new home search site launched last week that aims to bring the process of finding a home to consumers without the for-profit model that has accompanied most real estate search sites since they first disrupted the industry nearly 20 years ago. Nestfully, a joint launch with several of the largest multiple listing services in the country, doesn’t sell user information to third parties or charge real estate agents to have their name associated with a home listing that isn’t theirs so that only the listing agents of a property appear on the page for each home.
The site’s initial launch includes all listings from CRMLS in California, the seven states within the East based-Bright MLS footprint and REcolorado, the largest multiple listing service in Colorado. Two MLSs from Florida expect to onboard soon and active discussions are underway to bring onboard many more from the country’s largest markets, according to Amit Kulkarni, Chief Marketing Officer of Bright MLS.
“The biggest question we’ve gotten this week was, ‘okay, this is great, but how much is [it] going to charge me in referral fees for every lead that I get?’,” said Art Carter, President of CRMLS.
“We’re not here to make money on leads,” Kulkarni explains further. “There’s no ads on the site. We’re not going to allow people to pay for placement. We’re creating an open marketplace so the United States consumer can participate in that property game.”
As consumers become more wary of sharing any information online, including their browsing history, the real estate industry has started to respond by embracing the ‘web3’ approach to interacting with clients. Web3 refers to the next evolution in the digital universe which is often described as following a “read, write, own” trajectory. At first the Internet was a place that housed information with very little opportunity for interaction from users (a “read only” model). As it becomes a more immersive experience the demand from users to have more control over their online presence is expected to grow into one where they can have ownership over their data and how it is used.
“There is a very obvious lack of transparency to the consumer,” says Carter, referring to the majority of online search portals in the U.S. “The properties that are being presented to them are being done so because there’s monetization going on behind the scenes.”
Nestfully anonymizes user search behavior on the site and only when the user wants to reach out to a real estate agent will their contact information be shared.
“A person is not going to start getting phone calls because they saved five different homes so five different agents are going to call that person to bug them,” said Mehul Patel, Vice President, Product Management & Technology of Constellation1 which supports the technology of the site.
“We’d like to think of ourselves as the Bumble of real estate,” said Kulkarni, referring to a dating site where women are the only ones allowed to make the first contact.
Nestfully plans to roll out several enhancements soon, most notably a method for home valuations that reps for the site say will be more transparent in how it arrived at a valuation for the property in an effort to address the inaccuracies and discrimination that exists within many current automatic valuation models. Another addition will be the ability to delete furniture from existing listing photos and add a user’s own images so they can visualize what the room will look like.