If you know anything about Hunt Real Estate Corporation, you know that they are a family owned and operated brokerage with high integrity and a fierce approach to competition. Since 1911 they have been a market leader in upstate New York, cities like Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and the many Southern Tier communities that border Pennsylvania. They recently expanded into the Boston marketplace through a significant acquisition. We have known the Hunt family since Marlyn and I lived in Orchard Park, NY. We became friends through our interactions at The Buffalo Club and The Country Club of Buffalo. At the time, Marilyn ran marketing at Fisher-Price and I was spinning up my first start-up companies.
Hunt and Howard Hanna, a company who entered the marketplace with through two major acquisitions in Upstate New York, leave very little market share behind for any other brokerages who are trying to compete in the communities they serve. These firms dominate, each with transaction volume that exceeds 20,000 sides. These markets demand that brokers achieve high unit volume because the price points are low. They are diversified into banking, title, insurance, commercial, property management, new home development, and have significant relocation business. Hunt launched Buyside about a year ago, taking a risk with a technology investment that has really paid off.
I met the founder of Buyside, Charles (Chuck) Williams, years ago in Philadelphia when he was building Buyer MLS in his garage while raising a young family and working a full-time job. I did not have time to meet with him, so he offered to give me a ride to the airport, and we have been friends ever since. At the time, WAV Group was supporting Fox and Roach though a strategic planning process to marry the broker website, agent websites, CRM, lead management, CMA, transaction management, and a plethora of other services as an end-to-end soliton for agents to best serve their clients – all supported through single sign-on and APIs that allowed solutions to pass data between applications. Our ambition was to transform the brokerage’s information delivery from being solely MLS driven, to becoming parcel driven. Then, and today, brokers need to provide the same information that Zillow and other online leaders provide on off-market properties. In the end, Buyside was selected by Fox and Roach, and we watched as their success with the product unfolded.
Over the years, the strategy played out. Like Fox and Roach, Hunt also deployed the same strategy, giving consumers the unique opportunity to view Automated Valuation Models on off-market properties. In rethinking how to best educate the consumers, it was determined that a single AVM like the Zillow® Zestimate® was not enough. Brokers and agents know that AVMs are often significantly wrong. Buyside corrected path with this understanding by enabling multiple AVMs to be displayed on off-market properties. In many cases, the AVMs displayed on Buyside may include the Zestimate, Collateral Analytics, and the RVM® from Realtor’s Property Resource. By showing three AVMs, the broker debunks the myth that Zillow or any other company can predict the value of a home. The AVMs show ranges of property values, and each of them suggests grossly variable estimates. It exposes the weakness of an AVM to the consumer and encourages them to contact an agent. A property is always worth exactly what a willing buyer offers, and a willing seller accepts. At the same time, the consumer realizes that banks use AVMs too. Transaction prices that are significantly outside of the AVMs need a damn good appraisal if you expect to close.
Buyside does a lot more than put public record data and AVMs on a page. The product displays market conditions, and key economic indicators about the housing market for neighborhoods, zip codes, and the larger area. It paints a complete picture of the market. Most of all, it allows the broker to display the number of buyers that are in the market for that property – a feature that Zillow, Realtor.com and others have never displayed.
Buyside is also a unique listing presentation tool. It allows agents to sit with a seller and go through their listing presentation as they normally would. They talk about their brokerage, their marketing network (Franchise, etc), the power of the MLS, how they will market the property online and offline. At the end of the listing presentation, the agent tells the seller something that nobody else in the market has told them – how many buyers they represent who are a match for their home. Ergo, they are going to market the property to find buyers like every other broker, but moreover, they already have buyers for the home. Sign here. Press hard, and we will begin marching our buyers into your home for a fast closing. With Buyside, the broker and agent are able to say that they have the buyers in hand, and they will shake the bush. Game Changer!
Aside from our consulting to MLSs and Brokers, WAV Group consults with a lot of technology companies to sharpen their understanding of the marketplace for their products. Too often, technology firms get caught up in features and forget to clearly articulate the strategic value of their product. Buyside’s message is clear. They have no competitors. Their product delivers its promise. Head nod to 1000 Watt Consulting and my highly esteemed friend, John Heithaus for their efforts here. This recent video interview with Peter Hunt tells the story of Buyside from the broker perspective. This is a great example of technology hitting it’s mark. Herein, Hunt Real Estate Chief Executive Officer, Peter Hunt delivers straight talk about Buyside. If you know Mr. Hunt, he holds his technology partners highly accountable. For his firm, and many others – Buyside is an incredible success.