TechCrunch posts about Roost a new real estate site that bears a strong resemblance to Oodle. It now will enter the very competitive online real estate market for consumer and realtor attention. A potential difference between Roost and its competitors (e.g., Trulia, Zillow) is that it is working with the MLS databases to attempt to get complete for-sale coverage in the markets it serves, which are currently 13 major US metro areas. It also has FSBO listings.
Assuming the claims is accurate, comprehensive coverage could be a meaningful competitive differentiator, appealing to more sophisticated and Web savvy home buyers (if that becomes well-known). In addition, the ability to see property photos while on the site is a desirable feature. Roost also offers detailed, but now standard, sort, filter and save capabilities.
I believe that consumers will appreciate the idea of going to a single site — or otherwise reducing the number of sites they visit — and having confidence that they’re seeing everything for sale on the market. However, establishing that sense of trust and confidence among consumers will be something of a challenge as a newcomer in an already extremely competitive vertical.
TechCrunch indicates the business model is selling clicks to realtors. The success of that will depend entirely on scale and consumer traffic — or help from third parties who might try and “aggregate traffic” for local realtors from a range of sites. (Indeed, there’s an interesting “vertical SEM” opportunity here.)
Roughly $12 billion is spent annually in the US on real estate marketing. Borrell says that about $2.9 billion of that spend is online today.