I wanted to write a response to Rob’s article to shed some more light on the details of the Buyer Graph, and to address some of the questions he raised. Rob, who is a great friend and someone I respect immensely, has graciously allowed us to publish our response here. Thank you, Rob.
Fundamentally, the question Rob raises is whether or not the Buyer Graph is an exclusive, closed “cabal” of brokerages, or an open platform where any party is welcome to participate. From the very beginning, the Buyer Graph has been designed as open platform. In my open letter published hours ago, I made it clear that today marks an invitation to brokerages nationwide to reach out and join our growing platform.
For some background on the NYC Buyer Graph: As part of our national expansion, we first started speaking with brokerages in New York City over two years ago to gauge interest in adopting the RealScout software. At that point, we didn’t have the idea of a Buyer Graph in place, as we were focused on our core functionality in helping agents collaborate with their clients around home search.
As more brokerages decided to sign-on with RealScout, however, it was clear that there was an opportunity to build a data network between brokerages, thereby providing an additional benefit to our customers.
It was there that the Buyer Graph idea was born. After the idea came together, we continued conversations with more and more brokerages in NYC to invite them to the network, which is how we got to our 7 inaugural members — a process spanning 27 months and involving our standard customer acquisition process and agreements.
In many ways, this launch process is similar to other platform and network launches, even those in other industries. Think about how Apple Pay was launched. Apple speaks to major retailers around the country to see if they’d participate in their payment platform, launches with a certain group of retailers, and continues to sign-up partners post-launch.
Our brokerage partners have been enthusiastic supporters of a open platform, and have in fact helped us by inviting their peers (large and small) to join. This is because there’s a strong advantage to our existing members (and for RealScout as a company) for this network to grow. Similar to any network — think LinkedIn or eBay, where the more participants in a network or market, the better it is for members.
I think one of the key questions Rob asked is whether or not we’d welcome Zillow or Redfin when it comes to the Buyer Graph, and whether that would eliminate the benefit of the Buyer Graph.
For the reasons above, we would absolutely welcome Zillow, Redfin, Compass or any of the other real estate brokerages onto the Buyer Graph. Having a broader-base of the market to collaborate with is a benefit to our members.
Does having an inclusive Buyer Graph negate its benefits? Not at all. The point of the Buyer Graph isn’t about building yet another walled garden in real estate, it’s about breaking them down.