For years, Realtor.com has been widely predicted to fail, even with an audience that is more than twice the size of its next closest rival. Its technology has not been considered innovative, the quality of its customer service has been questioned, and pricing has also been considered out of line.
But new CEO Steve Berkowitz, the search innovator who launched Ask.com and most recently ran MSN, says the company’s brightest days may still be ahead of it. Speaking at Inman’s SF Connect, Berkowitz said the company has amazing amounts of real estate knowledge in its executive ranks, a “couple of hundred thousand” customers and unparalleled customer service, whatever the reputation.
“We have 150 customer service reps taking calls every month from a couple of thousand of real estate professionals,” he says. “We’re willing to pick up the phone on an hourly basis.”
The biggest task confronting Realtor.com is probably getting its underlying technology up to speed, notes Berkowitz. The company has 200 engineers toiling away in three locations, but they have to grapple with a legacy system, he says. “We’ll take 25 percent of the engineering talent and focus on what needs to be done under the surface,” he says. “That will free up the front end” and let the Realtor assume his or her more natural role as a marketing consultant offering products at every pricing level.
“It is a business that is so local that it really needs to be done at the local level,” he adds.