A 'Model' Data-driven Company Uses That Data to Create Targeted Content

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Let’s play, “Name That Innovative, Data-Driven Company.” Here are the clues:

  • They carefully match people based on personality and other data.
  • Both parties then look to get together for a good result.
  • The applicant can make his or her decision based on past reviews of the other person.
  • Their motto starts with “The best way to find a…”

Match.com? eHarmony? Nope, it’s HomeLight—The best way to find a… real estate agent. What’s even more interesting about HomeLight for SIIA members is that they believe that good content contributes to their success. Their blog is excellent because the articles are data driven and of keen interest to anyone selling a house.

Devu Gandhi, VP of business development for HomeLight, just sent me their latest article, We Found the Best Time to Sell a House, and It’s Not When You Think. It lists data from various cities with charts and interviews of top agents. HomeLight may not call itself a publisher, but it’s a perfect example of using purposeful, targeted content to drive revenue—which they get from creating successful real estate relationships.

In his role, Gandhi focuses on building new partnerships and channels, and customer acquisition. He’s proud of the content that they create. Other articles include 24 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent Worth Their Salt and 12 Ways to Use Data to Sell Your House Faster. “We’re still nascent,” he said. “But I can work with partners to push content out.”

HomeLight fills one of five Models of Excellence slots—companies using data in new and innovative ways—chosen by InfoCommerce Group for the upcoming Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Fort Lauderdale. Gandhi will speak on a panel with executives from the other models, Monday morning, Nov. 14.

“We’re a company building around both sides of a marketplace,” said Gandhi, who joined HomeLight a few months ago. “We have a national platform with coverage in all major markets. We’re pretty complete on the agent side—where we monetize from—and now we’re focusing on the consumer side.”

HomeLight is already working with agents in most of the country. And areas where they don’t have agents they expect to have soon. When a consumer contacts HomeLight, he or she can go through their database to find an agent to match up with. That database features actual sales data and client reviews to find the “best real estate agent for you.”

It is the brainchild of Drew Uher, who when setting out with his wife to buy their first home found the process daunting. There was no real way to research an agent’s past transactions, and searching through review sites took hours. So you most likely went by friends or other recommendations.

“We found that is still the number one way [sellers get agents], by a vast margin, the people you know—neighbors, family members, word of mouth. While that can get you to an agent, there’s no understanding of that agent. What may be good for your friend may not be good for you. There might be a better performing agent for you.”

HomeLight agents are usually top 5% performers, although they do try to take into consideration those people who maybe aren’t there yet but are hungry, have the right qualitative metrics, and engage well with customers. They will onboard new agents and give them an understanding of how they work. Every agent then has a profile on HomeLight with all of their transaction data.

“We are not trying to change the basic business model,” said Gandhi. “Agents still only get paid after they close. We’re just trying to improve the process.”

He said he wants people to “come back to HomeLight and engage with us more directly. We’re a data company with data scientists [who compile] transaction data for our algorithms to make our matches better and make sure we’re reaching the right customers… There’s not a comparable platform.”

Gandhi was working in another real estate technology growth company prior to joining HomeLight. But this “is unique in filling what I saw a critical need in the industry—being disruptive enough to create a new value proposition and fill that need but not trying to break anything. And it was their time to scale.”

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…