What happens when Redfin and Keller Williams get married and have a baby? Movoto.
Movoto has launched a new brokerage that is uniquely positioned to become one of the industry’s most dominant players and, in the process, upset almost everyone’s applecart.
Now you’re probably asking, “What is Movoto?” — never heard of it, right? Like Zillow, Movoto is a national search platform.
Take a look at where Movoto.com ranks on the organic search for “homes for sale” in these various major metropolitan areas:
- No. 8 in Miami and San Francisco
- No. 9 in Charlotte
- No. 10 in Houston
- No. 11 in Atlanta, Denver and Seattle
- No. 14 in Los Angeles and Manhattan
Although Movoto has been a search platform since 2005, it was acquired 2.5 years ago by $14 billion Japanese giant Recruit Holdings.
Recruit has two primary lines of business in Japan: job posting and real estate. In both cases, it occupies the no. 1 spot. On the real estate side, it owns Suumo, which is like Zillow in Japan.
In addition to its acquisition of Movoto, it acquired U.S. startup Indeed. Today, Indeed has become the no. 1 ranked job posting site, beating out Monster.com and CareerBuilder.
In 2017, Recruit decided to spin-off Movoto, LLC with an undisclosed investment in preparation for Movoto’s plan to expand as a click-to-mortar brokerage.
The Movoto search business model
Until the end of 2017, Movoto operated as an advertising platform like Zillow. Movoto differs from Zillow in that it receives a referral fee at the end of the transaction when one of its referral agents closes a deal.
The “market share” (sale) is credited to the agent’s brokerage rather than to Movoto.
The birth of ‘click-to-mortar’
I recently interviewed Alex Tieu, the head broker for Movoto in Southern California, about Movoto’s new click-to-mortar brokerage model. Tieu described Movoto as, “what happens when Redfin and Keller Williams get married and have a baby.”
This is an apt analogy because Maximillian Diez, Movoto’s vice president of real estate operations and U.S. managing broker, was the first agent for Redfin San Francisco and went on to expand the brand both in San Francisco and San Diego. Movoto currently employs six other former Redfin employees.
Tieu started as one of the first agents for Keller Williams in Southern California in 2004 and went on to become a team leader and operating principal with Keller Williams.
Diez and Tieu are leading the charge as Movoto blends its robust search platform with the best of both the Redfin and Keller Williams models.
Movoto also offers competitive commission splits for the agents’ self-generated leads as well as Movoto generated leads. Unlike online leads from most other sources, Movoto leads are scrubbed and ready to transact when they are assigned to an agent.
Testing the click-to-mortar model
Movoto decided to beta test the efficacy of its click-to-mortar model by conducting a year-long experiment in Fresno, California. It launched the Fresno office with 22 agents in January of 2017.
Unlike Redfin, which hires less-experienced agents (and, according to CEO Glenn Kelman at CEO Connect, relies on the strength of its systems to carry those agents), Movoto wanted to determine what would happen if it opened a click-to-mortar office, hired the best agents in a local community and invested in them. Here’s what it found:
- Movoto started beating Zillow in organic search for its market area.
- Movoto agents were more effective at lead conversion as compared the Movoto’s partner agents. As Tieu explains, if you’re working at Coldwell Banker, no one knows you converted a Movoto lead. At Movoto, its agents knew who was converting leads in their office.
- In 12 months, the Fresno office grew to 40 agents and closed 388 transactions with a total volume of over $91 million.
- Movoto’s agents increased their business on average by 15 pecent to 20 percent.
- Despite the fact that Movoto had zero name recognition at its launch, at the end of 2017, it had captured 3.5 percent of the Fresno market share.
Clearly, it had its proof of concept. Movoto’s primary takeaway from the beta test was: “If you invest in community builders, people who care about their communities and neighborhoods, and combine this with Movoto’s lead generation engine, you will outpace Zillow while simultaneously gaining major market share from your For Sale signs in the ground.”
Movoto’s brokerage core values
1. Customer experience first and foremost
Tieu described Movoto’s goal as “advocating for agent’s businesses while also creating a great, great customer experience. The customer experience always has to come first.”
To this end, Movoto surveys every client at the close of the transaction. To stay with the company, the agent must maintain a customer satisfaction rating of at least 80 percent.
2. Training matters
The only way new agents can join Movoto is to affiliate with an office team where they can be mentored. They also must meet specific criteria before they can receive incoming leads.
3. Entrepreneurial spirit of agents encouraged
According to Tieu, “Movoto gets it. Tech companies don’t understand entrepreneurship. They think it can be replaced by a salaried position, system or a machine. Movoto combines the best of both worlds. We’re the first tech company that supports the agent entrepreneur.”
Movoto has created a culture where its agents share the same values and feel that they are leading the charge that says, “We don’t have to choose between being a tech company or a traditional company — we can have both.”
Movoto expands its launch in California and Nevada
In addition to its launch in Fresno and Southern California, Movoto has successfully launched offices in Las Vegas, San Jose and San Mateo.
With over 100 million page views in 2017, look to Movoto to expand to other cities in California and, if all goes well, nationwide in the very near future.
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP (brokerageup.com) and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.