Saturday, November 27 2021

When the News Corp. and realtor.com operator Move Inc. acquires lead generation company Opcity for $ 210 million, it will also get a brokerage license.

News Corp. announced yesterday that it will acquire lead generation startup Opcity to complement realtor.com, its home search portal and lead generation product, which it operates for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which owns the website domain. Renters and potential buyers can search for properties on realtor.com, and agents can pay realtor.com for leads from potential buyers or sellers.

Opcity has a brokerage license in its home state of Texas, but the company does not represent buyers or sellers and that will not change after the acquisition, according to Move and Opcity.

“Move, Inc. is strongly committed to partnering with the real estate industry and keeping real estate professionals at the center of the transaction. We will never write offers, accept or buy or sell properties – that’s the job of our industry partners, ”Move spokesperson Janice McDill told Inman by email.

Ben rubenstein

The brokerage license is required for Opcity to collect a fee after selecting clients and referring them to agents belonging to other brokerages, McDill said, noting that his responses to Inman’s questions had been coordinated. with Opcity Founder and CEO Ben Rubenstein.

Move will retain the license for the purpose of collecting a referral fee, but has “no intention of buying or selling any properties,” McDill said.

“Opcity offers a broker-centric model designed to help brokers and their agents close more deals. It has no agents and does not list properties. This will not change, “she added.

Move itself has had a brokerage license in California for almost 20 years, since the days of Homestore, according to McDill. The company was granted the license at the request of the national licensing authorities regarding the display of rental ads, she said.

“We did not use this license to compete with our brokerage partners. We don’t buy or sell properties like a brokerage does, unlike our competitor, ”she said.

“Opcity offers a broker-centric model that improves the consumer experience while helping real estate professionals compete with iBuyers and other tech companies looking to disrupt them.”

OpCity

Promotional image of OpCity. Credit: OpCity

Realtor.com is not. 1 rival is Zillow, who announced earlier this month that he would be obtaining a broker’s license in Arizona at the request of the State Department of Real Estate to operate Zillow Offers, the platform for buying and selling “iBuyer” homes direct to the consumer, in the state. But Zillow maintains it does not intend to represent buyers or sellers or rental agents.

“Opcity was founded to provide brokers with an edge when competing against iBuyers and other tech disruptors, and its rapid growth demonstrates that there is a segment of the industry that prefers this model,” McDill said.

“With Opcity in our product portfolio, we are able to serve a new market segment. ”

Texas brokerage firm HomeCity owns a stake in Opcity, but after the acquisition closes, Opcity will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Move, according to McDill.

Inman contacted Move after a reader commented on the Opcity acquisition announcement: “A company with the name Realtor has now purchased a brokerage for ‘referrals’. Where is the outrage and where is the common sense to compete with your own clientele? ”

McDill said the acquisition was designed to help Move customers compete, not compete with them.

“This acquisition gives our customers another choice to select the flagship product that is best for them,” she said.

Opcity, launched in 2015, uses Proprietary data sets, applied analytics, and machine learning to capture online leads and match them with the right agents. The company’s concierge model examines buyers and sellers and makes sure they are prepared to complete transactions before they go to the agent.

The main screen of Opcity

Screenshot of Opcity’s lead generation app. Credit: Opcity

Opcity’s current customer base includes 40,000 agents across 5,000 brokerage firms, such as Better Homes & Gardens, Keller Williams, ReMax, Century 21, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.

“[O]ur acquisition of Opcity is not about adding another brokerage license. By responding to leads immediately online and matching a consumer with the right agent, Opcity gives realtor.com another way to do what we do best – connect professionals with consumers ready to transact, ”said McDill.

She noted that realtor.com has been offering its agent and broker clients the ability to purchase shared and unshared leads for years and will continue to do so after the acquisition.

“The agents and brokers who participate in our shared leads program understand that they will be competing with other brokers and agents who also purchase these leads. The acquisition doesn’t change that, ”she said.

Last month at Inman Connect San Francisco, Rubenstein himself answered the question of whether Opcity competes with other brokerages.

“At least in our world, it’s a shared model of success,” Rubenstein said. “We don’t make money unless the broker makes money.” Opcity takes a 30-35% referral fee when it takes the initial risk and buys leads, and a 20% referral fee when working with a broker’s own leads.

“For that 20% fee, we should be offering brokers a conversion rate increase of over 20% over what they have on their leads today,” he said.

When asked about the closing date of the transaction, Move noted that the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval and the approval of majority holders of Opcity shares.

Send an email to Andrea V. Brambila.

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