Can a new Web site streamline homebuying?

By Amy Tennery | March 04, 2010 02:14PM

Matt Daimler, a technology wiz with little background in real estate, thinks he can solve some of the most vexing problems in New York City residential sales today.

His new site, Buyfolio.com, which launched Tuesday, allows buyers and brokers to communicate through a single Web page. After seeing listings on sites like Streeteasy.com and the NYTimes.com — or even brokerage sites like Corcoran.com and PrudentialElliman.com — users can save the listing to their personalized Buyfolio.com page and evaluate, compare, and organize them.

Both brokers and clients are welcome to launch pages — for free, for now — and no registration is required. When a listing changes in price or status, or it will be having an open house, the user is notified via e-mail, something Daimler said could eliminate the need to incessantly check listings on their home sites. Also, a broker can use the site to monitor his or her clients. Although the site is exclusively for residential sales in the five boroughs right now, Daimler said he’d be open to other listings, like commercial properties, in the future.

“We’re just sort of a collection of information with a link back to the original source,” Daimler, who, in the past, launched a successful airline seat guide called SeatGuru.com before selling it to Expedia, said. But while the concept sounds simple, Daimler said that he believes it could erase the tedium of traditional client-agent communication. Rather than e-mailing back and forth to talk about listings, brokers can easily access their clients’ pages, read which listing they like and even add listings for their clients to review. And the same back and forth exchange can occur between a buyer and a family member or friend.

Daimler said that, by solving avoiding these nuisances, brokers could gain a windfall.

“The idea that consumers are just going to use one information source,” is false, Daimler said. “One of the things brokers really worry about is that a buyer is going to find another listing [from another agent.]”

But with Buyfolio.com, Daimler said it would be easy for a broker to know when his or her client fancies a listing from another agent.

“They could go and see [that] there’s a listing [the client] found at Corcoran, for example,” Daimler said, rather than being left to guess whether the client has been shopping around.

“Every time I present it to brokers they’re like, ‘oh yea, of course,’” Daimler added.

But some are more skeptical.

“I’m not really impressed with it,” Tom Croke, a vice president with RealPlus, a real estate listing service company that Daimler said could one day be a competitor.

Croke said he doesn’t believe that clients will take the time to write comments to their agent on the site or go collect their own listings to post on their personal page.

“Usually, if they really like something, they pick up the phone and call you,” Croke said.

Still, Daimler said that the site has piqued brokers’ interests. So far, Daimler said that about 15 brokers have signed up with the site, and made pages for their clients, including Douglas Heddings, president of the Heddings Property Group at Charles Rutenberg Realty.

But Buyfolio may still have a way to go. Calls to listing services like PropertyShark.com, StreetEasy.com, and major residential firms like the Corcoran Group, Prudential Douglas Elliman, Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property yielded either no response or a “huh?”