From the March issue: Back-end listings systems for residential firms has long been the domain of two firms: RealPlus and On-Line Residential. But with a slew of new venture-backed competitors such as Perchwell and Nestio breaking onto the scene, the landscape is shifting.
Amid the changing market, The Real Deal decided to take a quick look at OLR, which has been around since 1995:
OLR wasn’t first on the scene, but it was the first to offer an electronic platform for sharing residential listings when it debuted. Back in the days of dial-up modems, founder Jonathan Greenspan, a former commercial broker, said he had five computers lined up on a desk, and firms would log in starting at 6 a.m. each day to download new listings.
Prior to that, he said, “Not only was there no vehicle to share listings among a cooperating pool of brokerage firms, but many firms — particularly the larger, more established ones — saw no need to co-broke.”
Greenspan said OLR’s mission since launching has been to offer standardized, clean data to brokerages of all sizes.
Despite new rivals vying for market share, brokerages have continued to pay to play ball with the 50-person company, which has a 7,000-square-foot office in the Financial District. While Greenspan declined to disclose market share data, he said about 12,000 New York agents use OLR. Clients include major firms such as Compass and Halstead Property, which pay to access one of its most valuable offerings — its deep well of historical data. (TRD also uses it regularly to analyze listings information.)
In addition to managing listings and sending them into the RLS, OLR lets clients track deals completed by a firm, office, team and agent. It’s a feature others (like Perchwell) also offer, but OLR has beefed up its development team in response to the competition and plans to roll out a new media platform for uploading photos, floor plans and video for listings. And it recently introduced a mobile listing tool with the option for real-time push notifications, among other features.
“An agent can enter a new apartment, take pictures with their phone, write some copy and have the listing on their website within minutes,” Greenspan said.
According to Greenspan, syndication of the RLS hasn’t impacted OLR’s business. “Markets always have new entrants,” he said, though he added that he believes the space is “cluttered” with too many information sources.
Still, the free market breeds competition, and that’s pushed everyone to improve product development — himself included: “If I stood still, I’d be out of business.”
With competition intensifying, he said, OLR has hired additional programmers and is upgrading products in the development queue. Although OLR lost a “few clients” to Nestio early, Greenspan said the attrition was because the startup was a “new shiny wheel.”
“None of these new entrants have a sliver of the experience offered by OLR,” he said.