Toronto-based real estate startup WebsiteBox has acquired real estate marketing and technology company RealtySoft with the aim of expanding its offerings and rolling out a high-end, full-service site management product in the coming months.
Terms of the deal, which closed Jan. 18, were not disclosed. WebsiteBox is a privately-funded company and acquired RealtySoft with its own assets, Kurt Lynn, WebsiteBox's founder, told Inman News.
As part of the acquisition, RealtySoft founder and president Peyman Aleagha will transition to the CEO role previously held by Lynn at WebsiteBox and Lynn will continue as the company's chairman.
"We kind of came together late last year and decided to merge the companies (and) have WebsiteBox acquire RealtySoft," Aleagha said.
A serial entrepreneur, Lynn said he had no interest in managing the company on a day-to-day basis.
WebsiteBox was one of 25 companies that participated in Start-Up Alley at Real Estate Connect New York City this month. The startup offers mobile-friendly real estate websites for what it says is the lowest price on the market -- a one-time, $99 payment.
The sites include search engine-optimized, ready-to-publish content customized by real estate specialty; lead capture and customer relationship management capabilities, an all-in-one control panel; a branded email address; perpetual 24/7 website hosting; and full Internet Data Exchange (IDX) search integration.
RealtySoft, previously a subsidiary of Toronto-based Atigana Inc., offers real estate websites, IDX search tools, a customer relationship management platform, and customizable print marketing materials. RealtySoft has about 1,500 customers, all of whom have the option of either continuing with their current services or migrating to WebsiteBox, the company said.
"We will be resolving (our overall branding) over the next few months," Lynn said. "My gut feeling is that we will be migrating that all toward WebsiteBox. But the bottom line is we won't be leaving any RealtySoft clients high and dry."
WebsiteBox has signed vendor agreements with more than 120 multiple listing services in the U.S. and Canada and with the deal will also acquire most of the agreements MLSs have with RealtySoft, Lynn said.
"What it means is that agreements that RealtySoft may have had with different aggregators and MLSs and so forth we will adopt, or in some cases get permission to have them reassigned to us, so that should expand the amount of MLS data we have as well," he said.
WebsiteBox previously licensed RealtySoft's IDX software. Lynn, a consultant at RealtySoft between 2007 and 2012, said there were several benefits to the acquisition.
"We get some technology out of the (deal) that we were licensing before. We buy some customers. To us it was a logical thing to do given where we're going. From a resource perspective it kind of broadens our resource so we can do more," he said.
Lynn added that the company liked RealtySoft's backend and interface technology.
"The acquisition of RealtySoft ensures that we can offer both the best value and best full-service offering in the real estate website arena," he said in a statement.
In addition to keeping WebsiteBox's current, $99 offerings, the company will morph RealtySoft into a high-end, complete service package for real estate professionals that want to outsource all of their site management needs, he said.
"If you want to just pick up the phone and say, 'Look, I want my site to do this by tomorrow,' then that would be the RealtySoft thing," Lynn said.
"For all intents and purposes, RealtySoft will become your (information technology) department and they will manage your site," he said, whether a broker wants to change the site's design, motif, or search engine optimization strategy.
"We'll take care of it all; we'll do the dirty work. You're going to pay a lot more than $99 for that, but it's like having your own IT group," he added.
WebsiteBox will establish a clear differentiation between its two types of offerings, he said.
"RealtySoft will be the outsource place and WebsiteBox will be the simplest, least expensive, highest value website that agents can get," Lynn said.
He said he considers the amount real estate professionals often spend for real estate websites "over the top" and equivalent to price gouging.
"That just makes me crazy actually. I've been involved with technology for (many) years -- it flabbergasts me that people in the real estate world will pay" so much more than in any other industry, he said.
With WebsiteBox's future full-service option, Lynn said it would be very clear what agents and brokers are getting.
"That's our mission. We're going to be spoilers to some extent and I feel good about that," he said.
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