dave_mele-headshotWAV Group has a strong working relationship between many portal operators and the brokers and MLSs we support. Homes.com is among the largest portals in real estate and among the top providers of a franchise, MLS agent, and broker tools in real estate. Last week, Homes.com announced that David Mele was appointed the President of Homes.com. Previously, Terry Slattery was responsible for Homes.com business and the ForRent businesses. Homes.com effectively split the job in half and brought in David Mele to head up the Homes.com unit.

Mr. Mele has worked for Landmark’s Dominion family of companies for a long time and was previously in charge of operating The Virginian-Pilot and its affiliate business units. The Virginian-Pilot is the largest newspaper in the great State of Virginia and is the primary publication of the Hampton Roads Market, a DMA of roughly 1.5 million residents (and no major sports teams!). During his tenure at The Virginian-Pilot, Mele was celebrated by his company and by other newspapers across the nation for his management of the successful shift from print to a solid offering of print+online. He leaves The Virginian-Pilot in great shape with readership climbing as a result of the multimedia publishing strategy he led.

When asked, Mele suggested that there are four principles that will guide him at Homes.com. First, his goal is to connect consumers in the best way to information that they find valuable, without resurrecting any walled gardens. Secondly, Homes.com is going to pin their success on quality and accuracy of information. Third, Homes.com will maintain their steadfast course of supporting the community of real estate professionals connecting to the consumer. Lastly, his goal is better, not bigger.

I have never been a big fan of comScore for tracking publishers. I prefer to look at the size of the consumer audience in local markets using comScore’s competitor, Hitwise. Real Estate is local, and huge national numbers should not be used to project local online audience. Today, comScore ranking for portals in August looked something like this:

  1. Zillow – 59.1 million unique visits on desktop and mobile
  2. Trulia – 30.1 million unique visits on desktop and mobile
  3. Realtor.com – 24.1 million unique visits on desktop and mobile
  4. Yahoo – 9.9 million unique visits on desktop and mobile*
  5. Homes.com 8.1 million unique visits on desktop and mobile

*Zillow also operates Yahoo!, MSN, Scripts, AOL, over 360 newspaper portals

One of the interesting things about Homes.com is that it is a private company. Many of the public companies need to focus on growth or value as the cornerstone of their quarterly report. Homes.com has and will continue to take a long-term approach to operating its business. We will not sacrifice these long-term goals to make a quarterly goal, or an annual goal for the purpose of the shareholder. Of course, Mele will be focused on goals and success, but they will be couched in the culture of their business principles above shareholder principles.

Part of what prompted my call to Mele was to understand if his announcement was related to preparing the company for a public offering. Given the buoyed valuations of Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, I imagined that it would be a tempting proposition for Homes.com, too. The EBIDA on the purchase of MOVE was 32! Homes.com revenue is not public, but I know that it is significant and probably in the neighborhood of their competitors.

David Mele will be joining the Homes.com team at the upcoming convention of the National Association of REALTORS in New Orleans next month. From my call, he is a solid man, and I look forward to meeting him in person, too!

Welcome to our crazy industry.