Real Estate

Agents Feel The Pain As BoomTown Outage Extends Into Another Week

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Real estate professionals say they fear the effects of problems stemming from an ongoing tech outage at the company that powers their businesses will last for months as they eagerly wait for BoomTown to bring their sites back online.

Since April 10, entire brokerages have been without access to the operational tools that are at the core of their businesses, from contact relationship management systems (CRMs) to accounting management, lead generation and marketing materials.

Real estate websites for brokerages across the country went completely dark last week while BoomTown suffered from an unspecified issue that disrupted its service. The outage left Realtors without ways to collect or contact leads, market properties and perform other critical tasks.

As brokers and Realtors anxiously waited for their service to be restored, some feared the outage would cause immediate and lasting damage to their businesses.

Cody Harvey | #1 Properties

“I’ve probably lost $130,000 in business,” said Cody Harvey, a Realtor in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “I had a new client that was on a home drip and they went to Zillow. They requested a tour through a new agent, and they got [the house].” 

“It’s our entire database. We have over 100,000 leads in there,” said Brad Weiner, broker at Realty On Main near Atlanta.

The company hasn’t said what caused the outage. It has instead said the problems were caused by a “server outage” and that they were focused on solving the problem by April 14.

By Monday morning, websites for firms that use BoomTown were restored but without full functionality or the ability to showcase homes for sale. Realtors said they didn’t have access to the backend and were still largely sidelined while navigating a busy spring homebuying season.

BoomTown, which said it had more than 100,000 clients when it was acquired by Inside Real Estate last year, placed a banner at the top of its clients’ sites notifying visitors that the site was suffering from technical difficulties. The company didn’t respond to a request for comment on Monday.

It’s still not clear whether all of the company’s clients were impacted by the outage, though Inman confirmed that public-facing websites for Realtors from Bend, Oregon, to Ft. Myers, Florida, were still impacted by the problem as of Monday afternoon.

“I don’t have access to any aspect of my business,” said Rachel Ford-Wilkinson, a broker with six team members at her office in Colorado. “They have my entire client database. They have all of my accounting, financials, transactions. All of my data of every single thing that I’ve been communicating with buyers and sellers on.”

“We’re all wondering how we’re going to pay our bills next month,” she added.

Brokers told Inman they were attracted to BoomTown because it offered a diverse set of services that helped them operate their businesses, which made the outage even more impactful.

Many have been adding and maintaining client information for years and entrust BoomTown with storing and maintaining that valuable database.

Rhonda Dunning | JPAR Magnolia Group

“BoomTown holds everything. They hold the key to our business right now,” said Rhonda Dunning, a Realtor in Charleston, South Carolina, where BoomTown was founded. 

Dunning was among several who wondered whether BoomTown suffered an illegal hacking and was being held ransom, though the company has given no indication that this is the case.

“They have access to our financials. We give direct access to our bank accounts,” Dunning said. “If this is ransomware, I’m a little uneasy today.”

Realtors were left to wonder about how many leads could be coming in and finding a website that wasn’t operating properly.

“We’re missing out on potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in commission right now,” Ford-Wilkinson said. “Every lead, every client that needs help, listing alerts. They’re going to go elsewhere.”

Rachel Ford-Wilkinson | Ranger Real Estate

It’s too soon to say how much revenue BoomTown could lose over the ongoing issues, either from clients who leave after this disruption or from money it might offer brokerages as compensation for the disruption.

Inside Real Estate CEO Joe Skousen said in a video update sent to clients on Friday that the company was focused entirely on fixing the problems but that it anticipated giving credits after the issues were solved.

“Rest assured, for all impacted accounts we plan to issue platform credits, and for those accounts spending on digital marketing and lead generation services, we do anticipate issuing additional advertising credits for  you as well,” Skousen said.

Still, it appears the company is thinking about how it can retain customers who already said they were hearing from BoomTown competitors looking to capitalize on the issue by signing them on as clients.

Ford-Wilkinson said her BoomTown account executive told her the company planned to enforce its 12-month contracts with clients, and hers runs through December. 

“I am moving on. I have someone else that’s starting a new website for me,” she said. “BoomTown’s claiming they’re not going to let me out of their contract. I know how contracts work; if one side doesn’t hold up their side of the contract, the contract is void.”

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