For investors interested in the most unique plays on the burgeoning housing market, the name SearchCore, Inc. (SRER) is one name that deserves attention.
Indeed, the internet marketing services company has already demonstrated its ability to monetize its signature finder-site model with the successful debut earlier in the year of Tattoo.com. By all appearances, the site is quickly on the path to becoming the premiere virtual hub for artists, retailers and consumers of body art throughout the country; five months after its debut, the site boasted of 500 paying subscribers, leading the investment firm Merriman Capital to initiate coverage on SearchCore’s stock with a rating of “buy.”
But one success is not enough for a company whose five-year plan is directed towards the goal of building and monetizing several dozen finder-sites; in early September SearchCore went online with its newest venture, ManufacturedHomes.com. ManufacturedHomes.com provides both a hyper local finder site, rich with content and images, plus a CRM system for the dealers and factors in the industry.
The timing of this move couldn’t be better. The US housing market has been one of the few areas of the economy that has shown consistent growth throughout the course of 2013, and the manufactured housing market stands to gain as a result. Real estate investment firm Marcus & Millichap seems to agree. The firm’s research division just released its National Report for the second half of the year that highlights increased activity in the manufactured housing space resulting from a number of factors.
Prospective homeowners have been finding it easier to secure financing for manufactured housing from local banks and manufacturers, especially in the form of lease-to-own arrangements, a phenomenon that can be explained by the general increase in both first-time home buyers, and retiring baby-boomers seeking second homes.
So does the nascent “shale boom” that has gripped the US over the last few years. One of the most salient effects of this has been sudden and unexpected job growth in metropolitan areas located in close proximity to the nation’s many shale deposits, in places such as Ohio, Texas, and North Dakota, that has led to housing shortages and greater demand for quick solutions.
Marcus & Millichap cite these and other reasons to explain 2013’s year-over-year increase in shipments of manufactured homes, and furthermore project that the trend will continue as the housing market gradually continues to strengthen, bring prices along with it.
It is in this context that SearchCore has introduced the ManufacturedHomes.com finder-site, a singular and indispensable resource, as well as an ideal point of connection for all of those with a stake in the industry. We checked in with SearchCore CEO Jim Pakulis for details about the site’s exclusive features, as well as the prospect that ManufacturedHomes.com could be the company’s most promising offering yet.
EQ: According to real estate firm Marcus & Millichap, demand for manufactured homes is soaring throughout the U.S. SearchCore operates ManufacturedHomes.com, one of the most promising of the company's finder-site properties. Have you noticed the same kind of demand in this market segment?
Pakulis: We’re starting to. We are seeing an increase of inquiries from individuals considering entering this market as buyers. And we’re starting to see increased activity from the production side. As an example, from a manufacturing position, a retired and respected industry veteran with a history of building high-quality homes reentered the industry. He acquired a previously closed manufacturing facility in Nebraska to capitalize on this recent surge.
EQ: As more and more buyers enter the market, finding quality opportunities and value for manufactured homes becomes significantly more difficult. How does ManufacturedHomes.com help position SearchCore to capitalize on that?
Pakulis: Increased consumer interest directly affects online searches, which in turn increases traffic and conversion for retailers from our site. If this trend continues, it will have a direct and demonstrable correlation on overall company revenue.
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