ValueAppeal CEO Charlie Walsh made the tough decision to shut down the service earlier this year, saying the economics of helping homeowners challenge their tax bills for as little as $99 just didn’t work out.
“There is only a thin slice of homeowners that are overassessed, about 20 percent of homes,” says Walsh. “And at the same time there is only a 30 to 60 day window in which you are allowed to file an appeal, so that presented a marketing challenge.”
In order to solve that challenge, ValueAppeal turned to direct mail. “To make money at $99 a pop acquiring customers through direct mail — you have to be pretty good at direct mail,” said Walsh, adding that they started layering on all sorts of demographic data about who was most likely to respond to direct mail campaigns and from that who was most likely to file a tax appeal.
“Over the course of a few years, we got really good at predicting who would respond to our direct mail,” said Walsh, describing the data as a “crystal ball.” Late last year, Walsh started kicking around new ideas, thinking about ways they could predict which homes would be most likely to sell, refinance or foreclose in a certain geographic area.
Well, that’s a bummer for homeowners. ValueAppeal was a great service, but given the small niche market they served and the timing issues discussed in the article, it’s not surprising that they decided to pivot into a business with a much larger potential for growth.
Instead of trying to help homeowners figure out if their tax bills are too high, MostLikely is attempting to help real estate professionals develop leads through predictive intelligence…
Walsh admits that the “pain point” still very much exists for home owners trying to appeal property taxes, but he said the company could not afford to service those customers while going in the new direction.
That “new direction” is marketing subscription services for real estate agents, based on predictive analytics. While it’s certainly a business that sounds like an interesting and fun challenge, it’s still sad to see a valuable service for homeowners fall by the wayside.