USAA, the giant financial services company for military families with 7.4 million members, has partnered with Vast.com, the vertical meta-search and database company, to develop a real estate site to round out its offerings. We see the effort as part of a broader movement of retailers and merchants providing more ancillary services. USAA, itself, kicked off the trend by offering autos via a relationship with Zag.com.
In regards to real estate, USAA has run Movers Advantage for 15 years. It is a service which provides consumers with cash back for allowing them to provide Realtor referrals. But this is the first time that USAA will provide a real estate site with a comprehensive database of for sale and rental listings, along with real estate decision information, such as neighborhood and school information. There will also be an iPhone app.
The current effort has been incubated over the past 13 months. It grew from a relationship between Vast and Cartus, the relocation arm of Realogy, the largest U.S. brokerage conglomerate. To us, it makes a lot of sense, given the high propensity of military families to move. Using the Vast.com database, users can search any place in the country and get information for communities where they may not have any familiarity.