The Broker in the Internet Age

On the comments to my post about Zillow-Dotloop last week, this happened:


My readers — the smartest, best informed readers in the real estate industry! I told Leslie that the answer was a post in and of itself, but as it happens, I’m heading out to California next week to talk about this precise topic with a bunch of brokers. I figured it doesn’t hurt to put some words and thoughts down on digital ink to sharpen up the concept.

So if you’re a broker, manager, or even an agent particularly concerned about Zillow, about Dotloop, about all this technology stuff happening so fast, and you’re wondering, what the value of the broker is… read on. If not, have a very nice day. :)

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Zillow Acquires Dotloop – I Chat With Errol and Austin, and Have Initial Thoughts

Earlier today, Zillow announced it was acquiring dotLoop, the popular real estate transaction management platform company. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The press release is here:

Zillow Group (NASDAQ:Z), which houses a portfolio of the largest and most vibrant real estate and home-related brands on mobile and Web, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to buy DotLoop, a Cincinnati-based company that simplifies real estate transactions by enabling brokerages, real estate agents, and their clients to share, edit, sign and store documents digitally. The transaction is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2015.

Over the next 48-72 hours, you may expect to see the traditional industry freakout that happens whenever Zillow does anything. Expect everything from predictions of doom for Zillow, doom for brokers, doom for dotLoop, doom for everything and everybody under the sun.

Now, I do think the acquisition is interesting on a whole lot of levels. But I haven’t thought through all of those yet, and the deal is merely announced, rather than closed. So details are thin on the ground.

I did just get off a conference call with Errol Samuelson, Chief Industry Development Officer of Zillow Group, and Austin Allison, CEO of dotLoop where we chatted about the deal at a high level. I figured I should relate that conversation, and then maybe do my think-out-loud deal at the end as a bonus.

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How Many REALTORS Actually Support NAR’s Policies?


This is (hopefully) a brief post, inspired and triggered by something I saw on Facebook today. My friend Lisa Heindel, a broker in New Orleans, wrote up a post dealing with’s partnership with AirBnB. It appears that a number of people in NOLA are not particularly happy with AirBnB, and Lisa isn’t too thrilled at the partnership:

For the official site of the National Association of REALTORS® to advocate in favor of what is essentially an illegal enterprise in our city is disheartening and we don’t believe it’s an appropriate relationship. [Emphasis in original]

Read the whole post; it’s interesting on a lot of levels.

Plus, another REALTOR on the Facebook thread made this comment:

Between this and services like Uber taking business away from legitimate, licensed taxi providers, this does not bode well for the long term and for the people who need to live (and make a living) in these areas long term. Greed and missing the forest for the trees = bad combination.

And I agree… should NOT be partnering with a program that encourages illegal activity …most municipalities I would think have definite rules and zoning regulations for what is essentially a hotel service.

The level I find most interesting is that Lisa, a dedicated REALTOR, whom I’ve met at NAR events, believes that NOLA’s regulation of short-term rentals is A-OK.

So, here’s what I’m wondering about now. Just what percentage of card-carrying, dues-paying, pin-wearing REALTORS actually agree with the policy positions of the National Association of REALTORS (and its state and local affiliate REALTOR organizations)?

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MLS Conversions and Zillow Hate


I’ve been engaged on a project that is both interesting and important for a large regional MLS the last couple of months. As part of that project, I’ve spoken to dozens of people — brokers, agents, Association leadership, MLS leadership, etc. — about a variety of topics, which has been, to quote Tony the Tiger, grrrrreat!

One of the side benefits is that I hear about people’s concerns, and one of those got me thinking. Here’s my thesis:

MLS conversion angst and Zillow hate both come from the same place.

Say what? Let’s dive in.

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Is the U.S. Model Defensible vs. the UK Model?


I’ve been traveling almost every day for three weeks, so I know blogging has been very light. The projects I’m involved in now are fun as hell, hard as hell, and important as hell, so they kind of fit all my criteria for good stuff. But in any event, I thought I’d spend a few minutes to look at something that piqued my interest.

Over on Facebook, I got into a random conversation about eMoov, a UK “online real estate company” that’s getting some traction. Obviously, there are huge differences between the US model and the UK model, but I thought what eMoov was doing was interesting. And then it got even more interesting when my friend Jon Sterling, who is now with Keller Williams in London, posted a link to a fantastic post comparing the two. Read the whole thing.

Something in there got me super interested, in terms of defending the U.S. model against a very particular sort of criticism. Let’s dive into it.

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