Author Archives: Rob Hahn

Opendoor.com and the Power of Radical Questions

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine in the commercial real estate space asked me about Opendoor.com. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I went over to look at what that’s about. Well, this is what the website looks like right now:

opendoor

Hm. “The easiest way to sell your home”? Receive an instant offer online and close in 3 days? What the hell???

Then I looked into them a bit more, and spoke with a friend at Inman (where I am this week) who is in the know and connected to the venture world more than I am. You know, despite the fact that the real estate industry will be talking about Zillow’s acquisition of Retsly (as we should), because Zillow drives all conversations in real estate these days, I actually think that Opendoor.com might be the story of 2014. Might.

Since it hasn’t launched, no one really knows what’s what. But what Opendoor.com says to me is that strange and magical things happen when you ask the really radical questions. There is so much power in asking Why Not? and Why Must Things Be This Way?

In an industry where every little thing is marketed as a “game changer” and a slight twist on the decades-old home search process is lauded as “disruptive”, Opendoor.com shows us what real disruption looks like, and how it begins.

Continue reading

Clareity Goes Back to the Future Beyond Syndication

Back To the Future

“Marty! I went back in time before Listhub! It was amazing!”

My friends at Clareity, Gregg Larsen and Matt Cohen, have just released a white paper they co-authored titled Beyond Syndication that is worth reading in full if you’re interested in this sort of thing. They include an overview of where things stand today, and then make a recommendation or two. Despite the fact that I declare Syndication dead as an issue a couple of years ago, it’s like a zombie that refuses to go away, so I have to write on it to see what I think about it.

At the same time, I think this white paper is significant in that it strikes a different tone in some respects, and perhaps we can consider it a step forward in putting the syndication issue to bed once and for all.

Having said all that… I was expecting something a bit more… ah… dramatic given the title. I suppose the role of the dramatic overstatement and questions no one wants to ask is mine and mine alone. :)

So let’s get into it.

Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Move & NAR v. Zillow & Samuelson

JudgeDredd

The judge in the non-compete-disguised-as-a-trade-secrets case between Move & NAR v. Zillow & Errol Samuelson has issued a preliminary injunction that looks like a big win for REALTORS and REALTOR-lookalikes. Inman News has the story, and the actual order itself (PDF).

As a an interested bystander, the whole thing is sort of sad. Wish my friends would stop fighting and find ways to coexist. But hey, it’s easy for me to play John Lennon and Imagine a world like that. I’m certain it feels way different for the principals involved.

Some further thoughts and questions follow, as the order was heavily redacted. I assume the reason was to protect the very trade secrets that Move & NAR claim Zillow stole/attempting to steal from them. Nonetheless, there’s quite a lot in the order. We discuss them, after the jump.

[Disclosure: I have a business relationship with Trulia, who is obviously a competitor to both Move and Zillow.]

Continue reading

NAR General Counsel Warns About Dangers of Failing to Syndicate

Katie Johnson

Katie Johnson, General Counsel of NAR

In case you haven’t seen this yet, Katie Johnson, the General Counsel of NAR, has written an article that comes as close to a formal legal opinion on dangers of failing to syndicate listings.

Well, actually, she warns about the practice of pre-marketing, also known as “Coming Soon” but the logic that she uses applies with full force to the practice of not syndicating listings to major portals.

The full article is here.

Since I’ve had fun with Sam DeBord’s Inman article in the past in which I draw parallels between “pocket listings” and syndication, I find the paragraph below super interesting:

For most sellers, getting the highest possible price on the best terms is their “best interest,” and maximizing exposure of their property to potential buyers advances that interest…. Restricting the marketing of a seller’s property to only small networks, private clubs, or even to national websites without also making it available to other area brokers and agents and their buyer-clients through the MLS results in the property not being exposed to the widest group of potential willing and able buyers, and may not provide the seller the best opportunity to attract offers at the highest price. [Emphasis added]

If we take for granted that best interest = highest possible price, and that highest possible price results from maximizing exposure… the above paragraph could be rewritten this way:

For most sellers, getting the highest possible price on the best terms is their “best interest,” and maximizing exposure of their property to potential buyers advances that interest…. Restricting the marketing of a seller’s property to only small networks, private clubs, or even to the MLS without also making it available to national websites with their tens of millions of buyer visitors results in the property not being exposed to the widest group of potential willing and able buyers, and may not provide the seller the best opportunity to attract offers at the highest price. [Emphasis added]

Yes, yes, I know — the MLS is different from national portals, because shut up. Just like how it’s a terrible evil when an agent can pay to be advertised next to a listing about which she knows nothing located in an area 30 miles away she has never worked, but if she pays an IDX vendor to setup a website on which she can put listings about which she knows nothing located in an area 30 miles away she has never worked, why, that’s completely different, because shut up.

But hey, Katie Johnson writes:

It’s important that sellers understand the implications of various ways of marketing the property so that they can knowingly determine the choice that best serves their interests.

Yeah. Well, let’s hope there aren’t any trial lawyers reading this blog who might become super interested in just how much a seller was briefed about the implications of not sending listings to some of the highest trafficked websites in real estate, and knowingly determined the choice that best served his interests.

As an industry, we could continue going down this path, of course, and we’re likely to do that, because… well.. masochism, I guess. Or we might ask why these pre-marketing tactics and private clubs and so on are happening and take a hard look at underlying causes.

Heh, I know. I know.

This Post Is Worth 4 Million Words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I’d submit that a video is worth a million words. Therefore, this post is worth 4 million words, as these four videos tell a tale far more powerfully than your poor scribe ever could.

Make the jump to see for yourself.

Continue reading