Author Archives: Rob Hahn

Placester Raises Dough, Takes Aim at Zillow and Trulia

placester_logo

My friend Seth Price, aka, Best Dressed Man in Real Estate, works for a startup called Placester. Many of you know the company, as it makes IDX websites for brokers and agents. High quality design templates and custom websites is Placester’s game. Or rather it was Placester’s game.

This morning, Placester announced that it had raised an additional $5.5M in funding. That news by itself isn’t something I’d normally write about, but there is an interesting angle here.

News release and thoughts after the jump.

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An Interesting Take on Zillow

Barbara Gray, Brady Capital Research

Barbara Gray, Brady Capital Research

Consider this a Easter present to my readers. Sort of like a colorful egg, hidden amidst thorns and brambles of Gen-Y DOOOOOOM that I get into sometimes.

Barbara Gray is one of those friends one makes on the Internet in the 21st century. That is, I’ve never met her in person, and with whom I haven’t yet gotten drunk  – I know because there is no recollection of belting out More Than A Feeling at a karaoke with her. But we have had a number of really interesting conversations about the real estate industry over the past several months.

One reason I enjoy talking to her is that she’s looking at the industry from an outsider’s point of view. You see, Barbara is an equity analyst and the founder of Brady Capital Research based in Canada, and she has been following Zillow for some time. She has a take on Zillow that I think is interesting and more-or-less unique.

Well, she’s finally published her report on Zillow, and I thought those of you interested in one person’s take (to be fair, a very heavily researched and educated take) might want to check it out. So, make the jump for the Executive Summary, and a link to her site where you can download the full report. [EDIT: Barbara just emailed me saying there's no way to download the report from her site, but that if you email her at barb@bradycap.com, she'll send you a copy in PDF at no charge.]

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Brokerages and Customer Service: Show Me the Money

T3-photo

Some of the most powerful men and women in real estate at T3 Summit.

This will be brief, as I am in Las Vegas and both the dinner reservation and the craps table are calling me. But if I don’t write this now, I’m afraid it’ll never see the light of day.

At Stefan Swanepoel’s T3 Summit event that just finished yesterday (a wonderful couple of days of really high-level conversations), I got up to ask a question to a panel discussing consumer experience. The panelists were Grier Allen of Boomtown, Austin Allison of Dotloop, Steve Berkowitz of Move, Lawrence Flick of BHHS Fox & Roach, Steve Ozonian of Carrington, and Phil Soper of Royal LePage. In other words, heavy hitters, big time decision makers at big time companies. Of course, in the audience were CEO’s of practically every major franchise company and numerous bigtime brokerages.

The panel ran out of time before I could ask the question, but… it so happens that I write a blog that many of the people I want to reach read… so…

The issue the panelists were discussing was the importance of delivering consummate consumer experience, coupled to the difficulty of having a group of independent contractors deliver that awesome customer service experience. There was much talk of technology platforms that can help, training that can be delivered to these independent agents, etc. and so on.

My question was, and is, this:

For the brokerage leaders on the panel, I understand the difficulty of trying to get your agents to do anything, whether undergoing training or implementing customer service technology platforms. But here’s what I’m curious about. Are your office managers compensated on the basis of customer service, or on the basis of recruiting and driving affiliated business leads?

Because if it’s the latter… what the hell are we talking about here?

This is obviously a rhetorical question. So here’s what I’d like to recommend to every brokerage CEO, every brand President, and every person in a position of leadership in a real estate organization who wants to talk the talk about customer service.

Show me the money — bonus your office managers based on customer service.

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Association, MLS, RPAC: An Idea for Political Domination

Tywin_Lannister_2

Tywin Lannister, Chair of Casterly Rock Association of REALTORS

File this one under: “There Is No Box” kind of thinking. The reason why this isn’t a Black Paper (yet) is that I haven’t checked with enough lawyers to see all of the possible pitfalls, but that might happen sooner rather than later.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was having an email exchange with a couple of lawyers from NAR’s Legal team that was sending electric tingles of excitement down my legs. The reason is that so far, on a preliminary basis, while requiring further research, and a dozen other caveats — very typical for smart lawyers, since one never knows for sure until the Supreme Court rules, and even then, things can be overturned and so on and so forth — it appears that it’s possible to….

Okay, just in case you haven’t had enough of the caveats and maybes and warnings, let’s say that you should check with your own legal counsel in your state. But here’s the rough outline.

It appears that it is perfectly legal under federal law for the Association of REALTORS to transfer its ownership in the MLS to the PAC. The result would be total domination at the local and probably state levels in terms of political contributions.

Say what? Let’s delve in.

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Will CLAW Be the Waterloo for Anti-Syndication Forces?

La Battaile de Waterloo

La Battaile de Waterloo

[This post was written to be posted almost a month ago, when the Errol Samuelson news broke, wiping the media calendar clean. And then I went on the road. Nonetheless, the issues raised here and the access to Zillow and to Annie Ives are important enough and I think still relevant, so I figured I'd post it. Even if a bit later than I had hoped.] 

The CLAW/TheMLS 48-hour delay saga enters a new chapter, as I have some new data and some new information in my possession. For those not familiar with what’s going on, this Inman story by Andrea Brambila is an excellent place to start. And of course, I’ve already written about the tension between CLAW and CRMLS.

I have been working on trying to get a bit more information on some facts surrounding the brouhaha, and I managed to get a senior Zillow executive on the phone to get their side of the story. What I’ve learned makes me re-evaluate l’affaire de CLAW in a new light. This might be a seminal event in the evolution of real estate, a Waterloo for the anti-syndication forces within the MLS industry.

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