Book Review: Disruptors, Discounters, and Doubters


I know Joe Rand, the Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty. I think he’s one of the smartest guys in the industry, and one of the nicest. I can’t go quite as far as to say he’s a friend, simply because we haven’t gone and done drunken karaoke together, but I respect the man a great deal. Maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll do that drunken karaoke together soon and I can count him as one of my friends in the industry. I would like that.

The fact that he wrote a new book on the industry called Disruptors, Discounters, and Doubters only increases that respect. And he was nice enough to send me a copy, which I received yesterday… and devoured in one sitting. I figured, and I assumed he’d figured, I should review it and comment.

First thing I’ll say is that you should go order a copy. Especially if you’re in brokerage management or a strategy role in the residential real estate industry. And I say that despite the fact that in the long list of “brilliant advisors and consultants” he names in the “Who is the Industry?” section, yours truly does not appear. Well, despite my lack of brilliance, I endorse this book wholeheartedly.

For those with short attention spans… TL;DR version:

Joe identifies all of the problems, and I love some of his prescribed solutions because of confirmation bias: they’re many of the exact same solutions I’ve been advocating for years. So I’m inclined to stand up and cheer. But, he ascribes the wrong fundamental reason for the problems (the “original sin”), tries too hard to defend the status quo, and ends up recommending a confused and contradictory set of solutions that ultimately fall short.

Let’s get into it.

Why Did the MLS Lose Its Technology Leadership?


A week ago, the California Association of REALTORS held a very interesting panel discussion on the MLS, and live-streamed it. I hope I’m embedding this correctly below.

Seriously, watch the whole thing if you haven’t already. It’s really good.

I’m sure there are other things to talk about from this panel, but for now, I want to highlight one issue that Joel Singer, CEO of CAR, brought up.

Then I want to ask a question and get your answers and thoughts.

[FREB] Thoughts On Commission Splits


As many of you already know, we officially published our Black Paper on the Future of Real Estate Brokerage on Friday. The response has been gratifying, to say the least.

But in an effort to keep the Black Paper an actual paper, instead of a paperback book, we (that is, Sunny) cut a lot of words out. They should have been cut out, of course, but the nice thing about having a website is having the ability to expand and expound on some concepts that aren’t as central to our thesis, but are useful and interesting to discuss.

So the [FREB] tag — Future of Real Estate Brokerage. I plan on using this to talk about ideas and concepts from the Black Paper and expand on them.

First up is one of the most important issues, as it came up time and time again during the research, feedback, and initial discussions of our idea: commission splits. We understand that it’s difficult for many experienced brokers to wrap their minds around the whole 7DS Firm model. It’s such a different way of looking at things. And this is the topic where we’ve seen it the most.

Let’s get into it.

The Future of Brokerage Black Paper, Now Available


So in advance of Friday, which is when I figure most people might have time to read something like this, I wanted to let everybody know that the Future of Brokerage Black Paper is now available.

Some of you who requested a copy received it by email a week ago (check your filters if you haven’t seen it). But I thought, hey, why not… this is the best informed audience in real estate… I’m probably going to start writing more on this topic so might as well set the groundwork.

Without further ado, here it is:

You can download the PDF right from Scribd.

Like I said, I’ll be writing more on this topic in the future, but most of the foundations are in this Black Paper. Feel free to comment and give us your thoughts here.

Thanks, and happy Thursday!




Beyond Semantics: A Response to Clint Skutchan


Over the weekend, Inman published an op/ed by Clint Skutchan, an experienced former Association/MLS executive and strategy consultant, who took issue with my Remember Who You Are post. I happen to love it when people take issue with my posts, because it means we’re engaging in debate and discussion.

Plus, Clint is a great guy, one of the crop of younger leaders in the industry, who is intelligent, thoughtful and experienced. Accordingly, I extended and he accepted an invite to guest post on Notorious. So he cross-posted his Inman op/ed here. There are some small editing differences, but they’re the same column. I’m going to use his version here on Notorious for a response.

Basically, while I appreciate what Clint is trying to say, he makes a few bad assumptions which are not backed up by evidence, and ignores the giant hole in his logic in trying to say it. Let’s get into it.

Grading Time! The 2017 Predictions


Welcome to another edition of an annual tradition, in which I go back and grade myself on my predictions made at the start of this year. (Link goes to Inman.)

For those keeping track at home, my record so far:

  • 2010 Predictions: 6 for 10 (.600)
  • 2011 Predictions: 4.5 for 7 (.642)
  • 2012 Predictions: 2 for 7 (.286)
  • 2013 Predictions: 4.5 for 7 (.642)
  • 2014 Predictions: 3 for 7 (.429)
  • 2015 Predictions: 2.5 for 7 (.357)
  • 2016 Predictions: 1 for 7 (.143)

If it looks like I’m unable to repeat my rookie season, well, I would hardly be the first person to have a breakout rookie year and then crash and burn now would I? Besides, with predictions sure to be wrong, or your money back, one could argue I’m actually improving.

However you see it, let’s go ahead and see how I did for 2017.

National Association FOR REALTORS® or National ASSOCIATION OF Realtors®?


I super appreciate how Rob’s mind works, but his interpretation included in the Remember Who You Are blog on Bob Goldberg’s statement during his CEO report at the N.A.R. Board of Directors meeting in November is completely inside out, so wrote the following rebuttal for Inman.


Goldberg said, “First and foremost, it’s imperative that we are not just the National Association OF REALTORS®, we are also the National Association FOR REALTORS®. Every action we take is geared to making sure our members come first.”

This is Rob’s interpretation, “FOR REALTORS® represents a complete departure from the origins of the REALTOR® Movement and strips organized real estate of nobility and high purpose”. He went on to add that a FOR organization philosophy shift would reduce N.A.R. to the equivalent of a union, “which is concerned only with the wages and working conditions of its dues-paying members”.

The Top Seven Posts of 2017


It’s New Year’s Eve, 2017. The champagne is chilling, dinner reservation has been made, and it’s quiet around here. Rare thing, this quiet.

In any event, on this last day of 2017 — a year filled with changes, both good and bad and in-between — I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at the top seven posts from Notorious ROB.

These seven were the most popular by traffic during the past 12 months, so I had nothing to do with selecting them: YOU did.

It seems clear that y’all were all kinds of interested in Redfin and its IPO, because three of the seven most trafficked posts were about that. Bob Goldberg’s appointment as the new CEO of NAR also drew a ton of interest, and Zillow-related rounds out the top seven posts. Not surprising, really.

I know most of you have already read these, but hey, it’s a Throwback Thur- er… Sunday!

Happy New Year, everybody! May 2018 be the best year of your life!

The Seven Most Interesting People in Real Estate, 2017 Edition


So I’ve decided to add to my end-of-the-year workload by starting something new this year. I call it the Interesting List, and there are seven people — a number that is sacred to me as well as many of the world’s oldest religions — on it. Hence, The Seven Most Interesting People in Real Estate. SMIPRE kinda sounds like (American) Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper, so I guess I’m into it.

Now, Inman does the Influencers list, Swanepoel does the Power 200 list (I help out on that list), and both are far more respected and important than this short list of mine for a bunch of reasons.

Inman Influencers are “industry professionals who shape, change, and influence the industry.” Swanepoel’s SP200 takes over 600 hours of work (I can attest to that personally) and is the definitive guide to the most powerful individuals in real estate.

The Notorious R.O.B. Interesting List is neither of those things, although there are obvious overlaps because influence and power are interesting. It is simply a list of people (and companies) I find interesting for a variety of reasons. They may or may not be influential, may or may not be powerful, and in fact, you may or may not have heard of them at all. But I find them interesting, and that’s enough.

To prepare this list, the Committee (that would be Sunny and me) spent almost 600 hours (less 596) of grueling debate and analysis, using a proprietary analysis technique with the working title, “What does Sunny think of my crazy suggestions?” Bottles of wine may or may not have been consumed in putting this list together.

Without further ado, then, Notorious ROB presents, The Seven Most Interesting People in Real Estate in 2017.

It’s A Molehill! Until It’s Not… A Response to Sam Debord

Mountain From a Molehill

I don’t know about you, but I love having Sam Debord as a regular guest on Notorious. Because we often disagree, but unlike our national politics, people can disagree while still being friends.

The latest example of such disagreement comes from Sam’s recent post, Triumph and the Molehill of Non-Realtor MLS Choice. Read the whole thing if you haven’t already.

For the most part, I agree with Sam’s analysis. I said as much in the original post. Where we differ, I think, is in prognosticating the future, which is admittedly, a losing proposition for me since I’m the one contemplating a future different from today. If you’re a betting man, bet on inertia. While past performance is no guarantee of the future, it’s more likely than not.

But there is something important to be teased out here, so I wanted to respond and highlight that importance.

TL;DR: Change is seldom gradual. It’s sudden, ignored and pooh-poohed, until it happens, catching the incumbents by surprise.

Let’s do it.