Category Archives: Management

On NRT’s New HomesForSale.com (Which Most Folks Are Misunderstanding)

Making Sense I know some folks think I’m a Realogy homer. Well, given that’s where I got my start in the industry, maybe I’m a little bit guilty of that whole “cut me and I bleed blue” thing. But I think I’m actually calling things as I see them; I’ve been plenty critical of Realogy when they’ve done something deserving of criticism, and I’m complimentary when they’ve done something right.

The newest Realogy initiative that’s making waves is HomesForSale.com, a “national” portal for the NRT, Realogy’s company-owned brokerage operations. I mentioned it and some screenshots yesterday, when I was really talking about some issues that the MLS probably needs to address. Since then I’ve seen all sorts of discussion about HomesForSale, about NRT, etc. etc. both publicly and privately.

Almost all of the commentary thus far has been negative. The main thrust of such criticism is something like this:

If this is the best that Realogy can do to compete against Zillow and Trulia and Realtor.com, it’s farcical. There’s nothing innovative or new here, and the site isn’t even mobile responsive, and the color scheme sucks too!

Or something along those lines.

Thing is, I think this line of criticism is almost wholly unwarranted, because it is based on a misunderstanding of the strategy behind HomesForSale. I actually think HomesForSale is a nice move, one that could fail of course like any initiative, but it’s solidly grounded in strategy.

Let’s get into it.

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Tell Me Again How the MLS is the “Gold Standard” of Data Accuracy?

Homes_For_Sale__Real_Estate_Listings____MLS_Search___HomesForSale_com

I’ll have some thoughts on Realogy/NRT’s new HomesForSale.com later, but I couldn’t resist this brief observation.

I kinda knew the problem existed, but until this splashy website came along, we did not have the visual impact/evidence. If HomesForSale.com accomplishes nothing else, it really ought to wake up the industry (particularly the MLS) about the problem with data in the MLS.

Let me explain, with pictures.

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Who’s Down With BPP? Yeah You Know Me!

I figured that my post on the Broker Public Portal would create some conversation, and I didn’t figure wrong.

Brian Boero of 1000Watt discussed the BPP on their “Friday Flash” email newsletter, saying:

If you want to know all the reasons why a broker-controlled national listing site might not work, read this post from Rob Hahn. I don’t share his bleak perspective on this project, but I do admire his deep exploration of the matter.

And Drew Meyers over at GeekEstate wrote a post which was then copyright-violated across the Interwebz, saying:

As you can tell, I’m a skeptic. Brian at 1000Watt penned some thoughts on the broker portal project today as well. His were not as bleak as the opinion of Rob’s and mine. If someone involved wants to hear my thoughts on how to actually make this work, send me an email.

Thanks for the mention and the links, fellas, but um, let me correct the record in one small respect. I’m not bleak about the BPP. Nor did I post all of the reasons why the BPP wouldn’t work. I wrote one concrete suggestion (“buy, don’t build”) and two concerns based on my knowledge and experience of the organizational side of the industry.

Those concerns, which are almost entirely about governance and ownership issues, turn out to be on point with people directly involved with the BPP project. I’ve heard from enough of them to know they agree that governance and ownership are two difficult thorny issues they need to work through.

IF ownership issues can be resolved, IF clear mission objectives can be established, and IF the governance issues are handled… then now is a great time for BPP. Move is now a small part of a global media behemoth. The FTC approved Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia; the deal will close next week. Now would be a great time for a serious competitor to Zillow and News Corp to emerge.

For the record, I think I’m probably closer to Brian’s side of the Bleakness Divide than to Drew’s side, since I totally understand why the brokerages want to make Fair Display Guidelines the norm. But I don’t see my role as an advisor and industry observer to act as a cheerleader blowing sunshine up the valley of darkness.

Having said that, there are a couple of interesting things from both Brian’s post and from Drew’s post that are worth discussing further. Let’s get into it.

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Musings On Direct Feeds

Direct-Feed-Skills-Mix

In the aftermath of the Listhub-Zillow divorce, which was my last post, I stumbled on a comment from the famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) Kipp Cooper and the main man at his vendor, Turan Tekin. [Disclosure: I’m friends with both men, like them both, have shared adult beverages with them, and my bias may bleed through here.]

Kipp is the CEO of ValleyMLS (or North Alabama MLS), which was the first and possibly only MLS so far to cut off Listhub and Realtor.com last year for a while. Turan is the VP of Bridge Interactive, the vendor that Kipp used to put his MLS Direct Feed into place.

The relevant comments from a Facebook thread is as follows:

Kipp-Turan

Now, what struck me as I was reading those comments — especially Turan’s — is the presence of some unexamined assumptions. I think it’d be fun and worthwhile to lay them bare and look at them.

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Seven Predictions for 2015: The Nouvelle Vague Edition

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Welcome, faithful readers to an annual tradition here at Notorious ROB: making predictions for the coming year that are Guaranteed to be Wrong, or Your Money Back!

The musical pairings for this edition comes from the extraordinary and extraordinarily unique French cover band, Nouvelle Vague. I mean, who else does remakes of 80’s new wave hits with a vaguely self-aware melancholy infused with a 60’s bossa nova vibe? Yep, the French, that’s who.

Let’s get into it.

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