Category Archives: Management

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.]

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Brokerage, Value, Stewardship

I’ve been incredibly busy with client work and with the excitement that is Neighborhood Advocates, so blogging has been light. Who am I kidding — blogging has been nonexistent. But I was at RETSO last week when one of the panel discussions really struck me. Since I also have an upcoming presentation about brokerages, it all fit in. So I’m writing this in order to figure out what I think about the issue… as I generally don’t know what I think about something until I’ve read what I’ve written.

The general question is around brokerage value. So much of the discussion in the industry — whether about syndication, brokerage AVM, whatever — has at its roots the problem of brokerage value. Advances in technology = loss of brokerage value to the agent. Changes in business model = loss of brokerage value to the agent.

So what can be done about it?

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Parsing NAR’s Organizational Realignment PAG Report: Part 1

 

A reader sent me a copy of the official report from NAR’s Organizational Realignment Presidential Advisory Group, and asked for my thoughts on it. This particular document and associated initiatives have been generating quite a bit of conversation, as one might expect. I heard about the main points at the AEI Meetings in Baltimore, but not having the details, I didn’t want to comment.

Now that I have some of the details, I’m not sure I want to comment. :) It’s a big document, for a big strategic initiative that may change the world of Organized Real Estate forever. I’m still digesting parts of it. I have embedded it via Slideshare above for your reference.

Having said that, of course, offering opinions worth exactly what you paid for them is par for the course for this here blog. At a minimum, I could ask some questions. So, let me try to parse through some of this, in parts.

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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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