Category Archives: Politics & Regulation

Seven Predictions for 2014: Power Ballads Edition


You realize these fashions WILL be coming back, right?

I wanted to get to this before 2014 dawned, of course, but… it was more fun to hang out with my boys. And by that I don’t mean my posse of secret real estate pundits, but my actual biological progeny.

In any event, it’s customary here at Notorious to make predictions that are sure to go wrong, or your money back! 2014 should be no different in that regard.

This year’s musical selection comes to us from the days of my youth. I never imagined that we would one day have an entire satellite radio channel devoted to hair metal but… what a wonderful world this is indeed! For those of my friends attending Inman Connect in NYC, I heartily recommend stretching your vocal chords with these selections at karaoke. :) Continue reading

Grading Time! Reviewing My 2013 Predictions

Derek Jeter

Is it time for this Hall of Fame career to come to an end?

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. My track record so far:

  • 2010 Predictions: 6 of 10 (.600)
  • 2011 Predictions: 4.5 of 7 (.642)
  • 2012 Predictions: 2 for 7 (.286)

As ever, I hope to be wrong most of the time, since my predictions tend to be a bit of a downer. But let’s see how I did in 2013.

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A Few Thoughts On The Zillow Housing Forum


Two weeks ago, Zillow organized a small event in Washington DC with the title “Getting Our House In Order: Solving the Lingering Issues of the Housing Recession”. The full program was filmed and is available here. If you’re pressed for time, you can get the highlights here. I was on an airplane to California then, so could not attend. Not that I’d have flown to DC on a moment’s notice in any event, but… of all of the industry related events this year, this was the one I most would have liked to have gone to.

For once, a real estate industry event where “social media” wasn’t a panel topic? Sign me up, Scottie.

There have been more than a few people who noticed, not the least of which is the Washington Post, but… because the Post is general media, there are a few things here that are getting missed. Or, more accurately, few people are as oddly obsessed about Big Picture Industry Prognostication — all predictions sure to be wrong, or your money back — than I am, so… I haven’t seen much higher level thought on the Forum or the topics.

Let me offer a few thoughts. Because from where I sit, the Zillow Forum was extraordinary for a variety of reasons. Those interested in big picture trends in the industry ought to think about these things, in at least a cursory way.

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Law of Unintended Consequences: The ACTRIS Version


The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.

- Library of Economics & Liberty

I’m in St. Paul, MN, where the sun has conspired with the river to create a hundred gorgeous pleasures. Like conversing with new and old friends sitting on bar patios with 2 Gingers irish whiskey.

As one might imagine, The Realty Alliance and CMLS were both on all our minds. I’ve written a lengthy post on the topic, and Notorious B.O.B. Bemis has been absolutely crushing it with his series of posts. (Check this, and this.)

But CMLS 2013 had some other news as well, which we all would be buzzing about had it not been for the TRA bombshell. One of them is this:

The Austin Board of Realtors has decided that its more than 9,000 members can choose to syndicate their listings to third-party websites, but it will no longer help them do it.

On Sept. 30, the trade group’s board of directors voted to end ABoR’s agreement with listing syndicator ListHub, citing concerns about unethical business practices and inaccurate listing data on consumer websites not affiliated with a Realtor trade group.

Read the whole thing on Inman; Andrea Brambila has done a great job of covering the story. But this move concerns me, because of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Let’s get into it.

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Be Careful What You Wish For: The MLS As Public Utility

This post, like every post in the month of October, is brought to you by our sponsor, (and its subsidiary 2Elm), the winner of the Ebay Auction for sponsorship of this blog for October.

Please please please let me, let me, let me... get what I want this time.

Please please please let me, let me, let me… get what I want this time.

I’m at the CMLS 2013 meetings, and thought I’d post some further thoughts about a discussion/debate I had on Twitter (#cmls2013) about something I’m hearing quite a lot about at this event.

There’s just a ton of conversation on panels and on stage and in the hallways about data, about “our data”, about monetizing it, protecting it, leveraging it, etc. etc. with a heavy emphasis on just how valuable and important the MLS data is to homebuyers, home sellers, investors, renters, to Wall Street, and to other users of real estate information. One of the panels featured Chip McAvoy from CoreLogic and Dale Ross from RPR, companies that sell to Wall Street type of firms — especially a product called “match and append“.

My point from my panel — that I regard this focus on consumers by the MLS as dangerous, and that the MLS should focus on its core competency, that of regulating the relationship between real estate professionals with the key mechanism of cooperation and compensation — is something that needs expanding.

Plainly put, what I fear is that on the current path, the MLS is extremely vulnerable to being classified as a public utility and being regulated directly by the government. Those MLS’s that are super-excited about becoming the trusted source for data to consumers — including CMLS, which is pushing its SourceMLS program — should pause and consider what it is that they’re wishing for. Because they might get it. Good and hard.

Let’s get into it.

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