Category Archives: Technology

Two Redfin Veterans Launch a New Brokerage Model…

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Truth be told, I get a ton of press releases and the like announcing some OMGASM! DISRUPTIVE NEW THINGAMABOB!!!BBQ!!11 from one real estate related company or another. I tend to ignore most of them because said AMAZING GAME-CHANGING DISRUPTION turns out to be a slight modification of some CRM platform. “Now you can put your listing on Instagram automatically” isn’t exactly disruptive, no matter how much the marketing folks and PR folks like to dress it up.

I’m making an exception in the case of Surefield, a brand new brokerage in Seattle, for a couple of reasons.

One, the people behind this new brokerage have a track record. The two main founders are David Eraker, the Founder and first CEO of Redfin, and Rob McGarty, who ran operations for Redfin’s brokerage side (and mortgages as well).

Two, Surefield is actually trying something new, which may or may not work, but at least it’s new and potentially disruptive, if it takes off. (I have some questions about the viability, but….)

Three, Surefield itself may or may not be the next big thing, but it seems to me that it is yet another entrant into space that are explicitly seeking to change the way that business is done in real estate. These tech-enabled brokerages are the front-wave of Real Estate 3.0 (yes, yes, I know such Web 3.0, Internet 4.0, and Human 2.0 type of stuff is just marketing-speak for the most part, but I do like the phrase to signify this next generation of attempts) and I think there’s something going on there.

Let’s get into it.

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It’s Time for a Grand Conversation on the MLS

I just got back from NAR New Orleans where I got to see old friends (not enough of y’all, because that event is so f’in huge) and meet some new friends. But I said that I would be watching for some things at the event. Turns out, there wasn’t much to watch. Not a lot of drama at all.

The CoX thing sailed through, but the result is that some workgroup will write up something. So we’ll wait to see what they come up with. The MLS stuff, with its very broad, general language, turned out to be important.

In fact, I think this vote approving the changes to the MLS is far more significant than most people seem to appreciate. The changes go right to the heart of what the MLS is and should be. And those changes may be really positive ones whose time has come.

For those reasons, I am now formally calling for a “Grand Conversation” about the MLS. If the industry is going to make these fundamental changes, then it ought to do so consciously, knowing what it wants to achieve, rather than making incremental changes here and there without realizing where it’s ended up.

Let’s get into it.

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On Rupert Murdoch Buying Realtor.com (Part 1)

Rupert Murdoch: the patron of REALTORS everywhere?

Rupert Murdoch: the patron of REALTORS everywhere? (And his wife… oh my… we need more Asians in RE…)

By now, I’m sure any reader of mine knows that we have seen the second major blockbuster deal in the digital real estate space, with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp agreeing to buy Move, Inc., the operator of Realtor.com, Top Producer, Tiger Leads, ListHub, and other brands. It’s an all-cash offer of $21 per share, which comes to $950 million as of this writing.

There are all sorts of interesting things to think about and wonder about here, and I’m writing this post in large part to understand my own thinking about this deal. Quite frankly, this is very different from Zillow buying Trulia — they’re both portals, in the same business, and they’re getting bigger. This is a media company that has significant digital real estate operations (2/3 owner of REA, the Australian near-monopoly on online real estate ) buying a U.S. portal.

So I put “Part 1″ above, because I rather think there may be multiple parts to this one. Let’s get into it.

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Antitrust Questions on MLS Decision to Screw With Syndication

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Having just spent a couple of days at CMLS, a young man’s fancy turns to questions of MLS-related things. In this case, a middle-aged man’s fancy might turn that way too, since it’s been a while since I’ve been a young man with fancy of any sort.

As most of my readers probably know, RealTracs, a large regional MLS in Nashville, recently made news:

By the end of the month, Brentwood, Tennessee-based RealTracs Solutions says it will limit the information included in direct data feeds it sends to public portals. RealTracs, which has nearly 10,000 members, is also in negotiations with listing syndicator ListHub to limit third-party portals’ display of listing data.

The changes include a four-photo limit; the elimination of several data fields; listing descriptions will be restricted to 150 characters; and public portals will be required to include a link to the listing detail page on the listing broker’s website.

As part of its reasoning behind the changes, RealTracs said consumers deserve a closer relationship with Realtors who provide the work product powering public portals, and brokerage websites can provide a more personal experience for consumers. The MLS also said brokerages should be allowed to manage advertising in ways advantageous to their companies.

Zillow has already said Nyet to the plan:

Now, White says Zillow has informed him it would reject any data feed that did not have complete data and would therefore terminate the feeds of RealTracs listings it receives from listing syndicators ListHub and Point2 on Sept. 23. Zillow is the most highly trafficked real estate portal on the Web with 46 million unique visitors via desktop and mobiles devices in June, according to comScore.

No response yet from Realtor.com, but Trulia has already said it’ll go along with the MLS’s wishes.

I have to admit to being some sort of strange real estate nerd in that this situation makes me wonder about a couple of antitrusty things. But here goes.

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Notorious POD: Episode 11 — Kathy Dryden of Allre.com

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Wow, it’s been a long time, eh? I apologize for the lapse, but as I sort of explain in the podcast itself, I’ve been busy, and there hasn’t been that much going on that makes me want to record one of these.

But… that’s changed with the introduction of Allre.com, a new startup based in San Diego, CA, that really, actually wants to disrupt the industry. Here’s the video presentation from TechCrunch Disrupt:

 


The initial reaction from real estate folks has been… as expected. Just check out the comments to that TechCrunch post above.

I figured, rather than slinging mud, maybe we should get to know the company a bit better, so I asked Kathy Dryden, the Founder & CEO, for an interview. And she granted it. So this episode is about Allre, about disruption, and about my thoughts and opinions based on our conversation.

Many thanks to Kathy for the interview, and for agreeing to reschedule them a couple of times, despite the thousands of emails in her inbox, and a zillion things to do after the TechCrunch debut.

Thanks!

-rsh