Tag Archives: Zillow

Greed Is Good: In Which I Talk to Victor Lund about the BPP

I just had a fascinating conversation with Victor Lund of WAV Group who is spearheading the Broker Public Portal effort. We discussed a variety of topics from governance to equity to internal politics, shape of the industry, competitiveness, Zillow, Trulia, brokerages, etc. etc. It was awesome, and my thanks to Victor for making the time.

One thing that really struck me in the chat, and what I thought I’d write about, is just how much of a Adam Smith worshipping capitalist pig I am. I believe in the social benefits of private interests, the efficiency of the profit motive in bringing wonderful products and services to the world, and in short, that greed is good.

Now, in everything that follows, one caveat: Victor was not representing his own opinions, but reflecting the opinions and thoughts of the brokers and MLSs involved in the BPP conversation, as he should be, when he’s leading the PR and communications effort for the BPP organizing effort. So do not attribute anything here to Victor personally. :)

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A Few Thoughts on the New Zillow Group

TruZilla Rises!

TruZilla Rises!

If you’re in the real estate industry — and why wouldn’t you be if you’re reading this blog — then you know by now that our lords and masters have approved Zillow’s $3.5 billion acquisition of Trulia. The new entity is not named TruZilla, Destroyer of Tokyo; it’s named Zillow Group.

I’ve had the opportunity to spend a few minutes on the phone today with Greg Schwartz, Chief Revenue Officer of Zillow (or is now Zillow Group?), and Paul Levine, the former COO of Trulia, who was named as the President of Trulia in the reorganization. I’ve known both men for years now, and consider them both to be among the best and brightest in the industry, and in the interests of revealing all possible conflicts, I’ve done some work for Paul and had Greg buy me a drink or two at various events. You decide whether I’m incorrigibly biased or not.

In any event, based on those conversations, as well as general stuff floating around, here are my initial few thoughts on the Zillow Group. I have no doubt that we’ll be talking about them much, much more in the future days to come.

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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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Free Advice to The Broker Public Portal

free-advice

Much in the news of late is the Broker Public Portal, a project/concept that has been in the works for months, if not years, and appears to be on the verge of happening at last. Victor Lund of the WAV Group has been publicizing the project, which had been shrouded in secrecy for quite some time. From Victor’s post:

The national broker portal project continues to gain momentum as brokers and MLSs agree to participate in the formation of the company to explore the launch of a national MLS consumer facing website with broker governance. Although only a month into the funding period, the group is well on its way to raising the $250,000.

After the holiday, the Council of MLSs hosted two online webinars on the topic. The Realty Alliance and The Leading Real Estate Companies of the World also hosted two webinars. This activity was followed by the delivery of information at the CEO Summit as part of the Real Estate Connect conference. Leading franchise organizations including Home Services of America, Realogy Franchise Group, RE/MAX and Keller Williams have also had executive briefings on the project.

Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that having a national portal controlled by the “industry” (more on this later) is a great idea whose time has come. With Move/Realtor.com now part of a giant multinational media company, and Zillow and Trulia’s merger imminent, it may be a great time for a new competitor to enter the scene.

From that premise then, there are a few major issues that really stand out to me. So this is my free advice — worth what they paid for it — to the folks trying to get the BPP project off the ground.

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Concerning MLS Enforcement of Cooperation and Compensation, An Observation

In the comments section of my post on Listhub and Zillow, an intelligent discussion and debate broke out. Given the rarity of such thing on the Interwebz, I think we should celebrate that.

Now then, the subject of the discussion was around the “value proposition” of the MLS in the 21st century and how the rise of these huge tech companies, as well as potential threats from things like the as-yet-unknown Project Upstream, could impact it. The discussion turned to what many consider to be the core value proposition of the MLS: “cooperation and compensation.” As it turns out, there’s something to think about here, so let’s get into it.

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