1000watt Blog

Writings about real estate, branding, marketing, media and technology from the principals of 1000watt.

Friday Flash: Rocking the VOW, creative deal-spinning and Pinterest nostalgia

Redfin continues to rock the VOW. Yesterday, the company released what amounts to a consumer-facing CMA app. You enter the subject property, choose comps using MLS data, and get a value range. Familiar stuff.

CEO Glenn Kelman positioned this against the Zestimate, which I understand. But he also suggested this tool would let consumers do more or less what Realtors do to price properties, which I do not buy.

Agents who live and breathe a neighborhood (The type of agent Redfin generally does notemploy at this time) go much deeper, factoring variables that escape the magic of software.

This is the gap Redfin must bridge. The gap most other brokers must bridge lies between the notion that doing this sort of thing themselves would somehow undermine their value, and the reality that building truly compelling consumer experiences, no matter how “transparent”, is always the smart long-term play.

This makes me think that a group like Leading RE or the Realty Alliance representing “traditional” brokers ought to pool some significant member money and set up a dev shop that could create Redfin-quality software.

Recruit developers, pay them above market salaries (you’d have too), get a serious geek to run it, and get out of the way.


Trulia announced a “partnership” with California brokerage Alain Pinel. This is their response to the deals Zillow and Realtor.com announced last month with Howard Hanna.

The thing that’s interesting here is that these are, basically, the same kind of ad deals the online guys have been cutting for years. It’s just that now, amid the syndication heat, they are positioned in somewhat outsized terms.

Perception is reality, right?

A group of folks announced an open data standard for food at the SXSW event this week.  It will now be easier to create food apps.

They started on this project a few months ago. I think I was still in high school when the notion of an open standard for real estate data was hatched.

Pinterest is already a mess. I miss those happy golden days of February, 2012.

Facebook updated its Open Graph API to show the location of updates posted into the platform from third party apps.

An interesting real estate possibility: A buyer or agent could throw up posts along the lines of “Toured 5311 Golden Gate Avenue” with a geotag.

The distributive power of such “actions” is immense. Seems like someone should do this, if listing rules permit.

There’s some interesting stuff going on in the online rental search space. Check out Place of Mine and Lovely. Really nice search experiences. But it’s the collaborative tools these sites offer that are worth a close look.

Searching together is the norm offline, but that reality has never been truly nailed online.

These sites provide some good cues.

Check out CityMaps.com. Think about the typical points of interest/amenities display found on real estate websites.

The latter answers the “what’s around here?” question. The former answers that too, but also tells you what’s happening now.

Cool stuff.

Have a great weekend.

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11 Responses to “Friday Flash: Rocking the VOW, creative deal-spinning and Pinterest nostalgia”

  1. Drew Meyers says:

    On leading RE setting up a dev shop…frankly, I think it comes down to hiring the right person who gives a sh*t about creating the best products out there. And I doubt they would throw enough coin at the right person to see it through. Further, I’m guessing the only way they could afford it would be to get commitments ahead of time from several of their big clients to use/buy the software — and no one will commit without seeing the result.

    Just my 2 cents

  2. Brian Hickey says:

    The “box” can only supply data and will never be able to “make a real market” for residential real estate.

    But then again HAL did a pretty good job of thinking……….



  3. Alon Chaver says:

    I agree with you completely on the CMA Brian – not only do local agents “live and breath the neighborhood”, if they are good, they have visited each comp physically, judged it as compared to all the other homes on the market, the homes that have been on the market, and the homes that are coming on the market.

    And let’s not forget, good local agents have a keen sense of the buyer demand (and buyer price expectations) at any given time.

    As a real estate investor for over 20 years, I have bought and sold dozens of properties and have looked at hundreds, but I still turn to my agent (same one) to get his wisdom on the value of every single new property that I am considering.

    In my humble opinion, there is simply no replacement for a good local agent!


  4. Joel says:

    Thanks for the mention, Brian. We’re excited to be working on making apartment hunting a less painful process. People certainly do collaborate on apartment searches, and we look forward to introducing additional tools to help friends and families find homes.

  5. NuHabitat says:

    Brian…there is so much exciting stuff going on with application and platform dev. Your comment…”This makes me think that a group like Leading RE or the Realty Alliance representing “traditional” brokers ought to pool some significant member money and set up a dev shop that could create Redfin-quality software” really resinates with exactly where we are headed. If you you get any feedback on this…keep us in mind. I would love to team with somebody.

  6. Scott MacDonald says:

    Hey Brian,

    Thanks for bringing the Redfin tool to our attention. It is about as accurate as a Zestimate. It said my house was worth between $465,000 and $695,000 – a huge variance. This information would do the consumer absolutely no good when trying to determine their value and trying to decide if they should go on the market. What do you think Redfin is trying to accomplish with this addition to their website?

    • Jeff Beck says:

      Seriously? I hope Redfin didn’t spend more than $512.95 developing this amazing CMA “tool”.

      How could anyone who has EVER sold anything, or ever done more 5 ACTUAL real estate transactions think that prospects would be excited about this kind of “CMA”?

      “The Redfin tool… said my house was worth between $465,000 and $695,000″

    • Brian Boero says:

      Scott –

      Redfin is trying to win customers. Providing them with engaging tools like this serves that purpose.

      I do think that Glenn oversold the value of this for actually establishing the value of a property, but that does mean it won’t appeal to consumers.

    • Dave Bonitati says:

      That’s exactly right Brian. Just another shiny object to attract home sellers to Redfin. Once they get a nibble with the consumer CMA, they set the hook. It’s just a more sophisticated “Find out how much your home is worth, click here” link we all have on our websites.

  7. Galen says:

    “… and get out of the way.”

    This is what they won’t do. Traditional brokers want CRMs and leads and the agent is the client.

    What the big companies are missing is not the ability to pay developers above cost – its vision and a genuine consumer focus. They want ROI in 6 months, they want leads and the ability to spam leads, and they are up against 2 (3?) companies who are willing to take losses for years. The traditional guys won’t realize they’re in trouble until it’s too late.

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