Friday Flash: "I Can't believe it's Not Brokerage!" and better drinking through technology

I think finding the right Realtor is the great unsolved problem in online real estate.

If we can mine our social graphs to find a pet sitter, surely we can transport an ingrained offline behavior – getting referred to an agent by a friend – to the online world. It’s just a matter of time.

Trulia has stuck a toe in this water with Social Search, but it’s positioned as an agent tool and limited to the Trulia agent directory. Realtor.com has gone deeper with its Hyper Social initiative but it, too, is an agent focused play.

A couple of promising, if flawed, data-driven attempts to solve this problem have been smothered in the cradle, launching and disappearing within days.

So the problem remains. It would be good to see brokers and MLSs jump on it now, not respond to and recriminate over an outside entity’s innovation later.

ListHub, the listings syndicator owned by Move, released a new dashboard that gives brokers more information about the publishers to which they can distribute listings.

Brokers (ListHub does not allow agents to syndicate listings directly) can now sort publishers by filters like “Does not re-syndicate” or “Displays listing broker name.”

It might be simpler just to offer a “Does not mess with my data or business model” filter.

But seriously, I think brokers now have a better basis upon which to make informed syndication decisions. Perhaps less obviously but more importantly, they now have a platform from which they might collectively bargain with publishers.

The brokers’ responsibility? Pay attention!

The sooner the broker/publisher relationship settles into a place where everybody’s cool, the better. There are more important things to focus on.

Since I mentioned re-syndication, I’ll give you an example:

When you visit this page on Curbed, the real estate media site active in about a dozen markets, you see a “House of the Day:”

House of the day

This is a property listed by Houlihan Lawrence, a large brokerage north of New York City (and a 1000watt client). Curbed attracts consumer attention with this content and then sells that attention to advertisers. Curbed got this listing from Zillow (that’s the re-syndication part) and links to the listing as it appears there.

Curbed gets content. Zillow gets link love and distribution and Houlihan Lawrence exposes its listing to a very large audience.

Win-win-win? Or shall we get out the pitchforks and torches?

The answer, either way, should be based on analysis, not impulse.

This Silicon Alley Insider interview of Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff is worth reading. Spencer lays out the market opportunity they’re after very clearly.

The salient quote:

‘We’re trying to move to a world where agents wake up, roll out of bed, and pull out their tablet or PC and manage their day and their workflow based on the tools that Zillow provides to them.”

He also reiterates what Zillow will not go after:

“We have been very clear with the industry that our grand vision is to be a media company, and not to be a brokerage. They want to make sure that we will not have Zillow real estate agents and we will not actually compete with them.”

I believe him.

But here’s the thing: If you’re giving agents marketing support, training, tools for managing your business and loads of information all wrapped in a brand that has resonance with consumers, you’ve essentially created something akin to “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Brokerage!”

I wonder what Fabio is up to these days.

You may think this post is a Zillow-hating rant. It’s not.

It’s a call to action to brokers to create new ways to engage consumers and deliver value to agents.

It is possible.

Holy cow. They’ve done it! The spill-proof beer.

Enjoy the weekend.

[Disclosure: Move, Inc., which operates Realtor.com, is a 1000watt client]

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