Demolishing real estate's "Fortress of Suckitude"

A drink. A steak.

A night flight home.

I tear up at an email from my wife with a photo of my daughter, six, holding her new kitty and looking impossibly grown up.

It has been a long day.

I’m restless now. Too tired to read. Uninterested in talking with my aisle-mate. But I’m writing. Because my mind, exhausted, wrung out from two days of too much Diet Coke and air conditioning, is nonetheless kicking with the idea that something excellent might be done in this wonderful crazy business.

The Fortress of Suckitude


I shared a story during the meeting that consumed most of my afternoon:

My office at home is within earshot of our kitchen. Last week, my wife was listening to the radio – a call-in show on NPR – as she got dinner going.

Zillow’s Vice President of Communications was taking questions from callers across the country on foreclosure issues.

One caller delivered the zinger:

“I got most of all of my information on the Barack Obama program and the short-sell program through my hairdresser.”


How did we end up here? How is it that a PR executive from a 5 year-old company that sells advertising and someone’s hairdresser have supplanted the brands and the people that sell real estate as the trusted source for real estate information?

There is an opportunity here. A big one. For any brand or broker that wants it. But grasping it requires demolishing the Fortress of Suckitude that has come to encase so much of real estate in darkness.


Trust must be reestablished. A new property database alone won’t do it.

Credibility must be reclaimed – by demonstrating it.

Brains must be thrown against problems, not pleadings for yet another anesthetic government policy that stalls the cleansing housing recovery requires.

Answer the callers’ questions. And the millions more hungry for guidance through the shadowy streetscape that is today’s housing market. Do it candidly. Do it well. And well, do it.

I met people today who may do it. Who can do it. And that has me writing on this Midnight at 38,000 feet.

Lessons ignored


You may think I’m demonizing Zillow here. I’m not. I am admiring them. I love that they’ve thrown down this challenge. And I’ve never understood those who resent online companies in real estate. They offer so much practitioners can learn from. But so few seem to take the lessons.

That’s not Zillow’s fault.

So please, if you can: pick up the biggest rock you can find and hurl it against the dark glass of the Fortress. And build your own oasis for consumers in its place.