Friday Flash: A helping hand

Joe Rand is one of the smartest brokerage operators I know. Take a minute to read what he has to say about real estate disruption. It’s candid, clear-eyed and substantial.

A refreshing elevation from the usual claptrap about change.

A leading venture capitalist and former PayPal executive is going to launch a company that “will make it easy to sell entire homes in a few clicks.”

Sounds preposterous. But if you read between the lines it seems the idea is to have people sell the homes (in a few clicks, sitting in their underwear, etc.) to this company, which will then place them on the open market.

So perhaps this is a We Buy Ugly Houses with technology and without the downmarket stain. Or not.

Worth keeping an eye on in any case.

Time for an update on the most important online real estate company that isn’t an online real estate company, Airbnb.

They raised another $500 million (their funding total is now $826 million) at a $10 billion dollar valuation.

There’s always disagreement when it comes to determining who can and cannot make money off MLS listings data. MLSs have tried it. NAR tried it to sustain RPR. Big companies like CoreLogic actually do it, though it’s not a huge business.

All of this irks brokers, who feel they should be the beneficiaries of listings monetization. They are, after all, the legal owners of these things.

The current dust-up is between the Realty Alliance, which is petitioning NAR to require MLSs to hand over data to brokers for the purpose of creating AVMs they can sell to lenders and other financial institutions.

This has been happening on the DL for a long time, but it should be taken above board. NAR should do this.

Personally, while I support brokers on this one, I have always felt homeowners have something of a moral right to their “listing.” This is a data point of their creation. And, really, it would give me great satisfaction to get a nickel from Citibank every time they used my home to make an underwriting decision.

Google launched a service called Helpouts last year. It’s live video help from experts, on demand. One can get advice on a tech problem. Get career counseling. Or find a math tutor. Heck, you can even have your most gnawing questions about the cosmos answered.

Some advice is free, some is not. Those giving it provide bios and are rated by users.

This week, Google released a Helpouts iOS app. Think about that for a minute. Millions of people will soon have access to live, expert advice offered on a trusted platform within the palm of their hands.

You could see where I was going with this a mile away, but when we talk about reinventing the customer experience, or new points of contact between Realtors and consumers, this is the stuff that gets you thinking.

You won’t find any real estate brokers offering Helpouts. Should you?

Enjoy the weekend.