Friday Flash: A wonderful strangeness

I like Glenn Kelman. Always have. Whether you love or loathe Redfin, you gotta acknowledge his commitment, passion and wonderful strangeness.

Interestingly, taking his company public seems to have stoked his unconventional fires, not doused them.

If you haven’t watched his interview with RealScout’s Andrew Flachner last week on Inman, you should. It’s really good. You will witness the CEO of a publicly traded real estate company:

  • Use the word “gonads” and “turd” (I hadn’t heard the former from anyone since around 6th grade).
  • Question the mortgage interest deduction.
  • Honor all who work in real estate with a poetic riff on purpose: “If you have to sell something, why not sell homes? …”
  • Laugh. A lot.

Most CEOs are really good at saying nothing, even when questioned pointedly. Glenn said a ton – practically effused – when faced with good but relatively easy questions.

My point: I think the industry can learn from a person who speaks differently and shares, maybe too freely, what he’s facing as he continues on his real estate ride.

RPR has released Version 1.64.

Facebook launched an “ad product for real estate” in August.

It sounded like a big deal. One of the few companies on earth that could upend both Zillow and the real estate brokerage industry had turned its gaze toward our vertical.  

But the product made no sense to me. And I’m still struggling to understand what’s going on here.

Basically, the product – Dynamic Ads for Real Estate – makes it possible for a brokerage to retarget people who have visited their company website with ads inside Facebook and Instagram that feature listings. It’s automated and scalable.

OK, cool. But here’s the thing: advertising doesn’t sell houses. Never has. Real estate agents, working together, sell houses (Homes aren’t sold, or even “advertised”, on Zillow either; agents are – but that’s another post).

A brokerage running these ads might be able to get some clicks, or impress some of its agents. It would certainly rack up a lot of “brand impressions” of indeterminate value. But if you believe the product is off – and I think that it is – then calculating ROI is impossible because you don’t even really know what you’re investing in.

Facebook has been hovering around the industry in noticeable ways for about the past 18 months. And these people are really smart. Was this product a small first step, then? Or just a quick mod to their e-commerce ad product to test the waters and make a little noise?

I hope it’s the former.

Zillow’s 2017 housing trends report is really impressive. I’ve read darn near all of it, for the same reason that I read almost everything NAR’s research department puts out: you can never know your customer, or your customer’s customer, too well.

Have a great weekend.