Friday Flash: Accentuate the positive unveiled a re-brand this week, its second in as many years.

Normally, this would be insane. But in case you haven’t noticed, these aren’t the sanest times in the online real estate space.

Zillow had pushed to the brink of irrelevance by the time News Corp. swooped in. Stuff needs to happen fast if the company is to regain its footing. So, yeah, pulling out a new look, even if its effect is largely symbolic, isn’t a horrible idea.

Personally, I like the new logo a lot, even though typographically it does kind of have a daytime talk show kind of vibe. But it’s warmer and carries more energy than its teal and grey predecessor. And let’s be honest, it sure beats this:

The new TV ads are also good. Though it seems like pretty much all real estate-related TV spots these days are either heaping helpings of pathos glazed with hearth and home sweetness or just goofy fun. It’d be interesting to see what would happen if a brand broke out of that pattern.

We got a little more detail on project Upstream this week. Seems they’re cooking up a partnership with my favorite company, RPR. The idea is for RPR to power some of the back-end stuff, just like RPR is proposing to do for MLSs.

I’m going to keep this positive:

If RPR can help brokers get smarter about their data, then that’s a good thing.

As a side note… you may have noticed that in the official statements about Upstream there was mention of brokers being able to place customer or client data into the repository. While most are focused on what will happen when brokers aggregate listings, I think the potential applications with client data are perhaps more interesting.

The truth is most brokerages don’t know who their customers are. The brokerage I’ve used to buy two homes doesn’t know I’m a client when I log into its website. They’re not keeping in touch with me with relevant information. They don’t mash my profile together with other databases to anticipate when I might be back in the market.

They’re in the dark, just hoping they can snag me next time around.

If Upstream enables real estate companies to improve in this area, that’s something to get excited about.

Agents and brokers have a huge database of leads at their fingertips.

It’s called Facebook.

And for most agents, all the “big data” B.S. being hyped in real estate can be tuned out because the whole concept boils down to one word for them:


Facebook now has 1.44 billion users, so most people in any market or farm are already there, waiting for something smart or useful from a real estate professional. Not a meme. Not a kitten. Not a selfie. Not a chest-beating platitude.

There’s a cost involved, of course. Astonishingly little in most cases. The days of free reach are done. But what you can do is amazing. Want to target homeowners within a 1-mile radius between the ages of 50-65 who are likely to move in the next year? You can now do that.

I mention this because Facebook added a new call-to-action option for local news feed ads this week: “Call Now.”

Smart marketers are going to make the phone ring off the hook.

I don’t want to talk about syndication, but I am talking about Facebook, so I’ll mention the big FB story this week: Instant Articles. In a nutshell, you no longer have to click away from Facebook to read articles from some content sources, most notably, at launch, The New York Times.

TechCrunch has a good context piece. It’s worth reading as we continue debating the proper balance between content and distribution in our own industry.

‘Nuff said. Enjoy the weekend.