Friday Flash: Catching up

Gate B11. Setting sun. Midway airport, Chicago.

Time to jot down a few scattered thoughts:

The Century 21 re-brand is a winner. There was a job to be done – bringing the visual identity of this brand four decades forward – and it was done well.

There are lots of, “but…” points to be made, but they’re obvious. The job was done well.


Remax bought Booj, a company that provides a Website/CRM/CMA product to brokerages. I am struggling to make sense of this. At 1000WATT, we have arrived at a point where we’re hard pressed to recommend hiring a broker website vendor, let alone buying one.

Brokerage website companies follow a predictable trajectory:

  1. Launch with a newer, perhaps better take on the same feature list offered by current “legacy” providers.
  2. Undercharge to gain traction.
  3. Make customizations to gain traction.
  4. Continue to undercharge to keep the customers you’ve won.
  5. Get mired in MLS integrations and further customizations.
  6. Find that there’s no longer time or money to invest back into the product.
  7. Graduate to “legacy” status.

We’ve seen this over and over and over. Few – very few – escape this fate.

1000WATT kicked off an engagement with a mortgage tech firm last week and I was once again reminded of this thing I keep forgetting: we’re not really going to make the real estate transaction experience much better until we find a way to reconstitute the mortgage process.

It’s funny, though. The real estate brokerage industry and the mortgage industry, so often sharing a customer, and so interdependent, may as well exist on different planets. Real estate has its trade org, mortgage has theirs. Real estate has its conferences, mortgage has theirs.

Statutory and regulatory factors play strongly here, but there’s not much mixing, even at an intellectual level. I think there’s an opportunity there.

Gary Keller announced that Keller Williams is now a technology company. Macy’s announced that they are launching self-service checkout. These things strike me as self-defeating in similar ways. This assumes, of course, that these are both serious initiatives, not just optical and rhetorical exercises. They could be just that.

Docusign is rumored to be going public. If so, NAR may end up with a windfall. Second Century Ventures, the trade organization’s venture fund, first invested in DocuSign back in 2009. If this plays well, it could be one of the biggest wins of the Stinton era.

Brett Hagler at New Story, a charity that builds safe, simple homes for people in undeveloped coutries, is someone I admire a lot. If you don’t know Brett or his company, you should. I am humbled by his passion and persistence every I time I see him.

Last week, New Story announced that it had partnered with a tech company to 3D-print homes in 24 hours at a cost of $4,000 each.

Now that is innovation.

Enjoy the weekend.

[Disclosure: Century 21 is a 1000WATT client.]