Friday Flash: Dude…

“We are proud of the work we have done with Upstream to help them gain their footing and reach this next phase of their launch, and we are pleased that a new plan is being implemented that will propel them forward and help them become the tool we’ve always envisioned they would be for our members,” said NAR CEO Bob Goldberg.

“This project has been an amazing opportunity to drive innovation and conversation among our brokerage community and gain their input into building the tools they use every day in their business. As I’ve said since the beginning of my tenure as CEO, we are not in the business of inventing at NAR; we’ve supported Upstream to the extent that makes sense for both our strategic missions and now it is time for them to step out on their own.”

What’s always made me mad about RPR isn’t that it never should have existed in the first place.

It’s the arrogance that gets me.

The quotes above, from this week’s announcement that RPR is no longer Upstream’s development partner, mark a multi-year, $13 million-dollar failure that’s just the spoiled garnish on a plate of disaster.

RPR loses millions in member dues money and falls down on a commitment to brokers and NAR’s CEO is “proud”?

This was an “amazing opportunity to drive innovation and conversation”?


This is an affront to every hump-busting Realtor out there; every broker who bought into the vision of Upstream; everyone who believes, as I do, that there’s more at stake here than face-saving.

More broadly, it’s this type of stuff that makes one think that NAR is wholly unprepared to reckon with not just the future, but its own present.

And that’s a problem you can’t smooth over with a press release.

Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is who is Upstream’s new mystery partner? I don’t know, but my guess is Moxiworks. They’re broker-owned, free from significant MLS industry conflicts and know the space well.

If you want to see Apple-quality stagecraft in real estate, watch this video of a recent Compass event. Whether you love or loathe this company, it’s a master class in knowing your audience. The pacing, sequence and modulation of emotion is tuned perfectly.

Homebot won the Realogy FWD startup pitch event a few weeks ago. I like this company a lot. They produce very detailed, very smart property analyses that real estate agents and loan officers send to homeowners. This includes what you might expect (a value estimate, estimated equity, etc.) but also much more (refi scenarios, a mortgage prepayment analysis – even estimated Airbnb rental earnings). It’s all done very smoothly. Lots of data is tied together under the surface. And it’s well designed.

Products like this have existed for a long time (CoreLogic’s ePropertyWatch is the most widely used) but Homebot has surpassed them.

I have always said that whoever masters loyalty in real estate wins. This is a good tool to use if you agree with me.

I am starting to think that ibuyers are a hack to the real estate industry’s peculiar structure, not a replacement. Because the incumbent business model is so durable, so diffuse and embedded, these new companies have needed to create a structure that doesn’t eliminate it, but sits slightly above it like an elevated freeway spans a chaotic, congested cityscape.

People on the streets below flow on and off this new structure (agents help sell ibuyer listings, or refer out sellers to ibuyers) and user experience is generally improved (people get to where they want to go faster with less wear and tear).

Opendoor’s recent adjustment to include agents in their listing process illustrates this.

This isn’t without consequence for agents and brokers, of course. They stand, in some cases, like main street merchants, to make less money because of the freeway’s existence. But I am not seeing this as a zero-sum sort of story.

This picture should get much clearer in the coming year.

Enjoy the weekend.