Friday Flash: Hot stuff

Real estate tech M&A is hot.

Teams are hot.

Expansion teams are hot.

Opendoor and its imitators are hot.

Keller Williams is hot.

AI is hot.

Brokerage consolidation is hot.

MLS consolidation is hot.

Marketing automation is hot.

Redfin—on ice for years—is now, once again, hot.

Seriously… there’s a lot going on in the industry these days. That’s good. Change makes people nervous. But I am struggling to see where it’s all heading, and there are some mixed signals.

How can Opendoor and other “iBuyers” be rocking traditional real estate at the same time that Realogy reports increased year-over-year revenue and transaction volume?

How can Keller Williams be on its way to real estate network dominance when RE/MAX has increased its agent count in the US and Canada over the past year?

How can brokerage consolidation be the future when teams are kicking the legs out from under the big-broker stool?

Everything’s hot, but nobody’s getting burned. The real estate industry has a beautifully perverse resilience. So, I’m going to resist putting too much importance any one deal, or any one company.

In other words, let’s chill.

Nextdoor, the company that powers neighborhood-level social networks, announced a real estate ad product a couple of weeks ago. They’re asking brokers for listing feeds, which is kicking a hornet’s nest, and the launch proposition wasn’t exactly communicated convincingly, but I like anything that keeps agents in front of homeowners on their mobile devices between transactions.
Worth keeping an eye on.

Speaking of staying in front of neighbors and past clients, here’s an app idea we’ve kicked around for a while: a native application, provisioned by a brokerage and co-branded with its agents, that would be given to buyers at closing.
It would do four things:

  1. Send push notifications for new sale prices in the immediate vicinity of the client’s home
  2. Send push notifications for new listings in the immediate vicinity of a client’s home
  3. Send monthly push notifications with three neighborhood-level market metrics (Median sales price, days on market and list to sale price ratio)
  4. Send push notifications for a very short list of seasonal home maintenance items

No search, no fluff. Just relevant, quick-hit information nested in a broker-branded wrapper with easy access to the agent via email, text or phone. Simplicity of purpose is key.

Call it “My Home,” or something like that.  

Better than a fridge magnet, maybe?

Bob Goldberg has started work as CEO of NAR. I’d love to see him pursue a couple things with his board:

  1. Shutting down RPR
  2. Culling the Realtor herd

Number one would free up a ton of money that could be put into things like political advocacy, which NAR is good at.

Number two is far more important, and far tougher. We all seem to realize that the half-million or so sub-professional Realtors out there harm the Realtor brand and stand unworthy of something so important as homeownership.

Many, including myself, have ranted, argued, pontificated or pleaded for something to be done about this. I think we need to look at this more rationally.

The biggest blocker seems to be the pride and political power that lies in claiming a huge membership number (1,279,132 as of July). That gives NAR a lot of juice on Capitol Hill, no doubt, and this reality needs to be respected in any discussion of raising the bar.

How can we unpack this?

Let’s first assume that a smaller, more professional NAR membership would also be a more engaged membership. That’s not only possible, but likely. Lean and loud is better than large and limp.

Second, I think there was something to the strategy behind NAR’s failed HouseLogic initiative. If you recall, the idea was to engage homeowners to the point where they could someday, possibly, become attached to the Realtor movement. Think AARP or AAA. The problem with HouseLogic lied in execution, not intent.

Millions of homeowners represented by hundreds of thousands of active, serious Realtors would be a powerful thing.

That’s it for now. I hope to see you at Inman Connect next week.

[Disclosure: Realogy is a 1000WATT client]