Friday Flash: Dwell, dwell…

Dwell magazine, the glossy pub that always makes me feel like I have no taste, launched a real estate listings site last week.

They’re only displaying agent-submitted homes for sale that are “Dwell certified” – cool, modern and generally high-end places that align with the Dwell brand. If Dwell delivers a buyer to the listing agent they collect a 30% referral fee.

The website needs work, and I am not sure there are going to be a ton of agent and broker takers with the steep referral fee, but I do think there’s something here that’s worth watching. With “home search” becoming nearly ubiquitous and increasingly uniform, I think this sort of niche home discovery play is going to become more common.

Inman News is near and dear to my heart. I started my career in the real estate industry there in 1997 and left as President of the company in 2004. I have been involved as an advisor and board member since then.

From this perspective, I can say that the launch of Inman Select, a new subscription service, is the most exciting move the company has made since Brad created the Real Estate Connect conference in 1996.

Inman has invested heavily in new content to make this happen, hiring new reporters, launching new features, and going big on video and research. Select launched last weekend and the content has been fantastic so far.

Yes, it costs money. But the cost is small relative to the value delivered if you want to keep up with our rapidly changing industry.

Zillow shut down AgentFolio this week. The product – which evolved from Z’s acquisition of Buyfolio in 2012 – helped agents work through property searches with clients in a collaborative fashion (sharing listings, notes, ratings, etc.). It was really nicely done.

Retiring this product is not that big a deal. It happens all the time. But if we step back a bit we can see a somewhat contradictory signal here. Many (including me) have been keen on the group of companies that have emerged in this “collaboration” space. Now Zillow pulls the cord. But during the same week, RealScout, another company that allows agents and clients to collaborate on home searches, announced a $6 million in funding round. And CloudStreams, also in this vein, continues to gain momentum.

We’ll see where it heads, but I still believe software that comes after or right before lead conversion is going to be in big demand going forward.

Historically, online real estate hasn’t given much love to sellers or the agents who serve them. The portals are geared functionally for buyers (home search) and therefore spit out buyer leads to buyer agents.

But this is starting to change. Companies like SmartZip and Property Radar are offering what you might call intelligent farming for agents targeting sellers. The days of wasteful “spray and pray” direct mail are ending.

This week RealtyTrac got into the game, giving agents and other professionals the ability to slice, dice and download lists from a database of over 100 million properties. The company was always a foreclosure player, but when Core Logic acquired Dataquick earlier this year, regulators required them to license a copy of their data to RealtyTrac.

Looks like they’re jumping on that opportunity.

The guys at Hawaii Life run a great real estate brokerage. You may know that. What you may not know is that they also host a really cool conference called Worthshop. It’s unorthodox, creative and chill – just like the hosts.

This year’s event is December 10-13 at the Andaz resort in Maui.

We recommend it highly.

So last week Joel writes a post stating that IDX property search probably won’t be the core of most agent and small broker websites going forward and that piggybacking on the portals’ massive mobile audience probably makes sense at this point.

An opinion with which one may agree or disagree. Fair game.

But when Inman ran the post Joel got called an “idiot” and a “Zillow apologist.”

Joel took it with a dignified calm (he’s Canadian), but this episode reminded us just how raw the Zillow nerve is in the industry.

1000WATT has worked with hundreds of brokers. We’ve never worked with Zillow (or own Zillow stock, for that matter). We understand and accommodate positions all along the Zillow love/hate spectrum.

But something’s off here, a distortion field of bad vibes is coursing through the industry. Resentment, resignation, venom, self-loathing, weakness… none of it good.

You’ll hear more from us on this next week.

Enjoy the weekend.