Friday Flash: Living with contradiction

Brokers have always been in a great position to deliver authoritative insights on local real estate market conditions, but very few do it well. Many resort to automated market videos (which I loathe) or inscrutable charts repurposed from other sources.

Northern California brokerage Pacific Union came out with set of videos that show how to do it right. Each piece covers a different region within their footprint and delivers a clear, quick market overview mixing hard numbers and intelligence gathered from their people in each area. Production values are high.

Check out this example.

Inman released a report this week on what they’re calling “Hybrid Brokers” — new and mostly small firms that are out to change the real estate business model.

Even if you think these companies are doomed to fail, it’s worth a read. Like I wrote here a couple weeks back, now’s no time to stop paying attention to the people trying out new stuff in our business.

There’s lots of buzz on the broker street about Zillow price hikes. I’ve been hearing about this for months, but it’s really hitting now. has been raising prices too, but nobody seems to care as much about that.

Most brokers are balking, which seems to be what Zillow wants. Selling enhanced listing packages to brokers is so 2009.

At the same time, more and more brokers are setting up direct feeds to Zillow. And I hear from some that lead quality is improving.

Contradiction is a defining characteristic of our industry these days.

We live in a world of notifications – bits of information that come to us without a search, download, voice query or app launch. Think Google Now, or pretty much any app on the Apple watch.

User interfaces are dissolving into the background because, well, devices are requiring less interfacing.

Earlier this year, an app named Hooks came out that allows you to set up notifications for almost anything you want. This trend isn’t going away.

This instant gratification reality doesn’t extend to much of the real estate process. We have new listing alerts during the search, but that’s about it. The mortgage world is still a particularly wild frontier.

Consider this example: how many times during this last decade of plummeting mortgage rates did you ask yourself, “Should I refinance?” And how many times did you not bother getting an answer because you didn’t want to call a mortgage broker who’d take 3 days to get back to you, or subject yourself to online mortgage quote chaos?

Wouldn’t it be better if your lender had an app that just notified you when it made sense to refi? They have all your information, after all. This would reduce the lender’s portfolio churn, too.

Whoever figures out how to create this sort of connection with borrowers and homeowners is going to do really, really well.

That’s it for now. Enjoy the weekend.

[Disclosure: Pacific Union is a 1000WATT client.]