Friday Flash: RE/MAX syndicates, agents get over-rated, a new player in e-sigs

In case you missed the Redfin news, you can read about it here. If not, it’s on we go…

The California Association of Realtors announced that it is supporting an agent ratings pilot program administered by, the large Norcal MLS, and Quality Service Certification, Inc. Agents can opt-out, which severely limits this initiative’s utility to consumers, but brokers will likely find the information useful.

More broadly, agents seem on the brink of becoming “over-rated” as the number of sites offering agent reviews grows. All of these sites offer but a sub-set of the total agent population. And while I applaud any effort such as this that gets agents and brokers thinking about quality, it’s becoming a bit of a mess. Soon, agents will dress themselves in reviews much the same way as they dress themselves in clothing today – it’s a basic requirement, but one that’s not likely to make or break you or provide a ton of value to the marketplace.

Trulia and Zillow both announced deals with RE/MAX for listings syndication. RE/MAX had long been a hold-out on mass distribution of listings to media sites, so this marks a significant change. I think it’s interesting that this takes place when the general industry mood toward syndication seems to be more cautious.

A still-under-wraps startup called SignNow announced that is has raised $500,000 to make e-signatures simpler. DocuSign, the leading player in this space, seems to be gaining traction in real estate since it took on an investment from the NAR’s Second Century Ventures a year and half ago, but I’m happy to see any new entrant here. The “paperless real estate transaction” is still largely myth. That needs to change.

We noted the new instagram API in our Spotlight e-newsletter a few weeks back, suggesting that the current mobile photosharing craze may lead to some interesting real estate applications. This week, O’Reilly uncovered a cool mashup using this api called that allows you to explore the world photographically.

It’s a little disorienting, yes. And I’m not suggesting this would be a whiz-bang real estate website feature in this form. But I did find it oddly ineresting as a way to get a sense for the pulse of a place. I continue to think there’s something here that will, in time, be useful for people looking for a place to live.

Enjoy the weekend!