Friday Flash: Round and round

I gave a talk last week at the CEO summit that precedes Inman Connect (a truly impressive event, quite possibly the best ever) in which I shared some of my thoughts on where the industry stands, and where it might be headed.

Here’s a little of what I presented:

Headed into 2018, most real estate industry incumbents find themselves in a game of musical chairs.

They’re shuffling round and round to the tune of “disruption”, wondering if there will be a chair for them when the music stops.

There are too many weak MLSs, too many weak brokers, too many weak associations, too many weak agents in the game.

People are nervous.

Driving this state of affairs are what I call nodes of production – impressive companies, systems, processes and aggregations of agents that are increasingly gobbling up business – or, perhaps more accurately, gobbling up the future.

Here’s a visual representation of this:

Here’s how I see each node:

Zillow Premier Agents: Tens of thousands of productive agents and teams that have bought into a business-building process shaped by data and supported by excellent software.

The Redfin Stack: A world-class customer acquisition application, on top of a finely-specified process, on top of a brand promise.

iBuyers: Masses of data and capital thrown at a core customer experience problem: Selling a home takes too long and often disrupts people’s lives.

Super teams: Small units of command, control and process in an industry with too little of all three of those things.

Compass: An aggregation of high producers and their high-net-worth customers, wrapped in great design and supported by data and software (whether you believe in their long-term prospects or not, they now have effectively limitless capital and are going to be a force in our business for a good long while).

Smart brokers: those operators hustling to know what they know – to cease being “dumb” enterprises dependent on body count and becoming “smart” enterprises that hack their own businesses to leverage the data they own but have never used.

You might think of this, if we must use the “D” word, as “distributed disruption” – a steady building of power among an array of forces. We can stop waiting for the Uber or Airbnb of real estate to pop up and hit us with a mortal blow. The engine driving change is heating up right under our noses.

Imagine these nodes of production together, across the market, steadily building energy, and you can begin to see the future take shape.

This future, however painfully arrived at, will present a better real estate industry:

A place where selling or buying a home becomes meaningfully less difficult, time consuming or costly.

A place where technology and data actually create a more liquid, vibrant and ultimately bigger housing market.

A place where great agents and brokers don’t have to fight for dollars, trust and respect with those around them who aren’t great, or even good.

We’re getting there.