Friday Flash: The Passion of the Kelman

I have often thought of Redfin’s story as The Passion of Glenn Kelman. He seems, at times, to fancy himself a nerd-messiah bearing real estate’s sins upon his shoulders on a march toward a personal Golgotha.

It grates on people. He is as disliked in online real estate circles as much as he is by the “traditional” brokerage industry. I get that.

But I admire the guy. Whatever you think about him, two things are indisputably true:

  1. Redfin has given an 8-year graduate course in brokerage technology to all of us.
  2. While others talk about innovation and disruption, Kelman is pursuing it. Yes, I know: lots of Redfin deals are simply farmed out for a referral fee. But still, even if you think he’s tilting at windmills, he’s after something big.

I bring this up because Glenn wrote a piece on LinkedIn this week that’s worth reading. It might make you think a little differently about change, disruption, and how it will and will not come about.

Let’s play with some water metaphors, shall we?

The headwaters of the River Listings are to be found in the MLS. What starts as a trickle from an agent’s keyboard into an add/edit form in the MLS system ends up as a mighty rush onto the alluvial plains of the real estate realm.

But that ancient flow is in jeopardy. Some would have it dammed; others would divert it; and an increasing number would like to reverse it entirely.

A sea change may be at hand.

It is in this context that we should all keep an eye on what CRMLS (the nation’s largest MLS) announced this week. They will soon allow agents to enter listings into the MLS from within their broker’s back office system.

In other words, CRMLS is disrupting itself by letting the people they serve claim the headwaters as their own.

This is a Profile In Courage. We need more of them. Props to CRMLS CEO Art Carter and team. announced a partnership with Porch, a startup that lets you see the jobs contractors have performed in your area or, on the flip side, what work has been done on a particular home. Porch has made this possible through some industrial strength data mining.

A few companies have been circling around the “CarFax for homes” opportunity to take us beyond the price history/nearby schools/AVM view that has become commonplace, but this is the first big move toward that goal.

So the Houston Association of Realtors is going to launch a statewide public website. One might think this would be cause for installing concrete barricades around HAR headquarters to repel big brokers out for blood.

But it’s not. Why is that? Many would tell you that it’s because there is no big brokerage powerhouse in Houston, or that because HAR went big on a public site early on most brokers are just resigned to this state of affairs.

I look at it differently. I think being smart and executing well makes all the difference in the world. HAR CEO Bob Hale did this smart. The statewide site will be powered by ListHub, which gives brokers complete control of whether or not their listings appear on this site. And the site (I’ve seen a beta) is really well done. It’s going to drive value to those that want it.

More of the broker/MLS tension has to do with incompetence that we would perhaps care to admit.

Enjoy the weekend.


[Dislcosure: Move, Inc., which operates, is a 1000WATT client]