Friday Flash: The Realtor fight, neighborhood conversations, and local Color

You likely know by now that the NAR has shifted its political activities into high gear with a new “Realtor Party Political Survival Initiative.”
This is a reaction to a recent Supreme Court decision that broadened significantly the Court’s long-held view that political money, in effect, equals speech and therefore cannot be limited.
The gloves that softened the blows a moneyed interest could land on our political bodies have thus been taken off. The NAR feels compelled to step into the ring. I can’t blame them.
Rob Hahn broke down the initiative nicely; you can read Inman’s story here.
I have three quick thoughts to add:

  • Getting excited about this is like getting exited about putting bars on your windows in a bad neighborhood. It’s a necessary concession to a sickened environment. Nonetheless, I am heartened to see NAR focus on what it can do well. This feels like a sound investment. Other recent moves by the organization, most notably the RPR, do not.
  • I’d like to see this initiative positioned more broadly than the “Realtor Party” label permits. I would have preferred “Property Party” and a more conscious appeal to the many millions of homeowners who share Realtors’ antipathy toward transfer taxes, attacks on the MID and other salient policy issues.

The political theorist E.E. Schattschneider wrote that “The outcome of all conflict is determined by the scope of its contagion.” There is an opportunity here to expand the scope of the conflict over home ownership and property rights by more actively including homeowners in the Realtor fight. I believe that was part of the strategy behind HouseLogic. But that’s NAR stepping out of its depth again. I’d love to see the capable NAR political apparatus go after this goal.

  • When the dues increase hits it will remind a couple hundred thousand people that they are, in fact, Realtors. This will cause many of them exit the industry. That is a good thing.

Hyper-local data site EveryBlock has shifted its focus to local community. The data will still be there, but it seems that it alone was not the stuff of a viable business.
I’ve long believed that harnessing, organizing, owning or leveraging the neighborhood conversation is where the online real estate war will be won or lost. This is not about data. It’s about people and who and what they know.
EveryBlock seems to have recognized this.

The big tech news of the week centered on Color – a mobile photo app that ties the pictures you take to the place you’re in and the people around you. Wired offers one of the best overviews, but Federated Media founder John Battelle really opens up the broader implications of this app.
He writes:
if Color is used by a statistically significant percentage of folks, nearly every location that matters on earth will soon be draped in an ever-growing tapestry of visual cloth, one that no doubt will also garner commentary, narrative structure, social graph meaning, and plasticity of interpretation.

Pictures. Places. People. Conversation. We’re going to see this in our space, directly or indirectly, in the not-too-distant future.
If all of this makes you a little uneasy, you might consider one of these.

Luxury flash sale company Gilt Group bought home décor site Decorati. This is not immediately relevant, of course, but it made me think real estate brands are pretty unimaginative with partnerships and acquisitions. There’s a huge “home” world beyond our “real estate” world that holds a lot of interesting opportunities.

Look, I get it. You’re busy. It’s been tough keeping up with celebrity foreclosure news.
Luckily, Zillow issued this handy roundup this week.
You can now head into the weekend informed. Enjoy.