Friday Flash: What's the deal?

If you’re running a real estate/proptech startup, you’ve gotta apply for Realogy’s FWD Innovation Summit.

There are lots of hackathons and pitch events these days, but FWD is the room you want to be in. There’s a $25,000 prize for the winner, but the big opportunity is getting face time with 200+ executives and decision makers from the world’s largest real estate franchisor.

1000WATT has been involved with FWD since its inception. We’ve seen lots of business opportunities come out of this event.

The deadline to apply is October 1.

Keller Williams bought Smarter Agent. KW seemed to explain this as some sort of defensive move against disruptors or portals.

I don’t know about that.

What I do know is that the biggest impact of this deal is going to be mayhem among the very large number of KW competitors that have built their entire mobile strategy upon Smarter Agent.

Oof. bought Opcity, the lead responding/scrubbing/conversion startup. The Opcity team managed to garner a lot of buzz in just a couple of years, and clearly built a nice business.

I am a little uneasy with the trend toward high-intensity, rapid lead handling, though. Do we really need to bring Maximum Force to bear upon someone who’s just interested in seeing a home, or getting help from a real estate agent?

I called this sort of thing “digital waterboarding” a while back. And I wonder if it won’t come back to bite us in the butt someday.

Opendoor bought OpenListings.

OpenListings is an interesting blend of discount brokerage, menu-of-services brokerage, referral brokerage and online offer service. The web user experience is nicely done. To date, they’ve helped people buy about a billion dollars worth of homes – a respectable but still-small number.

There seems to be a lot of talk about Opedoor creating a cohesive, end-to-end customer experience with this deal. I think that’s jumping the gun a bit.

But… both of these companies have managed to get a good number of people to do things that would have seemed stupid, unreasonable, too hard, too expensive or too reckless even a few years ago.

Opendoor gets people to sell their house online. OpenListings gets people to make offers on houses online. Both are managing to bend consumer behavior enough to make things interesting.

This is the hallmark of change.

Using your phone to summon some strange, unlicensed dude to come pick you up would have seemed nuts 10 years ago. So would have renting out your spare bedroom to a bunch of randos who found it online. Now? Most of us don’t give it a second thought.

What “stupid, unreasonable, too hard, too expensive or too reckless” real estate things will most people do without thinking 10 years hence?

Speaking of deals, Pepsi bought Sodastream, a rapidly growing company that makes it possible for people to make their own soda pop at home, more or less.

Seems really smart, and made me think that we still haven’t seen a big, bold deal like this in real estate. A Unilever buys Dollar Shave Club-type deal. When do we see – just to throw out a crazy example – Berkshire Hathaway (the holding company) buy Redfin?

Feels like we’re overdue for a big move.

Marc and I are going to Hawaii Life’s Worthshop event this December. Please join us. Matt and Winston are great guys, Hawaii Life is a great company and these Worthshop events (this will be their eighth) always manage, somehow, to be both stimulating and relaxing.

Plus, this year’s gathering is going to be at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, a temple of mid-century fabulousness.

C’mon, we’ll buy you a Mai Tai by the pool.

Quicken Loans’ real estate brokerage company, In-House Realty, has rebranded as Rocket Homes. This took longer than I thought it would, but I guess we could all see it coming a mile away, especially after LoanDepot’s launch of Mellohome earlier this year.

Mortgage companies and big banks setting up agent panels to service their qualified borrowers is nothing new. What’s interesting here, particularly with Quicken, is that companies that are truly good at consumer marketing and online user experience are investing in bridging the mortgage/real estate divide.

Waves will be made.

Enjoy the weekend.