Picking up real estate's Slack

You may have seen this tweet circulate this week:

Inbox zero

I fall firmly in the former camp. No email goes unread. But I still hate it. As I wrote in a previous post, I dread opening Gmail every morning.

But amidst my inbox despair, there lies hope.


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A few months ago, we moved all of our internal 1000WATT conversations over to Slack. It’s been nothing short of transformative.

Slack, if you haven’t heard, is a new product from one of the co-founders of the photo-sharing site Flickr1. It’s essentially a mashup of IRC chat rooms, an instant message client and a file-sharing tool.

In short, you create a channel around any particular topic – at 1000WATT we have channels for every client and project, for example – and invite people into those channels. Once a channel has been established, a discussion can take place and people can jump in and out of threads as needed. Files are shared, feedback is gathered, all in real-time. Everything is indexed and searchable, so nothing is ever lost.

Best of all, the conversations and files are instantly available on every device I own as the service is inherently mobile.

Slack has helped us effectively kill intra-company email. Seriously. Think about that for a second. In the span of four weeks, my inbox has shrunk perceptively. We’ve connected our three offices in Portland, Oakland and Florida, and brought all of us closer together than we’ve ever been.

Of course, this has me thinking about how the same mechanism could and should be applied to the real estate transaction.

When I think of all the people involved – from the buyers and sellers, to the Realtor and broker, to the lender, appraisers and title/escrow officer – real estate is crying out for a platform like Slack.

Imagine a product that handles all the communication between parties, from the heavy collaboration that happens at the front-end of the home search process, to all the back and forth that happens after an offer has been made and accepted. And it stores all the documents that are involved along the way.

We’ve seen attempts at tackling parts of this idea, from the ill-fated Buyfolio (RIP) to dotloop, which has been on a roll lately.

Still, weaving together the entire span of a home purchase from top to bottom into a single stream of information is still not quite a reality.

I believe there’s a golden opportunity here for someone to step forward and save us from ourselves and our inboxes when we’re in real estate transaction mode.

Personally, I’m hoping this exists the next time I buy a house. I’m not sure I can go back to Gmail.

[Full Disclosure: 1000WATT has performed services for dotloop.]


1 If you’re interested in hearing more about the history of Slack and its development – I’d highly recommend listening to this interview with Stewart Butterfield on the 16z podcast.