Real Estate Pandora

I took part in a radio interview yesterday. The interviewer sent me some questions in advance.

We never got to any of them. But one really stood out and beckoned me to respond:

How might Google upend the real estate Industry?

Of humans

I exited the Fremont Theatre last weekend readjusting to life in 2D. Having spent the last three hours on Pandora, the bright incandescent lighting of Monterey Street required a visual as well as mental correction.

James Cameron’s Avatar is the Star Wars of my eight year-old’s generation. His feelings were summed up in one comment: “dad, this was the best movie I’ve ever seen.”

I agreed. When you bake a killer love story featuring a 10-foot, blue-skinned, sapient runway model into the sci-fi genre, zap it with unearthly special effects and allow the oppressed to triumph over the oppressors, well” it doesn’t get much better than that for me.

“Sure dad” my son said. “Whatever that means.”

I thought about sharing the truly tangential take fluttering around in my head. But I figured he had better things to think about than real estate.


This fictitious planet is home to a group of indigenous “savages” who reside above the richest deposit of the most sought after mineral in the universe. The humans refer to it as unobtainium. The Na’vi (the “savages”) regard it as part of the bio-botanical network that connects everything on the planet.

Not that dissimilar from agents and brokers, whose unobtanium is known as listings.

The RDA Corporation are the outsiders. Unwanted interlopers. Humans. They stop at nothing to access Pandora’s riches. When political measures fail, they employ brute force.

Not that dissimilar from the many outsiders who apply their own version of force to displace or leverage agents and brokers in order to acquire their riches.

RDA’s assault is met head-on by the savages, who are armed with simple wooden bows and arrows of sharpened bone dipped in poison. Not much in the way of sophistication against the RDA’s mighty armor.

Despite the RDA’s rockets, their red glare, and the fiery bombs bursting in air, the Na’vi prevail.


Real Estate’s Pandora

When my eight year old gets older, I will explain to him how resilient the real estate industry is. Like Pandora, its ecosystem is every bit linked to a vast energy field spanning its surface. Its strange neural network of agents, brokers, associations, and MLS’s – savages to outsiders – is possessed of seemingly primitive defenses with strange power.

You are impenetrable. Legions of MBA’s and VC’s have fallen before you.

History has proven it. Every RDA-Corp like entity that loomed large off real estate’s shores has eventually sunk.

The silhouette on the horizon that is Google will be no different. It will, like an Avatar, jump you, knock you down and try to concur but you will dock with it. And absorb it into the magical collective matrix that is the real estate industry.

If I were James Cameron, this is the real estate story I would tell.