It’s not complicated
I believe in homeownership. It’s as American as it gets.
And I love the residential real estate profession. It’s an engine of social mobility with few equals in our society, and — despite Mr. Ketchmark’s frequent and unchallenged assertions — hardly the dominion of “corporations.” In a time when economic power is concentrating and consumer choices are narrowing, real estate remains, in comparison, a small business Garden of Eden.
And this “cartel” stuff? Come on. If you’ve ever been to a real estate office meeting, or an association committee discussion, you know this: Being on the same page isn’t exactly this industry’s thing.
So I want the NAR to get its act together in the war of hearts, minds and words to which it has been called. Because it should be winning. But it’s not. It is losing, pathetically.
My guess is that NAR’s interim CEO, Nykia Wright, is smart and tough. It’s why she’s there. But whoever wrote the script for the video she recorded this week should be fired. Whoever let it out the door should be fired. It was factually inaccurate, passionless, defensive and beside the point.
The committee (that’s right, a committee, not kidding) that thought it was a good idea to push ahead this week with the “sixth iteration” of the “That’s Who We R” campaign should be placed in a time out.
I’ve done marketing and strategic communications forever. This shouldn’t be this hard. Michael Ketchmark is dunking on the NAR not because he’s a rhetorical Michael Jordan, but because he’s facing the communications equivalent of the Washington Generals.
Clean house. Bring in the A-Team. There’s too much at stake to continue this way.
Is this mean? Unfair? Harsh? Please. It is the opposite of those things.
I was at the Inman show last week. Good energy. One observation, though: From the perspective of those investing venture capital, and those seeking it, there’s still lots of talk about the “proptech winter” and harsh funding environment. I understand all that.
But I find that many in our industry listen to what VCs say too much. We over-index on Smart Guy talk and on the companies that raise the most money. It’s why, for example, we all thought that ibuying was going to change everything and all offers would soon be cash. Turns out, there was just too much cheap or idle money that needed to go somewhere for a while. We lose perspective easily.
But anyway, my point: Last week I saw more interesting real estate software than I have in years. Bootstrappy people out of nowhere; existing “vendors” with cool product developments; weird stuff with AI that sits on the edge of holy crap that’s amazing and that’s the stupidest idea ever.
The unicorns are gone, but the workhorses are out in force. This is worth paying attention to.
I was talking with a smart industry friend this week who advanced a proposition I can’t get out of my head:
Content will soon be dead.
He explained this dryly, so let me amp it up:
Soon, AI will make SEO word fodder, Instagram reels, Tik-Toks, and the like so easy to create, at scale, that the entire digital world will resolve to a white noise of synthetic, avatar-driven, serpent-eats-its-tail garbage.
I think this is possible, if not likely. And I don’t think it would be all bad, either. Because if this is where we are headed, it will force business people and marketers to find new ways, and new places, to connect. Information bankruptcy, like business bankruptcy, can be constructive.
What do you think?
Bob Hale, CEO of the Houston Association of Realtors, announced that he will retire in 2026.
There’s lots that can be said about this man, but I’ll just say this: Bob has courage.
Here’s a piece I wrote 14 years ago that illustrates what I mean. Bob tried something bold, smart, and risky. He had to roll it back, but he took the risk, and the flak, and kept moving.
Props, Bob. We need more like you.
Enjoy your weekend.
Smart industry takes and creative inspiration.