The real estate Value Crisis

“She had a very thin face like the dial of small clock seen faintly in a dark room in the middle of the night when you waken to see the time and see the clock telling you the hour and the minute and the second, with a white silence and a glowing, all certainty and knowing what it had to tell of the night passing swiftly on toward further darkness, but moving also toward a new sun.”


— Ray Bradbury, Farenheight 451



I thought of this passage when I read Matt Carter’s fantastic reporting on a South Carolina brokerage that dropped its affiliation with the NAR.

If you have not read the story on Inman News, please do so. It’s rich — filled with speculation, irony and internecine slashing.

And it underscores something really big: the real estate industry is in the increasingly acute stages of a Value Crisis. One that’s been building for years but seems to be coming to a head with each passing minute on the metaphorical clock.

The NAR. Franchisors. Big brokers. Agents.


They once had their value prop dialed in. Now they’re disconnected, wondering how it is they’ll ever recapture the days when self-justification wasn’t Job One.

Many will fail. Maybe most. Reading Matt’s article, which described in detail a local Realtor association’s struggle to deliver value to members, I could not for the life of me come up with a single idea for how they might recapture what they had let slip away.

And that’s OK. I sometimes think that for all the agony and tragedy around housing lately, too few industry players have reached the endgame.

A new sun

We’ve spent the past few years working with companies in this business that have stared into the clock on murderous midnights and seen only further darkness. Our job was to help them seen the new sun.

It’s not easy. And, honestly, we’re not the ones who do the hard parts. But what we can do is provide the analysis, the validation and the creative juice to see clients through the night.

Risks – some mortally threatening – must be taken. Things must be broken. People will be made uncomfortable. The possible failure of what is new must be accepted to avoid the nearing and certain failure of what is old.

Sometimes it’s not possible. There’s just nothing there. No brand. No team. No vision. Just a cube farm and a logo. We’ve learned to walk away from those engagements.

But often, there is something there. An idea that lost its edge but can be sharpened; value that got diluted with growth but can still be distilled; people willing to punch their way through a hundred meetings to greet, tired but standing, a new day.

So out with the old, the bad, the tired and timid. Fast, please. And in with those who stand to inherit this banged up, beautiful business.