Thursday morning buzzkill


This message appeared atop my search results page on I had wanted to see what was on the market in my area of Oakland. Homes here go for anywhere from $750,000 to $1,500,000. It’s a market with several upscale boutique brokerages and a few national brands, some of which are positioned as high-end.

And yet, this. After twelve years of online home listings. After study after study and speech after speech exhorting Realtors to produce multiple photos for their listings. In a buyers market where every little thing counts to move a home. Amidst a maelstrom of consumer skepticism about Realtor value.


There are a few things that should happen here:

  • 131 sellers whose homes are poorly marketed should fire their agent immediately and contact one of the 61 that do have multiple photos or tours on their listings. How can 6% ever be credibly defended when this sort of incompetence prevails?
  • The brokerage houses whose brands adorn these single-photo listings should simply pack it in because they fail – even as their financials bleed red — to require their agents to execute on the most basic tasks of merchandising their listings.
  • The 131 agents or brokers who did not add more than one photo should be forever barred from complaining about the online innovators who have picked up the opportunities the traditional industry has been leaving on the table for the past ten years.

What a downer. I get tired of seeing failures like this. I want to talk about – to celebrate – the successes our industry marks as it wakes from its boom market dream and meets new challenges with courage and innovation. But for every one of these gains, I’m slapped with ten blunt edged realities like this.

I hope the shakeout comes soon. I hope the legions of part-timers and opportunists exit the business quickly. I hope more brokers muster the courage to cut loose the friends and family agents who bring them two deals a year and fat splits, but poison the well for their brand and all the practitioners who get it.

This industry can’t sustain this level of incompetence much longer.

Is there a silver lining here? Yes, but it’s not grasped easily. It will take work. But the fact that things are so bad does present a big opportunity for a new or existing brokerage willing to do things differently.

Like enforcing some basic standards:

  • A minimum of 12 photos on every listing, with a minimum of two for each room
  • A professionally produced short video on every listing
  • Online and local newspaper advertising for every listing highlighting these features, not the agent
  • Professional merchandising and staging counsel from an in-house designer
  • Syndication of every listing to every significant home or classifieds site, industry politics be damned

I can envision the ad campaign in my local paper promoting this. "Oakland Hills homeowners, here is our promise to you" … a real promise. One that is met. That differentiates. That elevates the firm willing to do this above the mire of debility that curses this noble industry.

Brian Boero