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Jul 16 19

Apollo 11

by Greg Robertson
Buzz Aldrin

“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

-John F. Kennedy

The audacity. The optimism. Still gives me chills just reading it.

Did I ever tell you the story the day I met Neil Armstrong? I think I did.

Jul 15 19

Industry Relations Episode 37: Inman Connect Las Vegas Pre-Show – RealScout, Opendoor, Redfin and Coming Soon Listings

by Greg Robertson

Fight! Fight! Fight!

We’ve always been told that people love it when Rob and Greg argue.  If that true, then we have one of the best Industry Relations Show ever!

With Inman Connect Las Vegas on the horizon, Rob and Greg are facing off over the trend toward exclusive listings and the new Redfin-Opendoor partnership. What does the development of in-house listing programs mean for the industry? And how will the joint venture with Opendoor impact RedfinNow? Our intrepid hosts have very different answers to these questions.

On this episode of Industry Relations, Rob and Greg are discussing the impact of systematic coming soon listings. Rob makes the argument that widespread adoption will take down the MLS, moving residential real estate to the commercial model. Greg makes the case that pocket listings are nothing new and challenges the idea that the MLS will become a ‘dumping ground’ for properties that haven’t sold privately.

Rob and Greg also weigh in on the new partnership between Redfin and Opendoor. Listen in for Greg’s insight around why the collaboration is a genius move that benefits both parties and learn why Rob sees it as a huge concession on Redfin’s part—a concession that will eliminate their own iBuyer operations in each and every Opendoor market.

What’s Discussed: 

What Rob & Greg are looking forward to most at Inman Connect

Greg’s criticism of Rob’s recent posts on RealScout’s Buyer Graph

Rob’s argument that coming soon programs will take down the MLS

Greg’s counter that exclusive listings are not a new phenomenon

How residential real estate may be moving to a commercial model

Greg’s take on the brilliance of the Redfin & Opendoor partnership

How the new partnership with Opendoor will impact RedfinNow

Rob’s view of the partnership as a concession on the part of Redfin

Connect with Rob and Greg:

Rob’s Website

Greg’s Website


Inman Connect

Notorious R.O.B. Blog

RealScout Buyer Graph


Howard Hanna Find It First

Top Agent Network

Redfin & Opendoor Partnership



Our Sponsors:

Boost Summit

Notorious V.I.P.

Jul 11 19

Redfin and Opendoor – Wonder Twins Activate!

by Greg Robertson

Teke Wiggin for Inman News:

“Hi-tech residential real estate brokerage Redfin is partnering with Opendoor, the private Silicon Valley startup that makes cash offers on homes directly over the internet, in a move that is likely to raise the eyebrows of many competitors in both the traditional real estate and fast-growing online cash offer (or “iBuying”) space.”

So smart. I just love these kind of partnerships. To me it also represents Opendoor fully embracing agents. And I hope it will help more agents to consider what a great tool/option iBuying can be for them and their clients.

“Redfin, which maintains a highly-trafficked home search portal that includes for-sale listings from numerous other brokerages, will also offer special marketing perks on the homes listed for sale by Opendoor that appear on Redfin’s site and apps. The companies will evaluate expanding the partnership to other markets outside of Phoenix and Atlanta.

The partnership looks like a bid by Redfin and Opendoor to jointly counter Zillow Offers, Zillow Group’s iBuyer program, which also lets customers request all-cash offers on their homes over the internet.”

I’ve written about this before. The war between Zillow and Opendoor is one of workflow vs. lead flow. Zillow is obviously winning on lead flow and catching up on workflow. This move by Opendoor (and I expect others) helps them on both sides. Lead flow by putting Opendoor’s “Get a Cash Offer” button on listings (lead flow), and “special marketing” for Opendoor’s own listings on Redfin’s site (work flow – getting homes sold quicker).

“Its integration with Opendoor, however, lets the high-tech brokerage extend instant offers to many sellers whose homes Redfin Now isn’t prepared to buy yet.

Opendoor operates in 20 markets nationwide, while Redfin Now is available in only a fraction as many. For example, Redfin Now currently isn’t buying any homes in Phoenix and Atlanta, the two markets where the Redfin-Opendoor partnership is going into effect.

“Just as traditional agents are our partner for brokered sales our own agents can’t handle, Opendoor is our partner for giving customers reliable, competitive offers on homes we ourselves can’t buy,” said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman in a statement.”

Simpatico baby! Redfin also wins by expanding iBuying services in areas it doesn’t currently cover. I also think that by expanding the number of properties it can extend a cash offer helps them with seller leads as well.

“The partnership demonstrates striking synergies between Opendoor and Redfin that a merger could fully consummate.
Opendoor CEO Eric Wu had kind words for Redfin and wouldn’t rule out a future marriage.

“What I can share is that I’ve known Glenn for years, and I have a great deal of respect for him, and from my perspective, I’m a fan of the product, use the product that’s built, and so in this chapter, we’re focused on the success of this partnership, and we’ll look for ways to deepen our relationship if it’s successful,” he said.”

Inman News was really baiting both Kelman and Wu on this merger question. In my opinion I don’t think a merger would ever happen. We are all still in the first inning of this game.

As I said in the beginning, this to me is the first real deal representing iBuying going “main stream” in organized real estate. While Redfin isn’t your typical broker, it could be the sign of things to come.

The worry I would have at Redfin is if this move would jeopardize any current relationships, à la the RE/MAX kerfuffle around Redfin Direct.

Jul 10 19

Constellation acquires Offrs, SmartZip acquisition also to be announced soon

by Greg Robertson

Inman News:

“Constellation Real Estate Group announced Tuesday that it has purchased data analytics and lead generation company offrs, continuing a running acquisition spree that has seen the software giant pick up firms focused on everything from marketing to mortgage technology.
In a statement Tuesday, Constellation said that offrs (yes, that’s how the company spells its name) “leverages big data and its proprietary machine learning algorithm to predict future home sales and transactions.” Offrs then provides that data to various real estate professionals, including agents and mortgage companies.
Terms of the deal were not made public.”

Spoiler Alert!

I’m also hearing that Constellation is in the late stages of acquiring SmartZip too, which has been looking for a suitor for quite some time. That deal I’m told will be announced shortly. SmartZip had raised over $30M dollars according to Crunchbase.

I have mixed emotions when I hear of companies being acquired by Constellation, because they have a reputation as bottom feeders and founders rarely take any real money off the table.

Jul 8 19

Flexmls is getting fit

by Greg Robertson

We all have (had?) New Year’s Resolutions. The team at Flexmls had one major resolution in 2019, and that was to get their MLS system to shed a few pounds. And unlike me, they are keeping it up.

This video from Flexmls popped in my feed this weekend. It features Char Gust, Vice President of product at Flexmls. The video has some great examples of how Flexmls system is working towards a “less crowded” UI/UX to help MLS system users “streamline their everyday tasks”.

They highlight that they are using “usage data , user feedback and research” to drive these changes. This is exactly the right approach, and they feature some good examples.


Of course such changes don’t come without some peril. We know that people don’t like change, and it seems particularly strong when it comes to their MLS system. Flexmls knows this and promises steady, methodical changes paired with frequent communication.

With increased competition, Flexmls appears to be hitting the treadmill and dropping a lot of pixels, hoping they’ll be the one everyone is looking at when the next big dance comes to town.

Jul 8 19

Do you know who I am??

by Greg Robertson

What an epic fail from Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles cast member Tracy Tutor. She checks all three of the “I’m a pretentious asshole” boxes

  1. Getting hair and makeup done on camera. Check.
  2. Thinks too much of themselves, i.e. “because, I’m a real estate rockstar!” Check.
  3. Thinks everyone should know who she is, “Who the fuck is this? He doesn’t know who I am.” Check!
Jul 7 19

Inman interviews Maëlle Gavet, chief operating officer of Compass.

by Greg Robertson

Inman News:

Gavet spoke at length with Inman about the results of Compass’ technology push, her working relationship with Reffkin, the departure of multiple executives and what exactly Compass has accomplished. Her remarks have been edited for clarity.

Seems that the latest shakeup at Compass was a much bigger thing that I thought. Even some press on The Real Deal on “…tension between CEO Robert Reffkin and COO Maelle Gavet on how to run the company — on everything from decisions marketing strategy to product development.”


Maëlle Gavet:

“To be perfectly honest with you we both very much believe in the fact that a partnership requires some type of debate, this is very important. Robert and I are different people by background, by gender, by approach. We both spent a lot of time building this partnership.”

Translation: We hate each other.


In the internal letter [Reffkin] sent out in January that announced this three-month push, he had said you’re ‘bottom line, responsible for the entire initiative,’ and [Malik] will take the point on product marketing. He also said [Seidman] and [Sirosh] will have delivered everything agents need to bring the core of their business onto the Compass platform. At the end of this push, two of those people are gone and you’ve had your duties shifted. Is it fair to say the push underdelivered in [Reffkin’s] eyes? Is that an uncharitable reading?

Maëlle Gavet:

I understand where you’re coming from, but that’s not exactly what happened. Let me start by talking about the results. I think the results have been good. We have hired close to 200 people in product and engineering since the beginning of the year, which is a big number. We acquired Contactually based out of Washington D.C., which was an important acquisition for us. We started displaying the listing agent on every listing whether or not its a Compass agent. We launched a new geo-agnostic search experience. We revamped entirely our iOS and Android app. We’ve done a lot of things.
It’s actually more because Robert felt that the product and engineering team was on a good track and delivering that he decided he wanted to be more involved in the product.

Really? I mean, really? Since when does the CEO of any company shift their focus on divisions that are “on a good track and delivering” instead of areas that need the most help?

The interview is very revealing. You get a real sense that Compass is in trouble. Maëlle comes across as some sort of corporate robot, which is such the antithesis of the perception of Compass, CEO Robert Reffkin.

The sad part is it’s the same self inflicted wound a lot of leaders make in this space, “over promise and under-deliver.” I also have a feeling that more changes are coming.

Jul 2 19

Join us at Boost- Our MLS Staff Summit!

by Greg Robertson

The idea is simple. I go to a lot of conferences and meetings. And I learn a helluva lot and network with a lot of executives and vendors in the MLS industry. The relationships and learning have served me well throughout my career.

But, I don’t really see a lot of the people that are doing the real work. The support and trainers at MLS organizations and large brokerages that deal directly with agents. So I wanted to create an event just for them. A place they could learn about our products but also meet and develop relationships with other people in the industry that may be doing something similar to them. And I wanted to make it fun. That’s what Boost is all about.

So if you have any support or training staff members you want to show some love, have them join us in Huntington Beach!

The Work:
1. Immersive classes about all Cloud Agent Suite products
2. Presentations and Q&A with W+R support personnel
3. Presentations and Q&A with W+R Designers & Developers
4. Product feedback/enhancement session
5. Membership in online Facebook Group
6. Formal Certification (support/training) on all Cloud Agent Suite Products.

The Fun:
1. Welcome reception
2. Beautiful hotel steps away from the beach (included)
3. Food included (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
4. I heard a rumor that some point we might be on a boat!
5. Team building sessions
6. Cool swag! (of course!)

This event isn’t for CEOs or leadership, but for those in the trenches working with agents in the training and support departments of MLS organizations.

We have already sold over half the tickets. Click here and use the promo code “vendoralley” and save $100. Boost: MLS Staff Summit

Jul 1 19

C.A.R. announces pitch battle at upcoming REimagine conference and expo

by Greg Robertson
Bring it!

California Association of Realtors seeks innovators for competition

“The trade organization announced its “Innovators Workshop” competition Friday, saying in a statement that it wants to solicit transformative real estate ideas from “industry gurus, engineers, software developers, and entrepreneurs alike.” Applicants to the program don’t have to be real estate professionals themselves, but their ideas should fill some unmet need in the industry and “have a value proposition that is easy to understand.”
From the pool of people and groups who apply, C.A.R. will choose six finalists to present at “What’s Next – A Real Estate Tech Challenge,” which will be part of the group’s REimagine Conference and Expo in late September. The finalists will have to try to persuade a group of judges that their ideas are the best ones in the group.”

Inman News

I really love these live “pitch battles”. I did one last year at NAR iOi Summit. Almost like a Shark Tank they really force you to hone your message down meet the time restriction. Plus the questions you get from the judges really help fine tune your messaging. Perfect for a new or newer product you are launching.

Applications for C.A.R. Innovators Workshop are due August 28th. More information can be found here – > Workshop Application

Also if you are interested in NAR iOi Summit, it’s being held in Seattle this year, August 22-22. Deadline for the pitch battle submissions is July 7th. You can find out more information here – NAR iOi Summit

Good luck!

Jun 27 19

Zillow using MLS photos to improve Zestimate?

by Greg Robertson

Zillow Unveils Smarter, More Accurate Zestimate That ‘Sees’ Unique Home Features, Incorporates Greater Real-Time Data

“The Zestimate revolutionized real estate when it launched in 2006, using facts from public records to estimate a home’s value. With today’s update, it can now, in a sense, “see” in photographs features that humans would instantly understand, such as curb appeal and natural light. The new Zestimate uses neural networks and computer vision to distinguish between high and low-end finishes and to incorporate the value of features like updated bathroom fixtures, fireplaces, and remodeled kitchens. The Zestimate also now uses real-time data from for-sale homes, including list price and how long a home has been on the market.”


Very smart. You gotta hand it to Zillow for gaining rights to generate derivative data from MLS photos. I would think that photographers would object to such a use case.