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Nov 27 20

Invasion of the body snatchers – real estate edition

by Greg Robertson

Interesting perspective from Greg Fischer from a good thread on Twitter.

Nov 27 20

Watch this video

by Greg Robertson

I plucked this video out of a larger post from The Notorious R.O.B. blog, titled REX and the DOJ: Implications for the Future. You should read his entire post too.

The video is a panel from 2019 featuring Ben Harris (who is going to be on Biden’s econ. team and Jack Ryan, founder of REX). It’s over an hour-long but WORTH IT. It really covers a lot and gave me a lot of new perspectives on the recent consumer lawsuits, NAR policy changes due to the DOJ’s lawsuit, commissions, taxes, and housing in general. So if you are recovering from eating too much yesterday sit back and educate yo’ self.

“The times they are a changin’…”

Nov 24 20

CoStar CEO calls Zillow “unethical”.

by Greg Robertson

Great scoop from Brad Inman interviewing CoStar CEO, Andy Florance

CoStar CEO to Zillow: Here we come

“He talked about Zillow founder Rich Barton’s roots disintermediating travel agents (during his time at Expedia). The inference, for the real estate industry, is not new.

“I thought up the Zillow business model years before Zillow did, but thought about it for a couple of days and realized it was unethical.”

How humble of you Andy.

CoStar saying Zillow is “unethical” is like Charles Manson pointing to Jeffery Dahmer and saying, “Well at least I’m not going to eat them!”

Nov 24 20

Does the DOJ/NAR settlement render Moehrl and other pending lawsuits moot?

by Greg Robertson

From Inman News, DOJ-NAR settlement will effectively squash 2 consumer antitrust suits 

“The Moehrl lawsuit has thus been rendered moot. The DOJ has already taken action on the two claims at issue, and it disagreed with Moehrl’s proposed remedy. It’s the rare judge or jury who would choose to second guess the Justice Department and rule that Moehrl’s remedy is the only correct one.
The legal concept here is one of “pre-emption.” The DOJ-NAR settlement works to pre-empt alternative resolutions of the issues common to all three lawsuits: disclosure and rules.
Through this settlement, NAR has succeeded in preserving a vital cog in the housing market’s machine: the ability of buyers to capitalize the cost of real estate services. Only because the seller pays both sides, does the buyer get to include the commission in the amount being financed.  The alternative would be hugely disruptive. “

Interesting take here from Michael Lissack. I’ve spoken to a few people and while some agree it will affect the pending lawsuits it’s not certain how. Maybe it will just put a cap on further damages, or if in doing so will make the lawsuit less lucrative and therefore cause the attorneys to lose interest.

That being said, have to agree with Michael’s last sentiment here…

“A huge market disruption has been avoided. The ability of the marketplace to allow transactions which capitalize the cost of real estate services has been preserved.

It is Thanksgiving next week. I’m giving thanks for NAR. You should too.


Nov 22 20

CoStar set to acquire Homesnap for 250 million in cash

by Greg Robertson

CoStar Group Agrees to Acquire Homesnap, a Digital Residential Real Estate Solutions Provider Used by 300,000 Agents Responsible for More Than Half of All US Residential Real Estate Sales

“Homesnap has great relationships, data, software, and tools for residential real estate professionals that are complementary to our existing offerings,” continued Florance. “The tools and functionality developed by Homesnap for residential property agents, such as lead generation, client collaboration, and digital advertising, have direct applicability to commercial brokers. Our goal is to make these enhanced capabilities available to all of our audiences. Combining forces with Homesnap is also expected to enable us to expand and deepen our collaboration with MLSs nationwide. A very large percentage of CoStar’s clients such as investors, banks, government agencies, appraisers, suppliers, and brokerage firms are active in both commercial and residential real estate, so we believe that they would welcome a more comprehensive solution for their needs across all real estate segments.”

The consolidation trend continues as larger players recognize the power of access to agent tools and partnerships. The deal is listed for $250 million in cash, Homesnap had received at least $32 million in venture capital funding.

No mention of the Broker Public Portal (BPP) by name in the press release. But a huge part of the stated “45%” growth, is due to the participation of MLS providers/brokers across the country, which also gave them access to a lot of top-line revenue via advertising.

The ownership structure of BPP has always been a bit murky to me, but hopefully, those MLS providers and brokers participating in the BPP will get some checks in the mail.

CoStar is essentially a private MLS and exerts massive control of the commercial real estate market. Not clear what CoStar’s play is here, other than diversification, as the commercial market starts to face major challenges due to COVID-19.

Big congrats to Guy Wolcott and John Mazur and the rest of the Homesnap team. From Sawbuck Realty to CoStar is quite a journey. This sale is a testament to their ability to execute on a vision. Well done.

Nov 20 20

NAR apologizes

by Greg Robertson

NAR President Charlie Oppler Apologizes for Past Policies that Contributed to Racial Inequality

“What Realtors® did was an outrage to our morals and our ideals. It was a betrayal of our commitment to fairness and equality. I’m here today, as the President of the National Association of Realtors®, to say that we were wrong,” Oppler said. “We can’t go back to fix the mistakes of the past, but we can look at this problem squarely in the eye. And, on behalf of our industry, we can say that what Realtors® did was shameful, and we are sorry.”

A symbolic, but an inspiring move by the National Association of REALTORS.

Simply put; Without recognition, there can be no reconciliation.


Nov 20 20

DOJ & NAR wrestle over consumer transparency

by Greg Robertson

Andrea Brambila from Inman News, DOJ sues NAR, alleges illegal restraints on Realtor competition

“These NAR rules, policies, and practices have been widely adopted and enforced by NAR-affiliated MLSs, and are, therefore, agreements among competing real estate brokers each of which reduce price competition among brokers and lead to lower quality service for American home buyers and sellers,” the complaint says.

The complaint alleges these “agreements” have a cumulative anticompetitive effect and individually and collectively “unreasonably restrain trade” in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and should therefore be prohibited by an injunction.

The DOJ said that, if approved by the court, its proposed settlement will improve competition in the real estate market, providing consumers with more choices and better service.

Andrea does a great job in the article breaking down the DOJ’s complaints and the settlement provisions. From a high level, I think these are good changes, the more transparency the better. And unlike some of the commenters, I think that this will not push commissions down but force buyer’s agents to step up their game, and start offering a better buying experience with their customers.

Also, bravo for NAR being on top of this. I’m sure that was no small task to arrange these settlements in such a timely manner. People often don’t give credit when credit is due. NAR’s job is to be in the room where it happens and clearly that was the case here.

And like a lot of other vendors I’m pondering how we can make our products and services better serve this new environment.

As an aside, is anyone else wondering why this isn’t more of a national news story? Here’s a screenshot of the real estate section of the New York Times. Nothing.

I had the same thought when the Newsday story broke about the housing discrimination in Long Island. Hell, I thought that was “60 minutes” material.

I guess it’s hard to compete with the chaos surrounding the white house right now. 🤷‍♂️

Nov 19 20

Happy Birthday, Dad.

by Greg Robertson

Do me a favor. If your Dad is still alive, call him, text him, just let him know you are thinking about him, tell him you love him. Have him tell you a story about what he was doing when he was your age. Do it now.

Nov 18 20

Pro tip: Adding your title to your profile image in Zoom meetings.

by Greg Robertson

This tip works for vendors or clients. The situation is that you don’t know what that person does for the company. They may be new or recently promoted, or you just forgot. It happens.

I find it helpful to know the roles of the people I’m speaking with. Are they in charge of membership? A new director? Is that a developer? The finance guy?

So adding a title to your profile is super helpful. That way anyone who mouses over your image on a Zoom meeting can see your name and your role in the company.

In Zoom you can add a title to your name in two different ways.

  1. Just add your title for one meeting only.
  2. Add your title to your profile so it always shows up.

I’m going to focus on #2. Otherwise, you’ll have to reenter your title every time. If you want to permanently add your title follow this instruction.

Click on the gear icon on your Zoom start screen

Click on the “Profile” link on the left-hand column, then click on “Edit My Profile”.

On the next page click on the “Edit” link.

Next, add your title in the Last Name field after your last name. Then click the “Save Changes” button.

This is one of those things that vendors hope clients implement and clients hope vendors implement.

You’re both welcome.

Nov 17 20

Vendor Life

by Greg Robertson

When you lose the deal to another vendor, but you used to work together at another company.