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Dec 4 20

I crack myself up

by Greg Robertson

Dec 3 20

Industry Relations Episode 55: Could a Commissions Drop Be Good for Real Estate? – with Jack Ryan of REX

by Greg Robertson
Jack Ryan, CEO of REX

It has come to light in recent days that REX was the ‘power behind the throne’ in the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against NAR (and subsequent settlement). The suit alleged that the trade group’s rules on commissions artificially inflate the fees paid to real estate agents and put illegal restraints on competition in the market. So, what inspired the upstart firm to take its concerns to the DOJ?

Jack Ryan is the co-founder and CEO of REX, the digital alternative to the residential real estate agent. REX uses big data and AI to provide consumers with significant cost savings and improved customer experience. On this episode of the Industry Relations, Jack joins Rob and Greg to explain why REX went to the Department of Justice and address the perception that his team is hostile to organized real estate.

Jack offers his take on why a commissions drop is not bad news, describing his libertarian vision of the future of real estate and how all involved would benefit—including MLSs, brokers, agents, consumers, and communities. Listen in for Jack’s insight on eliminating the friction from the home buying process and find out what would have to change for REX to join the MLS.

What’s Discussed:  

Why REX went to the DOJ with NAR’s ‘illegal restraints’ on competition in the market

What differentiates REX from other residential real estate brokerages

What’s behind REX’s decision not to join the MLS

Eliminating repetitive, standardized activities to make the real estate transaction more efficient

What the REX workflow looks like from a buyer’s perspective

Why Jack is more concerned with changing the system than making money

Jack’s argument that a commissions drop is not bad news

How Jack thinks about eliminating the friction from buying and selling a home

How a seller benefits from working with REX in terms of cost savings and level of service

The perception that REX is hostile to organized real estate and what would have to change for Jack to join the MLS

Jack’s libertarian vision around the future of real estate

How REX’s AI continues to improve and Jack’s intent to make the tech available to other brokers and agents

Connect with Jack:


Connect with Rob and Greg: 

Rob’s Website

Greg’s Website


Rob’s Piece on REX and the DOJ

Video of Jack on Vendor Alley

Jack’s article on Real Clear

NAR Code of Ethics

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Dec 3 20

Looking for a new gig?

by Greg Robertson

Data Quality Analyst – CRMLS

The Data Quality Analyst is an expert in the technical works of MLS data systems, services and support. This is a vital role in the onboarding and data quality maintenance of CRMLS and Datashare systems. Their deep understanding of the MLS operations and data practices are important in order to evaluate and identify data trends to create improvement opportunities.

To find out about this job, and others or to post a position you are looking to fill please visit the Vendor Alley Job Board.

Dec 1 20

Looking for a new gig?

by Greg Robertson

Media Specialist – CRMLS

The Media Specialist is both a social media specialist and a videographer. The Media Specialist will be responsible for crafting and disseminating compelling messaging and multimedia content via digital platforms and social media, including but not limited to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. The Media Specialist will stay abreast of current trends in digital communications and advise the Marketing and Communications team on technologies, platforms, and specific campaign ideas. The Media Specialist will also provide support on a range of related communications tasks, including event support, on an as-needed basis.

To find out about this job, and others or to post a position you are looking to fill please visit the Vendor Alley Job Board.

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.