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Jun 28 18

The tangled web of Redfin’s link proposal

by Greg Robertson

Great and detailed post by Andrea Brambila of Inman News.

Redfin wants to change listing displays across the industry

Redfin’s proposal would require every website that gets listings from one of the hundreds of multiple listing services (MLSs) owned by Realtor associations to feature the broker or agent representing each listing more prominently and provide a link back to their brokerage website that search engines can easily understand ….

It would impact big home search sites including Zillow and (which do link back to listing broker sites when links are provided, but often not in a format Redfin says is easily indexed by Google) and even (which itself currently does not link back to the rival brokerages representing listings that appear on its website).

There is so much here to unpack here. What seems like a pretty straight forward proposal on listing attribution is really rife with consequences on many levels. I think Glenn is a bit hyperbolic with many of his statements but do understand Redfin’s frustration.

What I also think should be considered is how listing attribution will be handled with new emerging technologies such as voice search, AR and VR. Yes, these technologies may seem far in the future but any changes to data policy should consider these as well. Andy Woolley moderated a panel at a recent CMLS conference on this very issue.

That being said the issues are complicated. Which leads me to this excerpt in the Inman post.

But that has not stopped Kelman from trying. For the past two years, he’s personally pushed his proposal at NAR’s midyear conference. “If it doesn’t take this time around, I’ll give the same talk next year naked, as a form of protest art,” Kelman quipped after his speech this year.

Glenn might need to get some manscaping done before next May.

Jun 17 18

Flipping the switch

by Greg Robertson

I’ll be in Portland starting Monday late afternoon attending 1000watt’s “Turn On” event. I had a great time at their last event and looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us this year. DM me if you are going to be there.

Jun 14 18

David Charron transitions role at Bright MLS

by Greg Robertson

David Charron, ‘godfather of MLS deal-making,’ steps away from Bright MLS role

In his email to shareholders, Phillips said Charron had approached him “several months ago” to say he wanted to reduce his role at Bright. Phillips praised Charron’s contributions at Bright in regards to strategy development, market expansion and business development.

“David’s contributions to Bright are countless, as are his contributions to MRIS, one of our founders, and to the industry. Throughout his entire professional career, he has brought constructive ideas, clarity and vision to every engagement,” Phillips said.

Asked what he planned to take on next, Charron said, “It was simply time for me to stand down and make way for the next gen leader. Plus this move affords me the opportunity to not only continue to assist Bright but also explore other options if I choose to do so. I have no immediate plans other than to reflect on what we have accomplished and let the next phase come to me.”

David had been talking about this privately for awhile now, but it still pangs a bit. You get the feeling about David that as much you can attribute to him publicly to moving the industry forward, the stuff he has done privately, without receiving any credit, is far greater.

Jun 13 18

Industry Relations: The Dance in DC on Commissions in Residential Real Estate

by Greg Robertson

There was a dance of sorts held in DC on Tuesday, June 5, when the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission hosted a ‘workshop’ to discuss competition in residential real estate. But while NAR and industry players prepared for the fox trot, bringing their best arguments for maintaining the status quo around data access, the DOJ put on a little salsa music and shifted the discussion to commission transparency and coupling.

Rob and Greg are reversing roles this week, as Greg spins conspiracy theories regarding the government’s intentions and the potential consequences of its intervention in the real estate industry. They speak to organized real estate’s nothing-to-see-here approach to the discussion and review the range of views shared in the Developments in Real Estate Fee and Service Models panel.

Greg explains why decoupling would effectively end the MLS, and Rob covers the paper prepared by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggesting conflicts of interest due to coupling. They address who would benefit if buy-side commissions went away, how such changes would impact portals like Zillow, and the surprising number of industry players who support decoupling. Listen in to understand why Rob and Greg are calling for NAR or CMLS to move on this and start leading the dance to develop solutions around commission transparency.


What’s Discussed:


Organized real estate’s nothing-to-see-here stance at the DOJ/FTC workshop

The Developments in Real Estate Fee and Service Models panel

– Reps from Realogy, Purplebricks, Glass House & TRELORA

Greg’s take that the industry was caught off guard

-Prepared for data access and transparency

-Discussion of commissions, decoupling

How decoupling cooperation and compensation would end the MLS

The NBER paper on realtor commissions and conflicts of interest

The theory that real estate commissions are high due to coupling

Rob’s concern that the DOJ has already made up its mind

Why the industry needs to move on commission transparency

Why real estate is the only industry in which the seller pays the buyer’s rep

How the potential changes might impact portals like Zillow

Who would benefit if buy-side commissions went away

The leadership opportunity for NAR, CMLS to address DOJ/FTC concerns

The surprising number of people in support of commission decoupling

Public response to the previous NAR budget transparency discussion


DOJ Residential Real Estate Workshop

Videos of DOJ Residential Real Estate Workshop

Rob’s Blog on the DOJ/FTC Workshop

Brian Boero’s Buzz Saw Blog Post

‘Conflicts of Interest and the Realtor Commission Puzzle’


Our Sponsors:

The Red Dot

Cloud Agent Suite


Connect with Rob and Greg:

Rob’s Website

Greg’s Website


Jun 11 18

John Breault to join Rhode Island State Wide MLS

by Greg Robertson

Rhode Island Association of REALTORS & State-Wide MLS Hires John Breault as Vice President, MLS & Member Services

Breault has been in the real estate industry for 32 years, starting at what was then the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors in Springfield, MA. Since then, he has held numerous positions with several organizations in the real estate industry, with increasing responsibilities spanning both membership and MLS. Most recently, he worked in the capacity of Director of Customer Support and Quality Assurance with MLS Property Information Network, Inc. (MLS PIN) which serves more than 37,000 customers.

In addition to his work with MLS PIN, Breault has been very active at the national level. He serves on two sections of the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS) and is also an instructor for CMLX (Certified Multiple Listing Executive) designation classes, having himself obtained the CMLX1 and CMLX2 designations. Additionally, he is active in the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), where he has been recognized for the past three years for his contributions.


Jun 8 18

FBS adds 8,000 new agents to Flexmls system

by Greg Robertson

Maine Listings and Greater El Paso Association of Realtors select FBS and the Flexmls System.

“FBS’s vision and subsequent product strategy have earned them ​+99% MLS-client retention rates during the last decade​. The ​Spark​®​ API​ powers both the Flexmls Mobile platform and the Spring® MLS consumer portal product. Maine Listings licensed the Spring MLS Portal together with the Flexmls System while GEPAR was already a Spring customer. Excited to have all of the pieces come together with FBS, GEPAR CEO Jason Sanchez says, “FBS has an impressive, proven track record of maintaining great partnerships and delivering innovation that positively impacts the MLS, brokers, agents, and consumers. Their Flexmls System was our choice for a reliable, mobile-responsive, future-built MLS system that would deliver value for our members and their customers, especially in conjunction with Spring.”

Looks like their strategy is working. 8,000 REALTORS is a big chunk.

Jun 7 18

Industry Relations: Backing Up the Zestimate with a Zillow Instant Offer Check

by Greg Robertson

Critics of Zillow bash the accuracy of the Zestimate, but the fact is that a home’s worth hinges on what the market is willing to pay. And with the advent of Instant Offers, Zillow is backing up the Zestimate with a check. Consider the fact that Zillow has a platform to help themselves sell homes quickly and it is easy to see how Instant Offers is a game-changer with the potential to create a ‘market-maker system’ of real estate.

Rob and Greg are back to discuss the recent GeekWire piece on Zillow’s first home purchase in Chandler, AZ. They comment on the irony of the agent’s intention to lean on Zillow for branding as well as the company’s original business model as an auction site. Rob explains the concept of an insta-flip and how it benefits Premier Agents, and Greg offers his take on the one thing that is still missing from the Instant Offers model.

Rob and Greg speak to Zillow’s data around the number of shoppers in a particular zip code and the target market for the Instant Offers model. They address the potential profit Zillow might generate from Instant Offers, the listing lead flow the program will generate, and the possibility of discounted as-is purchases on the platform. Listen in to understand how Instant Offers is likely to foster competition in the space and learn how Zillow continues to change the game of real estate.

What’s Discussed:

Zillow’s first home purchase in Chandler, AZ

The agent’s intention to lean on Zillow for branding

Greg’s questions around double-ending and fees

How Zillow is creating a ‘market-maker system’ of real estate

-Provides mechanism to help sell fast

-Every home could have bid, ask price

Zillow’s original business model as an auction site

The concept of an insta-flip and how it benefits Premier Agents

Greg’s take on what’s still missing from the Instant Offers model

How Zillow’s Instant Offers further validates Opendoor

The target seller for Zillow’s Instant Offers model

How Instant Offers differs from We Buy Ugly Houses

The listing lead flow Zillow will generate through the program

What traditional brokers should do in light of Instant Offers

The potential for a discounted as-is purchase through Zillow

Rob’s insight on the possibility of Zillow offering seller financing

How Instant Offers is likely to foster competition in the space


‘An Inside Look at Zillow’s First Home Purchase’ on GeekWire

‘Opendoor is a Bigger Deal Than Zillow’ in Inman


Our Sponsors:

The Red Dot

Cloud Agent Suite

Connect with Rob and Greg:

Rob’s Website

Greg’s Website



Jun 6 18

The New Cloud CMA

by Greg Robertson

We launched Cloud CMA back in early 2010. And its grown to be one of the most popular 3rd party software applications in real estate. But it was due for a refresh.

Someone once said design isn’t just how a product looks, but how the product works. I think in both cases the new Cloud CMA nails it. We made a short video with a few W+R Studios members responsible for making it happen.

The look and feel of the new Cloud CMA is designed to be new, yet familiar. We know that customers have developed a sort of muscle memory to create reports so we didn’t want to mess with that. Alternatively, customers will be able to switch between the new and “classic” version.

Hi Res version here.

We integrated public record data so that users get a head start creating their CMAs. Using this data to populate key fields for the subject property improves the algorithm to choose the correct comps. We also added the ability to select and de-select comps from the larger expanded map interface.

Hi Res version here.

Most enhancements to Cloud CMA were added to the Customize step, which was getting a bit unwieldy. So we cleaned up the page layout to give users a clean slate to customize their reports.

Hi Res version here.

Of course the UI/UX are important but the output, the printed reports, are what really matters. The key to good reports is a mutual respect between the agent and client. Our design team came up with a brand new default theme called “Modern”. These reports are “sano” as the old surfers say in Huntington Beach, meaning “super clean”. I think the design team has knocked it out of the park. Of course, previous report themes in Cloud CMA will also be available.

All of this was done to match the look and feel of our other products in the Cloud Agent Suite.

We began showing this to agents and MLS executives in Washington D.C. at the NAR Midyear meetings. The response has been phenomenal. MLS providers with site licenses are going to love to be able to show even more value to their members by introducing the new Cloud CMA. As part of the new launch, we re-shot 14 How-to videos for Cloud CMA. You can check them out here. Keep in mind agents will be able to switch back to the “Classic” Cloud CMA anytime they want. So, this along with the new videos will make launching the new Cloud CMA a no-brainer.

We will launching the new Cloud CMA in select markets over the next couple months. We also have the ability to turn on individual accounts, just reach out to Katie if you want, and she will get you up and running.

I was watching Elon Musk speaking to his shareholders yesterday. He began with “this is going to sound cheesy but at Tesla, we build our cars, with love, we really care”. Elon got a bit emotional and went on to say, “At a lot of other companies, they’re built by the marketing department and the finance department. There’s no soul, you know?” I know exactly what Elon is saying.

I know I’m gushing a bit but I’m super proud at everyone at W+R Studios for making this happen. Their dedication, and soul, shows in every pixel.

This is going to be a huge year for Cloud CMA and we are just getting started, we have a few more tricks up our sleeve which I will be happy to share with you next month. Stay tuned.

Jun 5 18

Live Broadcast Links for for the FTC/DOJ “Workshop on Competition in Real Estate Brokerage Industry” meeting

by Greg Robertson

This looks like the page where the links to the live broadcast will be for the FTC/DOJ “Workshop on Competition in Real Estate Brokerage Industry”

I don’t think they will go live till about 10 minutes before the event starts (9AM ET)

Jun 4 18

Down Payment Resource celebrates 10 years

by Greg Robertson

It’s a perfect 10

“Since 2008, DPR has advocated for greater transparency of available down payment help so consumers can evaluate their full range of options. Like tax data, walkability scores and school information, down payment assistance information is another important layer of property data.

Working with MLSs, DPR’s proprietary software flags listings that are eligible for down payment programs. DPR currently works with MLSs representing a diverse array of markets across the U.S.

DPR’s lender tools provide loan officers with transaction-level matching of borrowers, properties and approved programs. DPR’s lender business has grown rapidly as the purchase mortgage market dominated.

DPR’s public website allows homebuyers to complete a self-directed search for down payment help.”

Congratulations to Rob and his team. I understand how hard it is to get this far. What’s great about Rob and DPR is that not only are they building a great company but also the good they are doing for society. John Mosey, CEO of NorthStar said it best….

“Parker Principle #9 coming out of the Inman Disconnect conference earlier this year is for the industry to ‘Fight for more ‘available’ housing.” DPR is a step in the direction of achieving that goal while highlighting the role of the real estate professional as an invaluable and invested resource committed to helping every American become part of a homeownership success story.”

Thanks to Rob and DPR for fighting the good fight.