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Aug 24 18

RIP Senator John McCain

by Greg Robertson

I don’t get too political on my blog, but I thought I would share this Twitter thread from Benjamin Wittes. I’ve made it a bit more readable below.

I want to tell a story about John McCain–a story that took place at the Polish embassy, back when Poland was still a committed democracy of the sort that would host a book party for the release of @anneapplebaum’s book, “Gulag” (which you should read).

Anne will correct me if I am misremembering the details here–as it’s been a few years. But McCain, as I recall, introduced Anne to the assembled audience, which included a large number of Gulag survivors.

His short speech moved me as much as any other speech–on any subject–I have ever seen a politician give. For starters, he had clearly read the book (you should too)–which is a bit of a project. Gulag is long. It is exhaustive. And it is brutal and unsparing.

While McCain had many thoughts about the book, he said that the part that really hit him in the gut was Anne’s description of prisoner tapping codes–by which prisoners would tap on cell walls in specific patterns to make out letters to communicate with those in adjacent cells.

He described the code as Anne portrayed the Gulag prisoners using. And then he described the modification that he and his fellow prisoners used–the Cyrillic alphabet being somewhat different from our own. Then he paused and said that he still dreamed in that code sometimes.

And then he tapped.

The room was silent.

It’s been 15 years since this happened, and as I say, I could be misremembering details. I suspect, however, that I am not the only person who recalls vividly being stunned by this speech. I have never heard another politician give a speech like that.

That’s all I got.

I disagree with our president. I think John McCain is a national hero. Rest in peace.

Aug 23 18

MRED launches new website

by Greg Robertson

Midwest Real Estate Data launches new website’s new look is thoughtfully organized, prioritizing easy access to the MLS and providing quick links to the extensive support and services available. Visitors will also enjoy prominently displayed access to training courses and rotating spotlights on new products in MRED’s ever-increasing list of helpful offerings for its customers.

“Our customers deserve the best, and that’s what we aim to provide in every aspect of what we do,” said MRED President/CEO Rebecca Jensen. “This website redesign was truly done with agents in mind to make their daily lives easier and we couldn’t be happier with the end result.”

They did a great job with this. The top nav was way too cluttered in the past and the whole site had a early 2000s feel to it. Another thing I wanted to highlight was their logo refresh. I’ve put the old and new logo together for comparison.

I think this was incredibly well done. They already had a recognizable logo, so really no need to create something brand new. Taking away the gradient and changing to font (Gotham) gave it a more modern feel. Plus the rounded corners to the star box give a hint of an “app”. Sometimes little things can make a big difference.

Aug 21 18

Please help Kevin and Ibby

by Greg Robertson

The Greenes need our help

“On July 20th, Kevin & Ibby’s 13-year-old son, Lockwood, woke up with a low-grade fever. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, the fever didn’t abate and Lockwood’s health deteriorated significantly. After being admitted to the hospital in Greensboro, Lockwood’s vitals went south quickly and he alternated between skyrocketing blood pressure to a near cardiac arrest event.

After he was temporarily stabilized in Greensboro, a decision was made to rapidly transport Lockwood to Duke’s Pediatric ICU in Durham, NC for specialized treatment. Admitted to the Duke Medical Center Pediatric ICU in early August, Lockwood was finally diagnosed with atypical Kawasaki disease. This virus-based disease is vicious as it attacks the coronary system with devastating short & long-term consequences.

Lockwood is by no means out of the woods yet and will be at Duke for a minimum of two more weeks if not carrying through the month of September. The Greene family is facing a long road to recovery including a new normal facing their family of five.

Any help is welcome and truly appreciated. “

A lot of us has been following Lockwood’s progress on Facebook and know its been a rough ride for both Kevin and his wife Ibby. I can’t imagine the ups and downs they have been going through as parents. I’m sure any support would be appreciated.

Please visit their GoFundMe page by clicking the link below:

GoFundMe -> The Greenes need our help

Aug 15 18

Industry Relations Episode 27: Building the Quintessential Technology Platform for Real Estate

by Greg Robertson

Perhaps the most compelling piece of theatre in recent real estate history, Gary Keller’s interview at the Inman Connect Conference laid out his argument around the future of the industry. Keller’s approach is to own his own data and develop a software platform unique to Keller Williams, and a number of other franchises are buying up technology companies in order to build their own exclusive data platforms. But is this obsession with technology and controlling the data distracting brokerages and franchisors from what really matters?

Rob and Greg are on the line to discuss real estate technology and data ownership. Greg explains W+R’s focus on creating a kickass experience for agents and consumers alike and describes the company’s approach to aggregating data rather than trying to build a proprietary platform.

Rob and Greg cover the growing competition in real estate software and address who is responsible for providing agents with a technology suite. They debate the merits of designing an exclusive platform versus integrating franchise data with a particular software package to create a custom data solution. Listen in for insight around the US vs. THEM mindset around building technology and learn why Rob and Greg are calling for a renewed focus on agents—and giving them the tools to shine!

What’s Discussed:

The overarching theme of the 2018 Inman Connect conference

Gary Keller’s aim to create his own ‘platform for innovation’

How W+R seeks to democratize the iBuyer experience

The role of AI and machine learning in a technology platform

W+R’s approach to making data useful for the end user

Greg’s take on the notion of data ownership

How Zillow has evolved to generate its own data 

W+R’s focus on improving an agent’s listing presentation

Cloud Investor Connect’s value prop for investors

– High intent, high volume

Who is responsible for providing agents with a tech platform

The consistent improvement of real estate software

The opportunity to integrate software with franchise data

The MLSs role as a tech platform vs. data provider

The definition of a technology platform as an end-to-end solution

Rob’s insight around focusing on the agent rather than technology


Cloud Agent Suite

The Red Dot


Inman Connect—San Francisco 2018

Rob’s Gary Keller Blog Post

Gary Keller at Inman Connect

Cloud Investor Connect


RE/MAX Q2 Earnings Call

Tom Ferry Show





Brad Inman’s Tech Platform Opinion Piece

The Red Dot

Cloud Agent Suite

W+R Studios

Connect with Rob and Greg:

Rob’s Website 

Greg’s Website 

Aug 13 18

Boost-The MLS Staff Summit -Few tickets left

by Greg Robertson

We’ve only got a few tickets left for our first annual MLS Staff Summit.

More details can be found here.

Boost – The MLS Staff Summit

Aug 11 18

Whistleblower claims RPR’s code is “very fragile” and “garbage”

by Greg Robertson

Andrea Brambila writing for Inman News

Former contractor launches crowdfund campaign to sue RPR

“He worked on RPR’s core platform — the property database — not Upstream, but chuckled upon hearing that one reason RPR was chosen as the vendor for Upstream was because the company planned to build on its existing technology to create Upstream.

“They had to start from scratch because they couldn’t use a lot of the code from RPR because it was so bad,” Komar said, noting that that was likely a reason for Upstream’s delayed launch.

RPR’s technology is “very fragile” due to its “poorly architected system” and “poorly written” and “non-optimized” code, according to Komar.

In his opinion, RPR would have no chance of selling the platform. “Anyone who did their due diligence would give them a failing grade,” he said.”

I tell you who’s not “chuckling”, NAR members. Over 230 million dollars later, RPR and Upstream have both crossed over and have become Greek Tragedies at this point. Somebody should write a book.

Aug 10 18

Industry Relations Episode 26: Reframing the iBuyer Phenomenon

by Greg Robertson

Today’s consumer is used to pushing a button and having magic happen. (Thank you for the insight Jeremy Waxman.) And more often than not, we are willing to pay an extra fee for things like convenience and certainty. For this reason alone, the iBuyer phenomenon is here to stay, and the real estate industry would do well to consider how traditional agents might participate in the changing market.

Rob and Greg are back to offer a different perspective on the iBuyer movement, discussing how the industry is misunderstanding the phenomenon. Greg explains how organized real estate might address the consumer experience by partnering with a large financial institution to ‘be the bank’ and Rob shares his take on FSBOs and iBuyers as opposite ends of a spectrum—with the traditional REALTOR experience in the middle.  

Rob and Greg address fiduciary duty, describing the conflict of interest that occurs when agents have the capacity to make on offer on a prospect’s home. They cover the difference between iBuyers and traditional house flippers, describing the considerable capital behind companies like Offerpad and Opendoor and the significance of Zillow’s recent acquisition of a mortgage lender. Listen in for insight around iBuyers moving into high-dollar markets and learn how agents fit into a future world where iBuyers are the default.

What’s Discussed:

How the industry is misunderstanding the iBuyer phenomenon

-Intention to change process of buying/selling home

-Company to figure out user experience wins

How MLS and association execs might consider the agent experience

Greg’s proposal around NAR partnering with a financial institution

Rob’s prediction that the iBuyer movement is here to stay

The conflict of interest agents face in offering to buy a client’s home

Rob’s take on FSBOs and iBuyers as opposite ends of a spectrum

-Working with REALTOR = middle ground 

The potential ‘buyification’ of the brokerage business

Why iBuyers are not as vulnerable as traditional house flippers

The significance of Zillow’s acquisition of Mortgage Lenders of America 

The tipping point when iBuyers become the default for consumers

The significance of iBuyers moving into high-dollar markets

The value in agents learning to pitch investor offers to sellers


Cloud Agent Suite

The Red Dot


Rob’s iBuyer Blog Post

Denee Evans on Listing Bits

Zillow’s Q2 Webcast

Cloud Investor Connect

Inman News: Agents can show sellers iBuyer offers with new Cloud CMA feature

Brad Inman: In real estate’s tech platform race, I’m betting on an underdog

Connect with Rob and Greg:

Rob’s Website 

Greg’s Website 

Aug 8 18

Tom Ferry partners with Contactually for the “Tom Ferry CRM”

by Greg Robertson

Via Inman News

Real estate coach Tom Ferry launches ‘The Hub,’ a CRM and tech suite

“Ferry’s new set of products is called The Hub. The suite includes the new CRM, a referral network informed by an algorithm, video role plays to practice different situations in real estate and tools for business planning and activity tracking.

The main innovation of Ferry’s CRM — appropriate for his role as chief real estate coach — is that it allows real estate coaches to log on and see a version of the CRM with personal client information stripped away to track how their real estate agent clients are doing.

That anonymized view allows coaches to directly see what their agents are doing instead of relying on what agents tell them.

Besides that, the Tom Ferry CRM shares most of its features with Contactually’s other CRMs.

“We’ve been providing the system, the tech part of it. Now what this does is marry that with the coaching side of things,” Contactually CEO Zvi Band told Inman.”

Really, really smart. By blending what Tom Ferry does so well with what Contactually does so well they have created a truly unique experience/product.

The issue that companies like RE/MAX and Keller Williams are going to face is that real estate software is getting better. And franchisors are going to have to compete with solutions like this. With adoption of franchisor provided technology hovering between 8%-10%, and 3rd party software getting better, I don’t care if you call yourself a “technology company” or not, adoption is going to be tough battle.

Congrats to Tom Ferry and big congrats to Zvi and the amazing team at Contactually. Love the innovative thinking behind this effort.

Aug 7 18

BOOST – The MLS Staff Summit

by Greg Robertson

W+R Studios is hosting the “BOOST-MLS Staff Summit“. Join the crew at W+R Studios for 2 days of intensive Cloud Agent Suite learning, networking, and training on how to Boost your MLS career. We’ll take care of room and board so get your ticket and yourself to Huntington Beach and we’ll handle the rest!

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

Boost is hosted by W+R Studios, the creative team behind Cloud CMA and we believe in working hard and having fun. 😃

All that’s required is to buy a ticket. Room and board are on us! Plus we promise to keep you entertained.

Tickets are very limited. To order tickets or find out more information please click the link below:


Aug 7 18


by Greg Robertson

My thanks to ShowingTime for sponsoring Vendor Alley. ShowingTime is the Showing Management and MarketStats technology provider for 900,000 real estate agents in more than 250 MLSs.

MLSs, listing offices and agents that use ShowingTime make it easy for agent to schedule showings. Their MarketStats product hailed as “The best in the country in showing statistics”, by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of REALTORS(R).

Recently they added a new sales executive, Maria Burud. Maria joined the company as their Senior Vice President of Sales. Previously Maria worked at ADP, Infinium Software and Placeware. You can read more about Maria here. Welcome to the industry Maria!

Thanks again to Michael and Scott for your sponsorship.