If you haven’t caught our last episode of Industry Relations that just dropped today you hear Rob talk about the desire for industry entities such as NAR to stop the corporate word salad and speak authentically. This conversation made me think about an article and podcast that caught my attention. It was in relation to the letter (email?) Andy Florance, CEO of CoStar, sent regarding a few statements made at NAR NXT. The entire letter is available (and link to the podcast) so you can go read it here at:
In the letter Mr. Florance make a few statements:
He calls out Bob Evans, VP of Industry Relations at realtor.com, for making false statements “that Homes.com was working against real estate agent“.
He (Andy F.) takes full responsibility for CoStar News naming Sitzer/Burnett plaintiff attorney Michael Ketchmark, “newsmaker of the week” and states “It will not happen again.” [Small quibble; Ketchmark was named “Person of the week”]
He also points out the fact realtor.com and the WSJ is owned by the same company and then makes a damn good point. Here’s a quote from his letter:
“Many people mistakenly believe that Realtor.com is part of NAR. In fact, it is not, it was sold years ago and is now owned by News Corp. The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com are sister companies. They work together closely. The folks that call the shots for The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com are one and the same.Letter from Andy Florance, CEO & Founder of CoStar
The Wall Street Journal has been prolifically writing more than most about theSitzer/Burnett class action lawsuit and the NAR defeat. They have published article titles such as “Home Sellers Take On the Realtors Cartel”, “Almost No One Pays a 6% Real-Estate Commission-Except Americans”, “The Upending of One of America’s Most Popular Professions”, “The Way You Pay to Buy or Sell a Home is About To Change”, “Jury Finds Realtors Conspired to Keep Commissions High”, “Real-Estate Commissions Could Be the Next Fee on the Chopping Block”, “Realtors Face an Antitrust Reckoning” and more.“
Zing! Pow! Authentic enough for you yet? Love him or not Andy Florance is not in his box seats, he is on the field, and I’m here for it.
As a prolific player of craps I have an analogy for you. In the game of craps you have the concept of “right way” and “wrong way” bettors. In simple terms “right way bettors” are betting on the shooter, and “wrong way bettors” are betting “against the shooter”. When a hot craps game is going on and a “wrong way bettor” shows up at the table everyone gets pissed off. They think having a “wrong way bettor” at the table brings “bad juju”. CoStar, in my view, has been perceived by the industry as a “wrong way bettor”. This was due to the fact that CoStar’s business model does better with the elimination or neutering of buy side compensation. And guess what? It’s looking like Andy made the right bet.
Here’s the thing as these so called “portal wars” heat up. There are many things that we can argue about regarding the business models of all the portals. Dual agency, agent responsiveness, etc. But the Sitzer/Burnett ruling and all the copy cat lawsuits are making it very clear that the game has changed. CoStar isn’t the wrong way bettor any longer.
We need to move on. CoStar, Zillow, Realtor.com are all going to have to adjust. We as an industry are going to have to adjust.
We aren’t play craps anymore. Feels to me more like poker.