Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Opendoor weirdness

Friday Flash: The year things got weird

“No, 2019 was the year consumers, also known as people, began to do very strange things in very significant numbers.
Two years ago, many in the industry thought the idea of a home seller paying 7-10% in fees for the privilege of getting a low-ball offer on their home was crazy, a pathway only for the desperate. 
Turns out lots of people were willing to do this in 2019. “

Brian Boero, 1000watt

Over the holiday break, I kept thinking about this insightful post (as usual) from Brian Boero of 1000watt. It pairs nicely with a webinar I did with Tyler Hixson, Opendoor’s Director of Real Estate Partnerships & Strategy.
You can watch the replay of the webinar in the video below. But one of the more “weird” things that came out of the discussion is that a vast majority of consumers were willing to pay the fee from Opendoor AND the agent’s full commission. They saw value in both. They appreciated the certainty and speed that Opendoor provided but also saw value in the guidance they received from their agent.

Think about that. In an age where many business models are trying to push commissions lower, or get rid of them entirely, many consumers are willing to pay more.

The fact that iBuyer offers have gone from “lowball” to fair market value might also be a factor. Here’s a quote from a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

“The new study from Mike DelPrete, a scholar in residence on real-estate technology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, found Opendoor and Zillow typically purchase homes for just over 1%, or around $3,800, less than the value of the home as determined by First American Financial Corp. , a real estate title insurance company.”

These two shifts are more significant than people realize. iBuyers are not an either-or proposition, but something entirely different.

Things definitely got weird in 2019, hell I would include the entire decade. What weirdness this new decade will bring is what I’m excited about.

Back to work.

Industry Relations Episode 41: 10 Defining Moments & Trends in the Last Decade of Real Estate

On January 1, 2010, organized real estate was still reeling from the recession. Dale Stinton was steering the ship at NAR. Zillow was seen as the enemy of the MLS. Real estate software was meh. Agent teams were rare. Nearly all brokerages took a split. Selling your house online seemed outrageous. And we still signed documents in pen.

On this episode of Industry Relations, Rob and Greg are looking back at the last 10 years in real estate. They discuss the passing NAR’s MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy, debating the significance of the office exclusives loophole and how it might lead to government involvement. Our hosts also express their disappointment around the Newsday investigation in Long Island, Testing the Divide, challenging brokerage leadership to make a strong statement against the egregious racism it uncovered. 

Greg and Rob go on to share their top 10 defining moments and trends with the biggest impact on the industry over the last decade, describing how the rise of agent teams, 100% commission brokerages, the iBuyer model and consolidation have transformed organized real estate. Listen in for insight into how NAR’s decision to fund RPR and Upstream changed the way the MLS saw Zillow and explore how the space has evolved from 2010 through the end of 2019.

Editor’s Note: We did record an Episode 40 that was never aired. It was about Policy 8.0 but wasn’t ready before the vote. After the vote passed we decided it didn’t add to anything to the issue.

What’s Discussed: 

NAR’s passing of the MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy

Rob & Greg’s take on the Newsday investigation in Long Island

How the loophole in 8.0 could lead to government involvement

The 10 defining trends/events in the last decade of real estate

  1. The end of poorly designed software
  2. The rise and domination of agent teams
  3. The transition in leadership at NAR
  4. Opendoor pioneering the iBuyer model
  5. Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia
  6. 100% commission brokerages
  7. Consolidation and the influx of capital
  8. The practice of buying agents/agent teams
  9. The mainstreaming of digital signatures
  10. NAR’s decision to fund RPR + Upstream

Connect with Rob and Greg:

Rob’s Website

Greg’s Website


MLS Clear Cooperation Policy

Compass Pre-Litigation Letter to Bright MLS

Bright’s Response to Compass

Newsday Documentary: Testing the Divide

Rob’s Blog on the Newsday Piece

1000watt Article on Real Estate Software

The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller with Dave Jenks and Jay Papasan

Ben Thompson Interview with Rich Barton

Our Sponsors:

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The Red Dot

Compass’ COO Maëlle Gavet Out

Compass’ COO Maëlle Gavet set to leave company next week

“Gavet’s departure comes one week after the company confirmed its head of communications Jason Post would be leaving to take a new job at Google. Gavet will be with Compass until Oct. 4 as part of her transition.
Reffkin announced Gavet’s departure on Tuesday in a companywide memo. “

I hate being right all the time.

Inman interviews Maëlle Gavet, chief operating officer of Compass.

Inman News:

Gavet spoke at length with Inman about the results of Compass’ technology push, her working relationship with Reffkin, the departure of multiple executives and what exactly Compass has accomplished. Her remarks have been edited for clarity.

Seems that the latest shakeup at Compass was a much bigger thing that I thought. Even some press on The Real Deal on “…tension between CEO Robert Reffkin and COO Maelle Gavet on how to run the company — on everything from decisions marketing strategy to product development.”


Maëlle Gavet:

“To be perfectly honest with you we both very much believe in the fact that a partnership requires some type of debate, this is very important. Robert and I are different people by background, by gender, by approach. We both spent a lot of time building this partnership.”

Translation: We hate each other.


In the internal letter [Reffkin] sent out in January that announced this three-month push, he had said you’re ‘bottom line, responsible for the entire initiative,’ and [Malik] will take the point on product marketing. He also said [Seidman] and [Sirosh] will have delivered everything agents need to bring the core of their business onto the Compass platform. At the end of this push, two of those people are gone and you’ve had your duties shifted. Is it fair to say the push underdelivered in [Reffkin’s] eyes? Is that an uncharitable reading?

Maëlle Gavet:

I understand where you’re coming from, but that’s not exactly what happened. Let me start by talking about the results. I think the results have been good. We have hired close to 200 people in product and engineering since the beginning of the year, which is a big number. We acquired Contactually based out of Washington D.C., which was an important acquisition for us. We started displaying the listing agent on every listing whether or not its a Compass agent. We launched a new geo-agnostic search experience. We revamped entirely our iOS and Android app. We’ve done a lot of things.
It’s actually more because Robert felt that the product and engineering team was on a good track and delivering that he decided he wanted to be more involved in the product.

Really? I mean, really? Since when does the CEO of any company shift their focus on divisions that are “on a good track and delivering” instead of areas that need the most help?

The interview is very revealing. You get a real sense that Compass is in trouble. Maëlle comes across as some sort of corporate robot, which is such the antithesis of the perception of Compass, CEO Robert Reffkin.

The sad part is it’s the same self inflicted wound a lot of leaders make in this space, “over promise and under-deliver.” I also have a feeling that more changes are coming.

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