Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Smarter Agent shuts down

Keller Williams is shutting down Smarter Agent

“Smarter Agent, which was founded more than decade ago by brothers Brad and Eric Blumberg in Philadelphia, boasted on its website that it counted approximately 25 percent of the real estate industry among its clients.
That includes more than 3,000 brokerages and 300,000 agents, according to the company. If those numbers are accurate, the end of the platform would create a chasm in the real estate industry when it comes to mobile application services.”

I think this was only a matter of time. As Inman News correctly states this is par for the course when a franchisor acquires technology. Compass with Contactually, RE/MAX with booj and now Keller Williams with Smarter Agent.

Brad and Eric are two of the savviest businessmen and innovative vendors I’ve met. They were the first to give brokers and agents a white label version of mobile apps to help them compete with the larger real estate portals. They (still) own numerous patents on location-based search.

This also opens the door of opportunity for other companies. Homespotter is a good example as it offers not only mobile technology but also the workflow of generating leads. It seems gone are the days of stand-alone apps. Agents are now being pitched the entire solution.

CoStar set to acquire Homesnap for 250 million in cash

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.

NTREIS expands services to Northwest Louisiana

NTREIS Welcomes the Northwest Louisiana Association of REALTORS® as it Expands

With NWLAR, there are 15 diverse REALTOR Association Shareholders in the NTREIS family. The regional MLS contracts with vendors for services and wholesales to the Shareholders who provide direct services to their membership.

John Holley, CEO of NTREIS added, “Our decentralized model is attractive to Associations that wish to provide a high level of REALTOR services to their membership but have another entity to do the heavy lifting of the technology and data services of a multiple listing service.”

Makes sense. Fits NTREIS’ model, plus NWLAR members get to take advantage of NTREIS deep member services. These cross-state consolidations are becoming more common.

Back to the future for Palm Springs MLS members

Palm Springs Regional Association of REALTORS® listened to their members

“VESTAPLUS, the newest MLS system to enter the MLS industry and serving over 20,000 REALTORS® to date, inked a deal to bring back their software to the members of the Palm Springs Regional Association of REALTORS® (PSRAR) due to strong demand from PSRAR subscribers. The MLS/CLAW a luxury MLS services provider in Beverly Hills and Malibu is the provider of VESTAPLUS™. The VESTAPLUS™ software will be delivered via a 3-way agreement between the Palm Springs Regional Association of REALTORS®, The MLS/CLAW and California Regional MLS (CRMLS)”

With CRMLS latest expansion it looks like they have 4 MLS System of Choices: VESTAPLUS, Matrix, Paragon, and FlexMLS. It’s good to be an MLS Vendor these days.

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

Resources:

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:

Cloud MLX

The Red Dot

MoxiWorks/Vector Capital acquire Imprev

MoxiWorks Acquires Imprev, the Best-in-Class Marketing Automation Service

Robert Amen, Managing Director of Vector Capital, said, “We are pleased to support MoxiWorks’ acquisition of Imprev as it continues its relentless focus on its customers, client satisfaction, and deep, cross-industry relationships. Imprev enhances MoxiWorks’ technology and product offering and furthers the company’s ongoing mission to make real estate technology more automated.”

It looks like a classic roll-up strategy from Vector Capital. They first acquire MoxiWorks and now bring Imprev into the fold. I’m just glad no puppies were harmed.

I’ve known Renwick Congdon, CEO, and Founder of Imprev, for a very long time. Renwick is a principled and smart leader and has built an incredible company and team. Imprev’s Renwick’s first software application was as a real estate flyer program for Macs back in 2000 1994 (we were booth neighbors at NAR Annual 1996…time flies). He was one of my first guests on the Listing Bits podcast. Cheers my friend.

CRMLS adds Ventura County MLS to expand services

CRMLS to Expand Footprint to Include Ventura County MLS as Ventura BOD Votes to Participate With CRMLS

“A completed agreement, once finalized, will mean real estate professional users of the Ventura County MLS will have full access to CRMLS’s best-in-class products, services, training, and expanded support hours.
“We look forward to serving the real estate community in Ventura County directly,” said CRMLS CEO Art Carter. “CRMLS has a long track record of excellent service to brokerages across the state, and we’re excited to bring that service to professionals in this area as well.”

CRMLS

I have a feeling that we are going to hear a lot more about CRMLS in the coming months.

Listing Bits Episode 50: The Pioneers of MLS Consolidation – with Brian Donnellan of Bright MLS

“These combinations are fragile. You’re pulling 43 associations together. You’re pulling all these different boards together. You’re pulling all these different things together … so, I suppose you could look at blowing it up and go, ‘Why the hell did you do that?’ [The consolidation of MLSs] was a big deal and was very, very expensive. It really was, both in time and energy and everything involved. But you could also look at it this way: It’s something that had to be done. It really, really did. So, you can take your pain now or later.”

Brian Donnellan is the interim CEO of Bright MLS, a consolidation of nine forward-thinking MLSs in the Mid-Atlantic region that serves 85K real estate professionals and facilitates approximately 250K annual transactions valued at more than $70B. Brian has 13 years of industry experience, serving as CFO and COO of MRIS prior to the merger. On this episode of Listing Bits, Brian shares the challenges of merging different personalities and cultures and explains how the Bright consolidation gave others the courage to follow suit.

Brian also offers insight around the power of relationships in the real estate industry, the factors that influence growing agent attrition, and the value of building a product that helps brokers and agents make better decisions. Listen in to understand why Bright MLS is bringing on new staff from outside the industry and learn how the team’s commitment allowed them to endure criticism during the consolidation and get to a place they can be proud of!

**A quick note, due to a microphone issue the sound quality of this episode isn’t that great.**

What’s Discussed: 

Brian’s background in information systems and public policy

How we underestimate the relationship aspect of real estate

Brian’s insight on the factors that influence agent attrition

How building a better product supports agent production

The challenge of merging the cultures of MRIS + TREND MLS

The distinction among members, customers and subscribers

The rocky start to the process of consolidating Bright MLS

How the Bright team endured the criticism on social media

The value of bringing in new staff from outside the industry

Brian’s pride in Bright’s progress and vision of the future

Resources:

Inman Connect

Teaching Strategies

Homesnap

Tom Phillips

David Charron

Frank Major

Chris Finnegan

Mike DelGaudio

Connect with Brian:

Bright MLS

Brian on LinkedIn

Jim Speer named CEO of newly formed regional MLS.

MLSLI and HGMLS Merge to Form Regional MLS

“he Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, Inc. (MLSLI) and the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service (HGMLS) have merged to form the New York MLS, LLC. The new MLS will consist of approximately 40,000 real estate professionals, serving Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, and Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan and Orange Counties.
….
Jim Speer, the Sr. Vice President of Operations for MLSLI for over 30 years, will serve as Chief Executive Officer for the new MLS. Speer says, “With the alliance of two successful MLSs, members gain entry to a vast selection of integrated technology tools and resources which will better serve their buyers and sellers.”

Combined it looks like the new MLS will be over 40,000 agents. I saw Jim speak at the CMLS conference, along with Richard Haggerty of the Hudson Gateway Assn. where they went over some of the details. While I’m sure there were some bumps in the road (and a few ahead) it really sounded like the process wasn’t overly dramatic for a MLS that size. Big Congrats to Jim, MLSLI and HGMLS.

Southeast Minnesota REALTORS joins NorthstarMLS

Second Largest MLS in Minnesota to Join NorthstarMLS

“SEMR worked with real estate industry consultant Matt Cohen, Clareity Consulting, to help its MLS and Association leadership evaluate strategic options, to research and provide recommendations for addressing concerns, to help educate and collect feedback from broker participants, to engage with NorthstarMLS, and to create a communications plan which will be executed as the MLS operations merge.

“We are pleased to welcome SEMR as a shareholder,” said NorthstarMLS CEO John Mosey. “NorthstarMLS is implementing changes to better accommodate SEMR members’ needs and we expect these will make our service even better for our current customers. We hope that other associations in our multi-state market region can see how committed we are about collaborating to create a more efficient marketplace for our brokers and agents and continue to be open to further dialog on MLS cooperation in any form.”

SEMR serves over 11 counties in Minnesota. Nice win for both groups. Also cool to see a shout out for Matt Cohen in the press release.

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