Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Authenticity, CoStar and the craps table.

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.

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.

Letter from Andy Florance, CEO & Founder of CoStar

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.

“7 OUT!”

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.

Listing Toolkit review with Cloud CMA integration

Listing Toolkit by Realtor.com is a surprisingly valuable, lightweight marketing solution: Tech Review

“Listing Toolkit is a resource for agents to attract more seller clients and uncover buyers seeking their homes, among other benefits. It’s for those with Realtor.com Pro accounts and has a full integration with Lone Wolf’s Cloud CMA to quickly build dynamic presentations that can be juxtaposed with a wide range of buyer traffic data to demonstrate demand across the entire Realtor.com coverage area. It enables quick property advertising campaigns and allows for self-promotion and branding using Realtor.com’s UpNest product suite, which allows for paid increases in reach. Overall, the experience is supported by a modern, consumer-facing UI and should pose little challenge to learn. It could be a nice value-add to the tech stack of agents with reasonable marketing budgets, and a good use of time for small, tech-forward brokerages and teams with marketing staff.

Craig Rowe for Inman News

Good write up from Craig. As I’ve written about before I think the realtor.com team did a great job with Lone Wolf with the integration.

Realtor.com partners with Lone Wolf to add Cloud CMA integration to its new “Listing Toolkit”

New integration connects Realtor.com®’s Listing Toolkit and Cloud CMA by Lone Wolf.

Lone Wolf teams up with Realtor.com® to bring exclusive buyer reports to over 500,000 real estate agents

“Realtor.com®‘s Listing Toolkit, which is currently available for purchase across the country, helps agents win and sell listings, from elevating their brand to sellers and identifying matching buyers to promoting listings leveraging Realtor.com®‘s consumer audience. The integration with Cloud CMA means mutual users can add several premium report pages to their CMAs, including Realtor.com® reports with insights into matching buyers and buyer demand to showcase deeper market intelligence to prospective sellers.”

Via PR from Lone Wolf

This was one of the last things I worked on before I left Lone Wolf, and probably the most exciting.

Adding buyer demand data to Cloud CMA reports was just a no-brainer. Doing a listing presentation and ending with, “and I have 5 buyers I could contact right after this that are looking for a house just like yours” is a great way to help agents win more listings.

A couple of things to note. First I was super proud Realtor.com had chosen Cloud CMA. I was told they did a ton of research and in the end it was super obvious that Cloud CMA was the best choice to add as a partner. This is not only a testament to the product itself but all the MLS organizations that have supported Cloud CMA for so many years. Also, I was super impressed with design and development team at Realtor.com. The men and women on these teams were some of the best designers and collaborators I’ve ever worked with. Many thanks to Mohammed, Faisal and the rest of the team.

Lastly I just love the level of partnership here between these two vendors. Having been a part of the process I know that it took a little give and take, but ultimately both sides can be really proud of the work.

CoStar won’t buy realtor.com

CoStar will not acquire portal Realtor.com after all

“During Tuesday’s investor call, Florance compared CoStar’s portal ambitions to the choice consumers face between buying a home verses building something new. But thanks to what Florance described as Homes.com’s success with traffic, and its positive reception within the real estate industry, CoStar has apparently settled for now on the building, rather than buying, strategy.

We feel we have a unique offering on the organic side that no one else is offering out there,” Florance said at another point during the call.

Tuesday’s earnings report states that Homes.com now has more than 20 million unique monthly visitors.”

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, remember when CoStar was going to buy CoreLogic? Good times.

Ultimately this was a head-scratcher anyway, how was CoStar going to manage two brands? Rob and I went over this on an episode of Industry Relations.

I love the optimism here from Andy, but Realtor.com traffic is roughly 5 times that of Homes.com, and Zillow is 10 times that of Homes.com. I still can’t believe Andy’s grand plan is to “beat Zillow”, especially organically. I keep believing there has to be something else…some other plan yet to be revealed. Beating Zillow seems like a fool’s errand.

As a wise man once said, “never get involved in a land war in Asia.”

Industry Relations podcast: CoStar Buying Realtor.com Rumors

There’s been a lot of talk lately about CoStar buying Realtor.com. Will it happen or is it just a rumor? What advantages would CoStar have if they do acquire Realtor.com? With a history of bold predictions and Nostrodamus-like moments, Rob and Greg share their thoughts on what’s most likely to happen. Find out why Rob believes multi-brands aren’t a good thing and Greg shares how this could help with CoStar’s SEO. Lots of thought experiments in this episode as they unravel the rumors behind CoStar’s purchase of Realtor.com.

Watch us on YouTube!

Connect with Rob and Greg: 

Rob’s Website

Greg’s Website

This podcast is produced by Two Brothers Creative 2023.

Industry Relations Podcast: Making Better Agents and Listings

Ever wondered how to get the most out of your listings and become a better agent? In this episode, Rob & Greg touch on the different technologies and marketing strategies that agents can use to get an edge in sales. Tune in for why Rob believes great photography is the best way and why Greg thinks it’s just putting lipstick on a pig and pricing is the best strategy.

UPDATE 1-26-2023

A representative of Homes.com has reached out and said that the new version of their website has rolled out and has been live for the last couple of months.  Though there has been no industry-wide notification and they have still yet to launch any of their much-touted “listing enhancement” products.   The new site features include:

  • Completely new tech stack with noticed speed improvements
  • Historical AVM chart with three models + average
  • Deeper set of property characteristics from MLS, 
  • New design, 
  • IDX data via Ten-X in 460+ MLS markets (no more supplemental data via ListHub)
  • New agent search with updated agent profiles (includes transaction history)
  • New Homes Pro dashboard for agents on the back end (full integration with Homesnap Pro), and agent-client instant messaging for collaboration

Watch us on YouTube!

Connect with Rob and Greg: 

Rob’s Website

Greg’s Website

This podcast is produced by Two Brothers Creative 2023

CoStar to purchase Realtor.com?

News Corp in Talks to Sell Real Estate Site For $3 Billion

“Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is in talks to sell its Move Inc. online real estate business to CoStar Group Inc.

Move is the parent of Realtor.com and other real estate-related websites. The deal is worth about $3 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The sale could be announced within days, one of the people said.”

After CoStar announced at a recent earnings call they had raised $750M for future acquistions Rob and I on our Industry Relations podcast tried to guess what they would scoop up. I thought we had a pretty good guess with Matterport. Matterport had recently bought VHT Studios. So we thought it would give them some killer IP and a network of photographers. Turns out Zillow took the bait and purchased VRX, and CoStar had bigger fish in mind. Although $3 billion isn’t that much money for CoStar, remember they bid $7 billion for CoreLogic.

Brings up a few questions. Will NAR approve? Or do they even have the say? If NAR was cool with handing the reins to Rupert Murdoch, then Andy Florance seems like a Boy Scout.

What about Homes.com? I’ve been wondering when the new website would be launched, and they recently had a big round of layofffs. Maybe Andy realized that it would take a hell of lot more money to get Homes.com (a distant #3) to compete with Zillow than it would take #2, realtor.com. And the whole “your listing, your lead” actually might play better under the realtor.com umbrella.

Your move Nestfully.

Realtor.com offers iBuying marketplace

Realtor.com® Now Gives You Options to Sell Your Home, Your Way

“Realtor.com® is the only national home search site to compare different selling options and enable consumers to determine the right fit with just a few clicks. Users simply provide basic information about their home and Seller’s Marketplace will present them with available options in their area. Homeowners will see side-by-side estimates for sale price, timeline and more with no upfront cost or commitment.”

Well, they certainly took their time but I think realtor.com implementation of side by side comparisons is a good one for consumers. Reminds me of the first implementation of Zillow’s “Instant Offers” before they took everything in-house.

This also represents a big shift from what I’ve seen/heard from larger iBuyers. Typically they have not wanted to participate in side by side comparisons. Companies that have offered services of aggregating iBuyer offers have been met with cease and desist letters. But with the current economic environment, things are changing quickly.

The other angle to this is what can be perceived as a “partnership” between realtor.com and Opendoor against Zillow.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend”

Does realtor.com have their heads in the sand?

Everyone’s rushing to be an iBuyer — except for Realtor.com

“Industry observers said the fact that Zillow views iBuying as a do-or-die phenomenon makes Realtor’s indifference that much harder to understand.
“How do you have a situation where it’s an existential threat to one portal, but the other is twiddling their thumbs at the back of the classroom?” asked Mike DelPrete, a scholar in residence on real-estate technology at the University of Colorado who studies iBuyers. “I don’t think [Realtor] needs to be buying and selling houses directly,” he added. “That’s not what this is about, and that’s probably a bad idea for them.”

I’ve been curious about this for a long time. I still surprised how many people still don’t understand the value proposition that iBuyers give consumers. The narrative on Wall Street still seems to be centered around iBuying as “flipping” houses. ????‍♂️

John Mosey recognized for work at BPP

St. Paul real estate veteran plays key role in development of Homesnap

The site is the real estate industry’s answer to the countless third-party property listing sites that have become influential in the sale of homes. Years in the making, a key player in its inception and launch is St. Paul-based John Mosey, longtime president of Twin Cities-based Northstar MLS.

“There was this grand notion that the industry could tap its resources to go head to head with the Zillows, Trulias and Realtor.coms of our world,” Mosey said.”

Zillow Group couldn’t have asked for a better picture of John for their dartboard. Of course he’s a much smaller target now. ????

Photo credit [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

Sponsored By Paragon Connect