Real estate's arc heading into 2016

Working on a project recently, I wanted to dive into real estate's current, get a sophisticated, nuanced, insightful 12-month picture of where it is, where it's been and where it may be headed. 

I turned to 1000watt principal Brian Boero's semi-weekly "Friday Flash" blog posts. Well written, insightful and uncannily prescient, I found them useful. Think you might agree, so here are links to all of Brian's posts from 2015 with some snippets that jumped out at me. 

(Brian okayed this post. 1000watt is not a client and I do not work with the firm).

Sweet Dreams (12.4.2015)

Redfin launched a really nice AVM product this week. They claim it’s more accurate than the Zestimate. I have no way to know if that’s true and don’t think it’s all that important anyway.

Jeez Louise (11.20.2015)

Our client Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, the nation’s fourth-largest brokerage, has launched a new website that reflects its bold, big thinking, brand-forward mojo.

There are many things I like about the site, but I am especially excited by a new seller-focused feature because, if you’ve been reading us lately, you know we’re big on seller leads, messaging and tools.

...

Big picture: Venture-backed companies like Redfin, Surefield and Compass build great technology, but it is unclear whether they can become great real estate companies. Perhaps they, like ZipRealty, will end up being digested by the “traditional” industry they originally positioned against.

Getting the message (11.13.2015)

There’s a lot of opportunity for whoever makes agent-to-agent communication and connection as simple as it should be. Dotloop’s mobile app has chat, but it’s tied to loops. I’m thinking of a simpler, more open platform on which any agent could message any other agent quickly. Where an agent could create groups of agents and every agent’s information is baked into the app, available to user #1 on day #1.

Power shift (10.30.15)

I have a lot of respect for Glenn and company. I am feeling like Redfin is on the edge of something right now, though. It’s either going to tip into the mainstream soon… or not.

Lovers and haters (10.16.2015)

Mark my words: most productive agents will be running their businesses from their mobiles very soon. Whoever can help them do that wins big. Zillow’s in the game, but there are lots of ways to do this. What’s your play?

A door opens (10.9.15)

The culture at Howard Hanna is something to behold. The agents love their company. They sell real estate to the Big Middle of America inside the coasts and outside the celebrity Realtor/tech-obsessed bubble in which a lot of us (including me) spend so much time. I’m flying home reminded of what I already know, but sometimes forget: culture and leadership rule.

Heaven can't wait (9.18.15)

Compass is building the “Smart Brokerage” I’ve envisioned here before – a real estate company that leverages data to know everything about their buyers, their sellers, their market and, most importantly, their agents.

Bloat, emissions and darkness (9.4.15)

I guess if there’s a takeaway here, it is that the vision Market Leader pitched over the last few years – about one MS Office-like software suite to rule real estate – hasn’t panned out. We’re in a fast, light, roll-your-own software world these days, a place where I can hook my Dropbox into my Slack and ditch email so I can run my business from my phone. Small is beautiful, open is awesome, and mobile is the mantra. Keep that in mind next time you go shopping for real estate software.

The broken down lead machine (8.14.15) 

To my second point – that relying on online listings display to drive online lead-gen has been counterproductive across the board – I put forth the following observations:

First of all, it doesn’t work very well. After 20 years of online listings, not more than 10% (at the high end) of buyer clients begin as an “online lead”. The NAR stats are pretty clear on this.

Better digital seller farming. Better post-close/loyalty marketing. Marketing driven by content that’s hard to produce and allows sharp agents and brands to rise to the top.

Inman Eve (7.31.15))

Brokers shopping for software enter upon a sad flea market of options. There are some gems, but the merch is mostly crap. Some newer entrants are raising the bar, like BoomTown and Boston Logic, and both LoneWolf and Real Estate Digital, more established players, have new financial backing. But who else is going to bring the innovation to Brokerland? I hope to see something new next week.

Living with contradiction (7.17.15)

Most brokers are balking, which seems to be what Zillow wants. Selling enhanced listing packages to brokers is so 2009.

At the same time, more and more brokers are setting up direct feeds to Zillow. And I hear from some that lead quality is improving.

A quick take on Zillow/dotloop (7.23.15)

There will be brokers livid that Z acquired a company used by several hundred thousand agents – their agents – to do transactions. I view most industry conflicts these days as battles for agent affection – portals, brokers, brands and tech vendors vying to have agents play in their sandbox. dotloop is now Zillow’s sandbox. There will be blood.

Friday flash on a Thursday (7.2.15)

Because, if nothing else, they are now touching millions of consumers with a message that’s aligned with the times. They offer a mobile app scores of agents from other brokerages use to track the market and collaborate with clients. They share information others won’t, make claims others can’t, and shine light on the incongruity between consumer expectations and how most of real estate still operates.

Redfin could fail as a business but still be a catalyst for change. That is a powerful fact.

Rambling along (6.5.15)

How outlandish is it to think that I could buy an apartment or home on Airbnb in the future? I don’t know for sure, obviously. But I suspect it will have something to do with collapsing what we now call search into what we might think of as serve. In other words, we won’t have to swipe and tap our way through a bunch of results. We’ll just get what we want.

Accentuate the positive (5.15.15)

Agents and brokers have a huge database of leads at their fingertips.

It’s called Facebook.

The last RPR critic (5.1.15)

RPR is going to get into the business of providing MLS “Back-end” services – the database/data management/heavy lifting sort of stuff – so that more MLSs and MLS subscribers can implement their own “front-end of choice.” I just think more rank-and-file brokers and agents need to be paying attention as this proposed shift in RPR strategy unfolds. A lot of money is at stake – money that won’t be invested in initiatives for which NAR has a demonstrated competency.

How to kill a portal (3.27.15)

You want to kill the portals? Get better at post-close marketing. If you’re good at that, you’ll stop feeding the lead machine.

MLS revisited (3.24.15)

The NAR board of directors required Realtor-affiliated MLSs to provide data to brokers for the purpose of creating AVMs. Some MLSs were strongly against this, many big brokers were for it, and most people didn’t pay attention. But the bottom line is that members can now use MLS data to their benefit in a new way – a win in my book. The NAR board of directors required Realtor-affiliated MLSs to make sold data available via an IDX feed, to permit commingling of MLS data within an IDX display, and mandated adoption of the RESO data dictionary in the not-too-remote future. The net effect of all this is to make it possible for brokers to deliver better user experiences to consumers. A clear win.

Choose your own controversy (3.13.15)

“Live chat” is making a comeback on real estate websites. A few of our clients – those that are serious about committing dollars and time to doing it right – are getting decent results.

Zillow Group (2.21.15)

You can build me a GPS-based, augmented reality, smell-o-vision-enabled lifestyle home search app powered by “big data”, but I will still put the thing down and go out and see some homes when I’m serious. And I’ll go with an agent.

Broker uprising (2.13.15)

There are around 5 million homes sold every year. There are around 1 million Realtors, about 150,000 of which are productive enough to buy software or advertising. There are about 100,000 real estate brokerages, most of which are very small shops. In other words, there’s a limited number of listings, a limited number of ads you can sell on or around them, and a limited number of people who will pay for those things. Zillow could get a billion unique visitors a month, but the facts above aren’t going to change much.

Going home (1.19.15)

My theory, as you can probably guess by now, is that I felt friendliness in Cleveland because most people – including a cabbie and an airport shoe-shiner – could afford to own homes. I believe it and you believe it: Homeownership makes lives better. Pride, comfort, community, security – all the stuff of saccharine real estate advertising – it’s all real. So I guess that’s what I can do. Work with those I know in the industry to address this. It’s become a goal of mine for 2015.

Chaos theory (1.9.15)

The dream of a “neutral” clearinghouse for listings pretty much died this week, and herein lies the real uncertainty. Forget about Zillow and Trulia. Forget about Realtor.com. What we have here now, folks, is a vacuum – a real estate black hole of inscrutable magnitude.

Down on the farm (12.12.14)

No, not because you can now search posts more easily, but because of the brilliant, tentacular world of identity and advertising the company is creating. Dig deep and study up. This is our future. Video is cool. Photos are easy. But maps as content is a sleeper.